Fantasy football: Is it time to trade DeMarco Murray?

Dallas Cowboys' DeMarco Murray carries against the Seattle Seahawks in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, in Seattle. Dallas won 30-23. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) ** Usable by LA, DC, CGT and CCT Only **
Dallas Cowboys' DeMarco Murray carries against the Seattle Seahawks in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, in Seattle. Dallas won 30-23. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) ** Usable by LA, DC, CGT and CCT Only ** (Elaine Thompson, AP)

Coming off arguably the most impressive performance of his career in Seattle, it seems one of the big questions in the fantasy football community this week has been whether it's time to sell on Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray.

There is no clear-cut answer to this question.


In my five leagues, I only own Murray in one of them, and it's a dynasty/keeper league format in which he only cost me a ninth-round pick this year, and a seventh next year. If he keeps up his current pace, he's going to be the first overall pick in 2015 fantasy drafts (something I'm going to advise against right now, just because there is no way he's going to replicate this year's numbers at that cost). I'm not saying that to brag, I'm putting it out there so you know where I'm coming from an ownership standpoint. In that league, there is no way, no how I'm trading Murray because of the value he has there.

However, if I owned him in a redraft league, I wouldn't be wholeheartedly against it, depending on the current makeup of your roster, your standing in the league and what you would get in return. If you're near the top of your league, are solid across your roster and Murray is a big part of the reason for you success, you probably should ride his historic season out. If your team is floundering despite Murray's fantastic play, perhaps it's time to make a move to strengthen the rest of your roster.


While it doesn't involve Murray, I'll use another example from one of my leagues, in a similar situation the the one I've just described. I've got a team that is in last place, largely due to a lack of wide receiver depth (Calvin Johnson has been killing me), but I was strong at running back, with Arian Foster and Le'Veon Bell.

But because my current roster wasn't getting it done, I decided to swap Foster in a 2-for-1 deal that netted me Demaryius Thomas and Lamar Miller. I wasn't keen on getting rid of Foster, a bonafide RB1 this year, but the consistency I'll get at the WR position with Thomas plus the upside of Miller with Knowshon Moreno out for the rest of the year spread the wealth across two positions instead of just one.

One of the other reasons I was OK with trading Foster was because of his history as an injury prone player -- he's already missed one game this year -- and his unsustainable workload (which might contribute to a later injury), but concern over injury and workload shouldn't be a reason to actively shop a player.

Injuries can occur to anyone at anytime, as we've seen with plenty of first-round players already this year. And players who've been notoriously injury-prone can suddenly become stable a few years into their career (Remember Fragile Fred Taylor, who became injury proof in the latter stages of his career?).


And that's part of the argument to hang onto Murray. He's on a historic pace, with probably the best offensive line in the league blocking for him, and he's in a contract year, meaning he has plenty of incentive to continue performing well.

Dealing Murray would take a package of players that truly knocks my socks off -- that means an elite WR and a low-end RB1 with upside (LeSean McCoy, Eddie Lacy and Miller, are three that come to mind) or another RB1 like Forte, Charles, Bell or Lynch, plus a player at another position that will start every week in my lineup.

Otherwise, I'm going to keep riding with Murray (and making sure I handcuff him with "Sticky Fingers" Joseph Randle).

What to make of the Percy Harvin deal

Speaking of trades, in case you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard the Seahawks traded WR Percy Harvin to the New York Jets. So what does it mean from a fantasy perspective?

For Harvin, it honestly can't be much worse than it was in Seattle. He was really struggling and not fitting with their socialist offense that spread the ball around. He should contribute on special teams for the Jets immediately while taking a few weeks to get up to speed on offense. I suspect the Jets will have a few plays specifically for him added to the playbook because of his unique talents. I still wouldn't consider him much more than a WR3 or Flex option. He's boom-or-bust, and always has been.

I do think his pressence should open things up for Eric Decker, as teams have to account for another weapon opposite him. Decker, when healthy, has been pretty good this year. Perhaps someone sees this Harvin trade as less opportunities for Decker and is willing to move him for next to nothing. He's a WR3 with WR2 upside going forward, in my opinion. I'd rather have Decker than Harvin.

For Seattle, I don't think this really changes much. Like I said, the team spreads the ball around to lots of receivers, so the values for Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse probably don't change. Rookie Paul Richardson could get a little more play though. I wouldn't roster him expect in dynasty leagues, but I'd put him on my watch list.

Figuring out Saints at Lions

Before the season started, this is one of those games you probably would've circled as a fantasy bonanza. But heading into the game, the top players on each team's offense are hurt (Jimmy Graham for the Saints, Calvin Johnson for the Lions) and both Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford are underperforming at the quarterback position.

However, unless I have a great second option, like Philip Rivers, who was drafted by many as a backup, I'm rolling with both Brees and Stafford this week. I like Brees and the Saints offense to get back on track coming off of their bye, even though the Lions defense has been tough as nails on opposing quarterbacks.

WR Golden Tate has been a strong start with Johnson out and should continue to be against a struggling Saints defense. Reggie Bush is back this week, so play him if he usually would. Same for Joique Bell, who takes a little bit of a hit off his nice performance in Week 6 with Bush back.

For New Orleans, I really like RB Pierre Thomas this week. The Lions front seven has given runners fits, but they've been suscepitble to pass catchers out of the backfield. Stick with Thomas and fade the returning Mark Ingram this week (who might be a nice buy low target next week if he struggles in his first game back).

Rookie WR Brandin Cooks is also a nice play, especially in a PPR. He was the second-most targeted player by Brees behind Graham, who is likely out. Cooks might also be able to find some soft spots in the middle of the Lions D. There's some school of thought that big-bodied Marques Colston might get some of the looks Graham got up the seam, but there's no indication the Saints will use him that way.

Graham, by the way, could be a game-time decision. If he goes, start him. The Saints probably use him in redzone situations, meaning a TD isn't out of the question even if he plays less than half the snaps. The same goes for Calvin, although I think there is less a chance he plays.

Running back studs emerge from stables


I admit, I was wrong in a big way about the stables of running backs in Baltimore and Cleveland. I didn't want to deal with the headaches of trying to figure out who would get the bulk of the carries each week, but Justin Forsett and Ben Tate have made that easy for owners who stuck with them and are every week starters at this point. (I will take credit for saying if you had to own one from each, these were the guys, although i didn't expect this much production from either.)


Isaiah Crowell put up good numbers in the Browns domination of Pittsburgh, but it looks like Terrence West is back in the mix after Crowell struggled to hold onto the ball a bit. I'd temper expectations for both of them for the time being.

Rock the red

The Oakland Raiders played an inspired game last week against the San Diego Chargers under their new coach, but still fell short. It'll be interesting to see what they do this week hosting Arizona -- do they continue to play inspired, or do they just roll over like they did through the first four games of the season.

Regardless, I'm rocking my Arizona Cardinals skill position players this week. With Carson Palmer back at the helm, the redbirds looked mighty potent. Even if the Raiders are competitive, their defense is still pretty leaky. Palmer is a top 12 QB option this week. So is Andre Ellington at RB. Both Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald are viable WR2s.

Arizona's defense hasn't been as strong this year, and it certainly looks like Oakland's strength, if they have one, is going to be throwing downfield to Andre Holmes and James Jones, so I might look for another option here. Both Holmes and Jones are nice WR3s or flex players this week.

Air Jordans

Both Jordans -- Cameron and Reed -- appear healthy and locked and loaded as top 12 tight end plays this week. Cameron looked like his explosive self against the Steelers and now gets a Jaguars team that's been pretty terrible defending the tight end. Reed was the apple of Kirk Cousins' eye, drawing a team-high 11 targets last week against the Cardinals. He's a must-start again against Tennessee.

Browns out

Cleveland's defense was a must-add for a lot of folks with the Jags on the schedule. But as I mentioned last week, they are a great option the next two weeks as well with home games against the Raiders and Bucs. If you picked them up as a streaming option, hang onto them for a bit.

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