Three and out: Murray the favorite in Dallas

Murray to see featured role in 2012?: One of the best waiver wire pickups of the 2011 fantasy season was DeMarco Murray, who replaced an injured Felix Jones and thrived as the top backfield option in Dallas. During a six-week stretch, he scored double-digit fantasy points five times, including 18-plus points three times. His impressive rookie performances led Rob Phillips of the Cowboys official website to suggest that Murray will enter next season atop the team’s depth chart. That’s not a surprise, but the question in fantasy land centers on whether he can handle a full workload and if he’s worth a first-round pick in drafts. I’d say no on both accounts. While Murray will see more carries, I don’t see the Cowboys going away from Jones completely. He played well when healthy last season, and will serve as a compliment to his younger teammate. I do think Murray could have second- or third-round value depending on his recovery from a broken ankle, but he’s one of several runners who will come with some risk in 2012.

Tebow played hurt against Patriots: According to a report, Tim Tebow suffered torn cartilage along his rib and bruised a lung while suffering fluid buildup in his pleural cavity during last weekend’s loss in New England. That’s notable from a fantasy perspective, because Tebow’s style of play makes him more vulnerable to injuries and could hurt his stock in 2012 drafts. Broncos VP of Football Operations John Elway has already stated that Tebow has earned the right to open training camp as the team’s No. 1 quarterback, and I’m not jumping off the bandwagon in my promotion of the Florida product as a starting fantasy signal-caller. But there are at least eight to 10 better options at his position at this point in time. Right now, I see Tebow as being worth a middle-round selection in the majority of standard formats.

Steelers need to limit sacks in ’12: No one will argue that Ben Roethlisberger had a down year from a fantasy perspective in 2011, but at least part of his decreased numbers could be blamed on playing behind a porous offensive line. Steelers president Art Rooney II told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that while he feels like the team has “the people in the building that can do the job (protect Roethlisberger),” he also said “the draft is always something that we look at as an opportunity to get better.” In my recent mock draft, I have the Steelers taking Georgia OT Cordy Glenn with their first-round selection. Improving that line will go a long way to making Roethlisberger a potential value pick in 2012 fantasy football drafts.

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