The famous Eagles’ (rock band not football team) hit “New Kid in Town” begins with “There’s talk on the street; it sounds so familiar. Great expectations; everybody’s watching you …” These lyrics can also be applied to several veteran running backs who are now the new kid in town on their teams. DeMarco Murray, Frank Gore, LeSean McCoy and Darren McFadden will be sporting different jerseys this season as they begin new chapters in their career. Let’s take a look at each back’s new situation to decide whom to target, as well who we should hide from!
DeMarco Murray led the NFL in rushing in 2014 with 1,845 yards and it wasn’t very close. Despite eclipsing career highs in nearly every offensive category, Murray decided to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles for 2015. In 2014, Murray defined the term “workhorse” as he averaged more than 24 carries and three receptions per game. Eagles coach Chip Kelly’s offense will be faster-paced and more of a committee system. With Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews also competing for touches, expect Murray’s workload to be around 15-20 carries per game. Murray should be a prolific force in Kelly’s offense especially with the strength of their offensive line, and should be drafted in the first round.
Murray filled Philadelphia’s running back vacancy, which opened when LeSean McCoy was traded to the Buffalo Bills. In addition to McCoy, Buffalo has welcomed its new head coach, Rex Ryan, and starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor. McCoy struggled early last season, but had a significant rebound in the second half of the season as Philadelphia’s line improved. But, if McCoy continues to struggle at the goal line like he did last season in Philadelphia, he could lose goal line touches to Karlos Williams or Anthony Dixon. Keep an eye on McCoy’s hamstring injury to confirm whether he’ll be healthy for the season opener. Although McCoy has fallen out of the very top of the rankings, he should still be drafted no later than the second round.
Frank Gore will be entering his 11th season, but will be sporting the “blue and white” instead of the “red and gold.” He is now the starting running back for the Indianapolis Colts’ well-oiled offensive machine. Despite quarterbacks Andrew Luck, and previously Peyton Manning, leading this offensive force, no Colts’ running back has rushed for 1,000 yards since Joseph Addai in 2007. Although, Gore will likely see a gradual decline in his performance at age 32, he has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in nine of his last 10 seasons and can potentially break this disheartening trend.
Expect a similar season from Indianapolis’ new back with a higher ceiling for touchdowns. Target Gore in the third round, but don’t be afraid to snag him earlier in the late second round.
Although it appears Joseph Randle is the likely Dallas Cowboys’ starting running back replacing DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden will receive a portion of the workload. McFadden has only surpassed 1,000 rushing yards once in his career, which was five seasons ago in 2010. The “knock” against McFadden was durability as he succumbed to injury early in his career.
However, he played all 16 games last year and only earned 534 rushing yards with just over 3.0 yards per carry. With that being said, McFadden was running behind a weak Oakland Raiders offense for his entire career with coach and quarterback instability. Although he may not be the feature back for Dallas, he will be a major ingredient in a high-octane offense with more potential scoring opportunities. With Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar in the mix with limited résumés, McFadden is a sleeper for 2015.
With Week 1 approaching, happy drafting!