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Running Backs: NFC East

1 Star – Look Elsewhere
2 Star – Handcuff/Desperation pick
3 Star – A Serviceable Starter
4 Star – Solid Starter you can count on every week
5 Star – Studs, should be in the Top 10 at the end of the year

Dallas – DeMarco Murray/Joseph Randle/Phillip Tanner/Lance Dunbar

Everything out of the Cowboys camp regarding Murray has been all positive, including Murray stating every game this season. What’s important is that his hamstring is at full strength. I’m hoping in my leagues more people are scared to draft him early because of his injury history. Murray is a beast, though, and completely changes the Cowboys offense when he is on the field. He’s a surprisingly quick and vicious runner, although one of the problems I have going forward with him is the overall team inconsistency. It’s hard to tell when they will show up each week. Murray is worth a risk as a late second-to-third-round pick in drafts and should have a good season ahead of him.

My second (although biggest) cause for concern is that Murray has missed nine games in his two NFL seasons, making rookie Joseph Randle a viable handcuff this year. If Murray stays healthy he should find himself within the top 15 running backs this year. The backfield is rounded out with Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar, who should not be considered at all unless you are staring at an empty slot in your lineup because of bye weeks and injuries.

Murray –
3.50 Stars; Randle –
2 Stars; Tanner –
1 Star; Dunbar –
1 Star

New York Giants – David Wilson/Andre Brown

The departure of Ahmad Bradshaw has left a nice void in the Giants backfield with one of the above two guys more than welcoming the opportunity to fill it. There are a few whispers out there saying that Andre Brown will be the starter this year but I will have to disagree with them. David Wilson will come into the season as the starter and it will be his job to lose. Wilson is definitely the more explosive player; this kid has the drive and the talent to be one of the greats (he said so himself!). He’s been working this offseason on his ball handling and pass blocking skills and it looks like he has improved in both areas considerably. That’s not to say Brown will not be worth anything this year as he figures to be the team’s goal line back.

Throughout the season I’ll wager the breakdown of carries going 70-30, with the lion’s share going to David Wilson. At this point I’d consider drafting Wilson very early, and if the opportunity arises for you, be sure not to pass it up!

Wilson –
4.25 Stars; Brown –
2.5 Stars

Philadelphia – LeSean McCoy/Bryce Brown

Let’s jump back two years ago to 2011, when LeSean McCoy gave fantasy owners 20 combined touchdowns and 1,309 rushing yards. Zip forward to September, 2012, and we find McCoy being considered a top-3 pick in fantasy drafts. However, his 2012 season was much different than his 2011 as he only managed 840 rushing yards and six combined touchdowns. Of course, being injured and missing games did not help his cause either. Going into 2013 his expectations of greatness should be more level-headed. While I still consider McCoy a top-tiered back and would expect him to land within the top 15 fantasy scorers this year, it is best to realize that the odds of him scoring another 20 touchdowns are slim-to-none. 

A more reasonable expectation is around eight or nine and a lot of his success will depend on the Chip Kelly spread offensive scheme. McCoy excels when he gets the ball in space which is what the offense should be able to do. The question you should be asking is which quarterback are we trusting to get him the ball? And and in the scheme of things, make defenses pay slightly less attention to him. McCoy is definitely a stud, just don’t expect another 20 scores.

Bryce Brown broke onto the scene in a big way putting up
huge back-to-back games in McCoy’s absence. In those two games he racked up 43 carries, 347 yards, four touchdowns (and three fumbles) then was tamed by Tampa Bay and Cincinnati in the next two games (28 carries, 40 yards). While Brown did show signs of being a highly capable feature back, there is no question McCoy is the lead back in this offense. The good thing for Eagles’ fans is they have another running back waiting in the wings. Fantasy owners: just take him as a handcuff.

McCoy –
5 Stars; Brown –
2 Stars

Alfred Morris/Roy Helu/Evan Royster

Whoever picked up Morris in your league last year was paid for their guesswork with extreme dividends. Not only was Morris the Redskins’ sixth-round pick, he was a running back for a Mike Shanahan coached team. Anyone who knows anything about Shanahan knows he’s notorious for failing to pick a feature back for the duration of an entire season. But Morris started in Week 1 and continued to do so until the very end.

Showing his durability and talent in the process, he posted big numbers to the tune of 335 carries, 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns. My only knock on Morris’ game is that he only caught 11 balls out of the backfield. but if that’s the worst thing I have to say about him then that’s really not bad at all, is it? Morris appears to be the real deal – not only does he have the right skills, size and speed, he’s got a good head on his shoulders and he’s a very hard worker. I would anticipate Morris getting the same amount of carries again this year, though I would say the level of his success may depend on the return of Robert Griffin III. The backfield doesn’t appear to have any stiff competition for him either and the player who backs him up is anybody’s guess right now. Neither Helu nor Royster have shown that they are the clear backup to Morris.

Morris –
4 Stars; Helu –
1 Star; Royster –
1 Star

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