“Stromme the Way” It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Running Backs Changing Teams and Their Fantasy Relevance pt.2
In this week’s episode, “the gang” breaks down the Eagles’ running back situation. More specifically, the additions of DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. It’s Bird law of a different variety.
And by “the gang”, I don’t mean Frank, Mac, Dennis, Charlie and Sweet Dee. I mean… Well me. It’s just me. Sorry if you were expecting anyone else.
Anyways, over the crazy whirlwind that was this past NFL offseason, we saw the Eagles move out LeSean McCoy, almost bring in Frank Gore, and eventually acquire both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. All in all, the Eagles made out like gangbusters! Not only does Chip Kelly get that one cut, zone runner that he needed to fill the void left by Shady McCoy, he gets two. Another back he can use to spell Murray and use him in the backfield with Murray, a dual-threat.
But, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Let’s really dive into the newest attraction in Philadelphia.
DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles
If you’re of the belief that Murray was the product of an “offensive line for the ages”, you’re sadly mistaken.
Murray has been a talented back ever since he broke into the league in 2011. Whether it was injuries or just a lack of opportunity, Murray had never had a real chance to show the football world his RB1 potential, until 2014.
In my opinion, Murray was the Cowboys’ MVP last season. He was that back that gave balance to a team that
would perennially attempt to throw the ball a gazillion times a game. Finally, Jason Garrett and his staff smartened up a tad and actually committed to the ground game enough to curb the pass attempts, and subsequent “Romo-esque” interceptions, that came with an aggressive aerial attack.
But no, they decided that Dez Bryant was more important to their success, and thought, maybe, Joesph “Sticky Fingers McGee” Randle, Lance Dunbar, and Darren McFadden could get the job done behind an offensive line that’s supposedly the greatest thing the game of football has seen since the forward pass.
Here’s how the Dallas O-Line stacked-up versus the G-Men against opposing front-sevens in 2014:
Sack Yards Allowed:
Tackles For Loss Allowed:
QB Hits Allowed:
Run Win-Probability Added:
See a pattern? Just because a team spends first-round picks on the offensive line and decides to run the ball a little more, doesn’t mean that they are the best. DeMarco put that line on the map with his ability, and he will do the same for a line in Philly that has a lot of talent as well.
Not only does Murray go to a system where he can thrive, he will see his snaps occur at a much faster pace in Kelly’s high-tempo offense.
I guarantee that if DeMarco Murray had stayed in Dallas, he would be in the discussion as to which running back goes first overall in fantasy drafts. Alas, this is not the case because to some, he’s “a product of a great offensive line”. He is currently going as a late first, early second round pick. I would be more than happy to snag him at that position.
Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia Eagles
Now, I’m sure that if Mathews went to a team where he was “the guy”, we wouldn’t be talking about Mathews in the same light that he is in now. But, we are. And, that’s because Ryan Mathews is clearly entrenched behind
DeMarco Murray on that Eagles depth chart.
But, that’s okay. Here’s a few reasons why Mathews, even as a second-fiddle, will have fantasy relevance in 2014:
-Chip Kelly likes to mix-and-match his backs. There will be quite a few plays were both him and Murray will be on the field at the same time. Mathews won’t necessarily rot on the bench.
-Due to the sheer volume of plays in an up-tempo Chip Kelly offense, DeMarco Murray can get 20 carries with room for Mathews to get 10-12.
-Mathews fits the zone-blocking scheme as a one-cut runner just as well as Murray. If Murray goes down, Mathews automatically sky rockets up those running back rankings.
Essentially, Mathews is a Murray handcuff that has a flex-type floor, even with Murray in the lineup. Don’t let that depth chart fool you, there’s value here.
C.J. Spiller, New Orleans Saints
Now, I will quit bashing the Cowboys’ O-Line long enough to discuss what an awesome value C.J. Spiller will be in New Orleans.
Recently, Ron McCleese and myself debated on Major League Fantasy Football Weekly about who would be a better value: C.J. Spiller or Shane Vereen. I backed Vereen for reasons that I stated in last week’s article, but I do think that Spiller has found an ideal landing spot in New Orleans.
Spiller now assumes that pass-catching running back role that was previously assumed by the likes of Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles, both of which had excellent fantasy value in the bayou. Anybody who has played fantasy football before knows that Sean Payton, Drew Bree, and company love to throw to running backs. In fact, the Saints led the league in targets directed at running backs with 166 in 2014.
Spiller has that home run speed that can turn a 3-yard check-down into a 75-yard touchdown pass, he’s that fast. No, he won’t be the running back you see in traditional run-formations, that’s what the Saints paid Mark Ingram for, but Spiller will be the guy to participate the most during passing downs.
In today’s NFL, the days of the three-down bellcow back are fleeting. Grabbing running backs that can help in the passing game are paramount when it comes to filling that RB2/flex position in your lineup. Spiller is a prime example of that new-world back.
Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys
Don’t let my previous roast session of the Dallas offensive line fool you, they aren’t a bad line. I just don’t think they are as great as the rest of the football world makes them out to be. I’d love for a back like Darren McFadden to shut me up, but I wouldn’t wager on it.
McFadden has perpetually broken the hearts of fantasy owners ever since he was drafted in 2008. Whether it was his inability to stay healthy or the fact that he played on some terrible Oakland squads, he just has not lived up to the deafening hype he had surrounding him coming out of Arkansas.
According to the Dallas Morning News, it’s Joseph Randle, not McFadden, that’s getting the majority of first-team reps at OTAs. You never know what will happen come the start of training camp, but all signs point to the number one running back position being Randle’s to lose.
But, let’s just say that Randle wasn’t there and this job was Run DMC’s to lose. Would he come close to filling the void that DeMarco left?
Probably not. He has averaged 3.3 YDS/Carry in Oakland since 2012. Mind you, he didn’t have a great supporting cast around him, but 3.3 YDS/Carry are Trent Richardson-like numbers.
I guess McFadden might be worth a flyer. But, I’m going to pass and let someone else reach for him. I just don’t see the value in drafting him as anything more than a flyer.
Well, that does it for this week’s installment of “Stromme the Way”. Due to the 4th of July weekend, I will not be posting an article next weekend. However, next time you see me, we will be discussing my running back rankings, which can only mean one thing…real, live NFL football is fast approaching!
In the mean time, take it easy! Whether you’re celebrating the 4th of July or Canada Day on July 1, always be sure to do the following:
NEVER drink and drive!
Light fireworks responsibly, always AWAY from your body (or anyone else’s).
Be sure to extinguish the grill.
Tell epic stories around the fire.
Keep the beverages cold.
Don’t burn the burgers.
And, keep the good times rolling!
(Click the BLUE link to listen to the show)
Major League Fantasy Sports Show: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday June 28th from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. Call in to ask questions at 646-915-8596. This week’s topics will be the A.L. Central, N.L. West, and everything fantasy related within.
Our guests this week include Kyle Amore, Lou Landers, and Hernan Batista. Kyle is a writer with MLFS in which he focuses on the N.L. East, N.L. Central, and the MLB Draft. Catch his articles every Tuesday morning. Lou Landers is the host of Major League Fantasy Football Weekly which is our live YouTube show which runs every Saturday from 2-3:30pm EST. Hernan Batista is an excellent owner in (Team name “Powerslave) MLFB2, and a long time veteran of fantasy baseball. Come join us for a lively debate.
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Major League Fantasy Football Weekly Show: Join Lou Landers and Ron McCleese on Saturday June 27th from 2-3:30pm EST for this week’s episode Major League Fantasy Football Weekly. We will be discussing key free agents/traded players that will have a profound impact in the 2015 fantasy football season.
You can watch live and ask questions to the group, or you can watch afterward on our YouTube channel at your leisure.
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