For years, there has been a great deal of debate on which factors or combination of factors drives a successful NFL rushing attack. Primarily, is it the running back or the offensive line that really leads the charge? The Dallas Cowboys will put that question to the test this season when the team’s vaunted offensive line attempts to push a middle of the road 5th round draft pick over the 1,000-yard mark.
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones said this week that Joseph Randle will start the season as the lead running back for Dallas. This is a significant downgrade from DeMarco Murray, but for all intents and purposes, Randle is really the only option for Big D. Of course there will be Darren McFadden sightings here and there, if he can get healthy enough to hobble onto the field. But the 23-year-old Randle will lead the charge.
The fact of the matter is that any lead back in the NFL is certainly worth a pickup. Behind the Dallas offensive line, Randle should be able to surpass other middle-of-the-pack backs like Isaiah Crowell or Chris Ivory, but that still may not be enough to make him a top-25 fantasy RB.
All shoplifting jokes aside, Randle’s role is much more befitting that of a backup running back, not the lead guy. During his career, he’s never had more than 54 carries in a season. While Randle has some speed, there’s no way to know how we will hold up as an every down back.
After relying on the run so often last season, Dallas will likely be forced to throw the ball again and again in 3rd and short situations. As we said earlier, Randle is worth a pickup only if you temper your expectations. However, there could be a surprise waiting for us later in the season: Maybe it is the Offensive Line that makes the man in the NFL.