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Fantasy Football - Camp Battles 2015

Camp Battles - Dallas - Joseph Randle vs Darren McFadden

Who will take the place of NFL rushing champ DeMarco Murray?

By Mike Beacom
Joseph RandleDarren McFadden

For much of last season there was a glimmer of hope DeMarco Murray might break Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record. Murray was lighting up defenses, running through enormous holes. He finished short of the mark – 1,845 yards – but well ahead of every other back in the NFL. He was a fantasy stud in every sense of the term.

This offseason the Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant, essentially letting Murray free to leave for Philadelphia. Dallas knew the more important ingredient to their rushing success was still intact – an offensive line that boasted three Pro Bowl players and good depth. And the team added perhaps the 2015 Draft class’ best prospect, La’el Collins, in May. But surprisingly, they did not do much to replace Murray. Everyone expected Adrian Peterson but it never materialized. Instead, Dallas settled for Oakland disappointment Darren McFadden and skipped the position in the draft.

That leaves McFadden and Joseph Randle to battle for top duties. The winner of the starting job has much to gain.

Why Randle is your best bet: The 2013 fifth round pick averaged 6.7 yards per carry last season – two yards more than Murray. Randle had more than 50 yards rushing against both Seattle and Jacksonville, and had 69 in the season finale against Washington. He also scored touchdowns in three of the team’s final seven regular season games. He has gets to the hole quicker than Murray did and has excellent breakaway speed (three carries of 35 or more yards).

Why it’s McFadden: He’s a much safer pick than Randle. McFadden has never been able to pull it all together, but he’s also never had a supporting cast near as good as he has in Dallas. He’s a bust but at one time was viewed good enough to be a top prospect (fourth pick in the 2008 Draft) so there is hope for late-career redemption. He’s probably the best receiver on this depth chart (36 catches in 2014) and let’s not forget he hails from the same school as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (Arkansas) – that has to count for something, right?

Don’t forget about: Lance Dunbar
Murray fumbled twice last season, Randle three times (in just 51 carries!). Dunbar is the only back in this race able to hold onto the rock. He also may be a better every-down back than Randle, who has proven so far he can handle spot duty.

Who fantasy owners should pull for: Randle
McFadden is the known commodity. He may pull a Thomas Jones (i.e. stardom late in life) but it’s more likely McFadden at his best is an 800-yard back in this offense. Randle is a much riskier pick but with much better upside. The unknown is what is exciting – a 6.7-yard back looking to increase his carry count five-fold. If Randle hits he could be the darling of the 2015 fantasy season.

Follow Mike Beacom on Twitter @mikebeacom
By Mike Beacom