By Chris Zolli, Cowboys Correspondent, Tue, Sep 30th 11:33am EDT
DeMarco Murray, the yardage leader in the NFL in 2014 thus far, could be due for a big payday at the end of the season. (Source: Dallas Morning News
Fantasy Impact: A big fantasy season could lead to a big payday not only for Murray but for fantasy owners that have the Cowboys running back. The Cowboys have featured Murray exclusively this year as the team has moved to a more run based offense. Murray has earned the increasted workload with over 600 yards from scrimmage in the first quarter of the 2014 season. If Murray were to maintain that pace of yardage, that would place him third all time in single season yards from scrimmage. The issue with Murray for his entire career has been injuries and this is the main concern as his workload increases. This is not to say that he will fall off greatly, but between his injury riddled past and the Cowboys tougher schedule, Murray may be more of a top 5 or top 10 running back rather than the number one running back that he has been during the first quarter of the season. As compared to other top running backs, Murray's past two seasons favorably to Jamaal Charles in 2012 and 2013. They are not totally similar, as Charles derived a lot of value from receptions in 2013 and had an MVP type season in 2010 previous to his breakout, but Murray and Charles are both runners that average over 5 yards per rush and each saw a huge boost as their team focused on getting them the ball. The massive difference between Murray and Charles is workload. The Cowboys running back has averaged 27 touches a game in the first quarter of the season and Charles only averaged a bit over 20 touches per game last year and his maximum workload in a 4 game stretch was 25 touches per game from Weeks 5 to 8. As noted many times in previous articles, Murray's workload is something to look at as he is on pace for 432 touches after never having more than 270 touches in a season. A 60% increase in workload is quite extreme, but Murray's 2014 production has been historic thus far. Coming into 2014, there have only been 4 players that have had over 400 touches in a season and averaged 5.5 yards per touch and Murray would join that list with his 5.7 yard per touch average. If he is able to keep up this pace, Murray is absolutely worth a big money contract from the Cowboys.