Fantasy Football running back observations and analysis from Week 4 of the 2014 NFL season, with stops in Tennessee, Dallas, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Minnesota, and Philadelphia.
The Titans have lost three straight, and Jake Locker is injured. Although much of his playing time has come in low-leverage situations, Bishop Sankey has been the Titans’ most effective RB of late. According to the Buy Low Machine, Tennessee has one of the easiest RB schedules over the next two weeks, while their receiver matchups are just middle of the road. Hopefully, the schedule plus weak quarterback play makes this an opportunity for Sankey to capitalize. If he does, he gets Philadelphia in Week 12, just before the fantasy playoffs start, and Jacksonville in fantasy championship Week 16.
Yeah, not exactly my favorite player. But he’s appeared in all four games despite a concussion, and when DeMarco needed a break from piling up yards this week, it was Randle, not Lance Dunbar, who got the call. Dunbar gets a smattering of pass game targets, but it’s doubtful he gets much more work if Murray misses any time. If you want to play the handcuff game, Randle is probably who you want.
Speaking of Murray . . . wow. Of all the impressive stats surrounding his red-hot start to the season, this is one of my favorites.
Alfred Morris is 2nd in the NFL with 191 rushing yards on 1st down. DeMarco Murray is 1st with 418!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Via @fbgchase
— Draft Cowboys™ (@DraftCowboys) September 30, 2014
Is Murray’s pace (2,400 yards, 20 touchdowns) sustainable? I think it is, for two reasons. First, the Buy Low Machine tells us that Dallas has actually had the toughest RB schedule to date. Over the rest of the season, Dallas’ RB schedule is basically league average – or twice as easy as it’s been so far. The second reason I think Murray has a great shot at well over 2,000 yards from scrimmage: Scott Linehan. As I outlined before the season, Linehan isn’t necessarily the pass-heavy, backfield-splitting coordinator he’s made out to be. In the past he’s made heavy use of a single RB: For example, Steven Jackson. Back in 2006, Jackson put up 2,334 yards from scrimmage and 16 total TDs. I’ll just leave this here:
Similar adjusted speed, Jackson has the size and agility edge, but Murray is more explosive. Sure seems like Murray ought to be able to post an SJax-like season. Linehan has also coaxed a 1,512 scrimmage yard season from Reggie Bush (career best), a 1,647 yard season from Michael Bennett (career best), a 1,389 yard season from Moe Williams (career best), and a 1,197 yard season from Joique Bell (career best). Last season, Bush and Bell combined for over 2,800 yards from scrimmage and 15 TDs. This season, Murray is getting all the work. Ride him to to the finish line.
Is not DeMarco Murray. But he is working his way into a timeshare with Toby Gerhart. Robinson out-snapped and out-touched Gerhart in Week 4. Granted, he wasn’t that good with those touches. The point is more that Gerhart’s stock is plummeting, and the Jacksonville run game is so far something to be avoided, especially since their rest of season schedule is actually a bit tougher than their schedule to date.
I’m sorry. I had high hopes for Thomas this season. So far this is shaping up to be a call I’d like to have back. Thomas is getting roughly eight touches/game, and not doing much with them over the past three weeks. I’m not bailing yet . . . but I’m thinking about it.
What’s not to love? More rushing yards than Joique Bell, Shonn Greene, Pierre Thomas, Toby Gerhart, and Fred Jackson. The same yards/carry as Giovani Bernard, and better than Eddie Lacy. More receptions than Trent Richardson, C.J. Spiller, LeSean McCoy, and Andre Ellington. More receiving yards than Shane Vereen and Rashad Jennings. Only two RBs have more combined rushing and receiving TDs.
Is Asiata good? Does it matter? Yes, he split time with Jerick McKinnon against an awful Falcons defense. Yes, things could change. But I think you might need to just use Asiata if you have him, until the wheels come off. I don’t think you can really “sell high” on Asiata. Nobody wanted him in the first place, and we’re all still incredulous at his performances. In my own leagues, I’ve seen no movement on Asiata, since he was initially picked up. I’m using him in a couple leagues in Week 5, in a favorable matchup against Green Bay.
Is the Sproles party over? I think it’s over. He’s gotten just eight touches in the past two games. Of course, LeSean McCoy isn’t doing that well either, behind the Eagles patchwork offensive line. Not only have Sproles’ touches dropped, his efficiency has declined sharply as well in the past two weeks. Perhaps the impending return of Lane Johnson will help both of them. Until we see it though, I’m leaving Sproles on the sideline.