ESPN Dallas' Todd Archer speaks unequivocally when asked about the Cowboys' backfield for 2014.
"This will be (DeMarco) Murray's team," Archer wrote in a Wednesday chat session with fans. "He will get the bulk of the work. ... (Lance) Dunbar will get third-down tries, but Murray should see a career high in carries this year. He had 217 last year and missed a couple of games. I'd put him at 250 this year."
Archer was answering a question about whether Dunbar or the newly added Ryan Williams will be big factors in the running game this season. His short answer is apparently "no." That's nice, but two things to point out here:
Murray probably would have reached 250 carries in a couple of seasons if not for injuries. Yes, he missed two games last year. And six in the previous season, and three the season before that. At some point, like the Raiders' Darren McFadden, relying on a running back to turn in a season without any maladies becomes foolish. Perhaps we are nearing that point with Murray, and predicting he will be on the field long enough to reach 250 carries ignores who Murray really is.
Also, 250 carries is quite a high number when you mix in the fact that Scott Linehan is calling the plays in Dallas. He has said that he wants to lean on the running game, but don't expect the former Lions OC to change his stripes. He has a passionate love for throwing the ball, and I don't think Linehan will leave 250 plays aside for Murray to run even if he stays healthy. Now, maybe Murray makes up for that by catching some more passes. He caught 53 last year, and that number could rise, which would be excellent for his PPR value.
Murray has first-round fantasy talent and is in the middle of a high-powered offense. But if you spend an early pick on him, you must also be prepared for him to miss some games and be forgotten as a runner in some others.