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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fantasy football: Will Felix Jones affect DeMarco Murray's value?

The easy answer to the above question is yes.

The more thought-out, worry-free response is "not as much as you might think."

With running back Felix Jones missing the Cowboys last' four games because of a high ankle sprain, rookie DeMarco Murray has rushed for 601 yards on 75 carries, an average of 8.0 yards per attempt, and two touchdowns. Murray has a combined 10 receptions in his last two contests.

He has been among the season's most pleasant surprises -- a stud running back who was available on the waiver wire in mid-October.

This week, Jones has been limited in practice and could be back in Dallas' lineup Sunday at Washington.

The natural reaction is to worry his presence will significantly cut into Murray's role.

I wouldn't.

Murray has proven he is the featured back Jones has shown he never will be.

Jones is better suited to be a change-of-pace, every-three-series replacement.

In the two games this season in which Jones has had more than 15 carries (Sept. 11 and Oct. 2), he has a combined 31 rushes for 101 yards (3.3 yards per attempt). In his other three appearances, he has 152 yards on 31 carries (4.9).

In 2008, Jones averaged five carries in six games, and had a norm of 8.9 yards per attempt. In 2009, he averaged 8.3 carries in 14 games, and had a norm of 5.9 yards per carry.

Last season, his carries increased to 11.6 per contest, and his yards per attempt plummeted to 4.3.

Clearly, this isn't scientific data, but it seems to make sense that Jones is best used for eight to 10 carries a game.

The Cowboys have said Murray is still the top back, and there should plenty of opportunities for him to add to his ridiculous numbers.

In four of the next five weeks, Dallas faces a defense that ranks 18th or worse against the run -- Sunday at the Redskins (No. 18), Week 13 at the Cardinals (No. 21), Week 14 vs. the Giants (No. 20) and Week 15 at the Buccaneers (No. 29). The four teams have allowed a combined 41 rushing touchdowns in 36 games.

We should continue to consider Murray a top-10 running back until we're proven wrong.

(And be thankful it's Jason Garrett, not Mike Shanahan, who is in charge of running-back distribution.)

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