Return of injured RBs making roster decisions difficult

      November 30, 2012 @ 17:05:41 PDT

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Of course, just as some of you are battling to make your league's fantasy playoffs in must-win scenarios, two big-name running backs are nearing a return.

Both DeMarco Murray (foot) and Darren McFadden (ankle) are listed as questionable and are expected to play in Week 13. However, they aren't locks by any means, and their playing time is a giant unknown if they do suit up. Why is fantasy football so cruel sometimes?

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray
A welcome sight... for some

If you own either of these two disappointing runners, the chances are that you aren't even in the position to make the playoffs. But if you are, it just makes things all that much more difficult.

What should you do???

Let's start with Murray. Despite being questionable, he seems the better bet to pencil into the active list. He's already doing interviews with NBC for the Sunday night tilt with the Iggles, and Jerry Jones is saying Murray is ready to play (for whatever that's worth).

He's clearly made strides with his health this week in practice. Remember, the Cowboys considered playing him on Thanksgiving last week, but the short week canceled those hopes. He should - should - be good to go against the Eagles.

However, it's been a while since he played; he hasn't suited up since injuring his foot in Week 6 against the Baltimore Ravens. That's a long time to sit out. Murray is one of the most dynamic threats in the 'Boys' offense, though, and Felix Jones merely kept his seat warm for six weeks.

I could see Murray getting the bulk of the work against Philly over Jones immediately, but that remains to be seen. The late Sunday start also makes this dicey, so if you have safer options for your flex position, go with them instead. If you're feeling ballsy, make sure you have another late option or a player from Monday night's game at your disposal in case Murray is inactive.

Over to DMC. Man, this guy just continues to disappoint. He never got going in 2012, struggling to adapt to Greg Knapp's zone-blocking scheme, and a high ankle sprain robbed him of the last three weeks. He only has TWO touchdowns on the year. Bah humbug, indeed.

Oakland Raiders RB Darren McFadden
Bad timing for Reece owners

If you were smart and handcuffed Marcel Reece to McFadden off the wire, you probably are cursing McFadden for making his return now, of all times, especially if you're in a high-stakes matchup this week.

Reece, much like Michael Bush did last year, has filled in respectably for DMC; In the last three weeks, he's racked up 225 yards rushing (4.7 YPC) on 47 carries. Not to mention the impact he's had in point-per-reception leagues: In the last three weeks (15 catches for 175 yards). He hasn't found paydirt in McFadden's absence, but he's been way more productive than Murray's backup in Dallas.

Reece's strong showing has earned him a role in the offense regardless of whether McFadden is active. Reece will primarily serve as the halfback against the Cleveland Browns, meaning DMC could be more involved in the short passing attack instead.

I see Reece seeing the majority of touches early in this one, but those plans could change based on what DMC does with his limited number of touches - assuming he plays - making this an extremely tough situation to bank on if you own either, or both, of them.

Oakland's contest with the Browns is a late game, too, making McFadden a very risky start. If you're compelled, or forced to do so, DMC is a flex option at best. If I own him, I'm searching for other options.

Between the two, I'd say Murray is the safer option over McFadden. Although he's had more time sitting on the sidelines, Murray has had sufficient time to get healthy and his backup hasn't staked a claim to a role upon his return.

In a perfect world, though, you're not forced to rely on either. Make the playoffs first, then consider relying on them after we have a clearer picture of how they'll be involved.

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About Keith Hernandez

Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.

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