Over the past decade, the NFL has continued to gradually implement rules geared towards turning the league into a high scoring passing league. You can no longer breathe on a quarterback or receiver without being flagged. However, despite the ridiculous direction the game has taken, it’s still the lost art of running the football that puts good passing teams over the top. The only 2 teams in the league averaging over 150 rushing yards per game are the 6-3 Seattle Seahawks and the 7-3 Dallas Cowboys. It’s safe to say that if you look at the top of any fantasy league’s standings, you’ll also find in nearly every case, the leaders are getting great production from their RB slots. This is one of the primary reasons why the crystal ball in these fantasy based C4C articles has focused on finding sleeper running backs. If you find yourself a productive RB for free off the waiver wire, there’s a good chance you’ll be making a run at the title. If you were paying attention a few weeks ago, you would’ve gone out and grabbed Charlie Sims. I touched on how he was still a few weeks away from significant production, but those of you who took the leap will start seeing the move pay dividends this weekend.
You may be asking yourself, if we’re focusing on the lost art of running the football, why the hell am I featuring the Raiders? They’re currently averaging a ridulously terrible 62.1 yards per game on the ground, which is the worst since 1946 when the Lions could only manage 42.5 yards per game. That’s the exact reason I’m focusing on the Raiders, actually. Evidently they weren’t paying attention to any Jags games last year, because this past off-season they signed a washed up Maurice Jones-Drew in hopes that he could resurrect their running game. The result? 2.2 yards per carry. He was so bad they turned their attention back to Darren McFadden. Run DMC’s results? 41 yards per game and 3.5 yards per carry. Clearly, neither back has anything left in the tank. At 0-8, it’s a safe crystal ball bet to assume they have nothing to lose by finally giving Latavius Murray a crack at showing what he can do as a feature back. Murray is a chiseled physical specimen at 6’3 228 pounds, and he has the ability to pick up yardage even without the offensive line providing gaping holes. He also runs a 4.3 forty, so he’s not lacking in explosiveness either. Pro scouts have been dubbing him the most electric athlete on the Raiders ever since preseason last year, so it’s a mystery why the run-starved Raiders haven’t given him a shot yet. If you’ve been following along, you may have noticed that these crystal ball running back selections have all been super-sleepers, which is a direct result of being in very deep leagues… but a guy like Murray surfacing as a productive feature back this late in the season can help managers in even the shallowest of leagues. The Raiders have given no indication that they’re ready to turn over the reigns to him, so he’d be a true crystal ball selection, but all signs point to them coming to their senses over the next couple weeks to see what they have in him.
Murray was superb in his senior season at Central Florida in 2012, racking up 19 combined touchdowns in only 11 games. He averaged 5.6 yards a carry with 15 rushing touchdowns, and added 4 more in the air on 27 receptions. What’s even more telling is that he only ran the ball 198 times in his senior season, and just 453 times over his college career, so at 24 years old he has something going for him that neither Jones-Drew or McFadden have… fresh legs. In fact, if there were an opposite of MJD or DMC’s beaten up bodies and washed up legs, it would be Murray. Now is the time to pick him up if you’re hoping to beat the inevitable rush that will be flocking to him once the Raiders announce that they’re removing their heads from their asses and giving him a crack at the starting job.