Who Is Cowboys’ New RB Christine Michael?

Before we begin, I want to give a note from October 13. A rumor in the Dallas Morning News says that the Dallas Cowboys are considering making Christine Michael their starter at running back. Yesterday, the Cowboys announced Matt Cassell would take over for Brandon Wheedan in their Week 6 game against the New York Giants.

Today, it appears the Cowboys are considering adding Christine Michael as the starting RB in place of Joseph Randall. Also, La’el Collins might become the starter at left guard in place of Ronald Leary. What’s important for fantasy football purposes is the news on Christine Michael. If he happens to be on the waiver wire in your local league, rush off to pick him up now. If you’re looking for a cheaper starter in Week 6, then Michael might be a consideration. Keep reading the updates.

As for the background on the Cowboys’ various running backs, read through this piece from early-September.

How the Dallas Cowboys Acquired Christine Michael 

The 24 hours or so after teams announce their 53-man rosters is a wild time in the NFL. You might think this would be a time when NFL players (and their fantasy owners) can relax, but it’s actually a time of great anxiety for those on the roster bubble.

Trades happen. Players waived by one team are signed by other franchises. Some players sneak onto Practice Squads. Others pass waivers and go on Injured Reserve. A few get pushed out by the Turk, due to some new signee they could never have forseen on the market.

The 53-cutdown is a time when smart fantasy football owners watch for late-breaking news. Those who bring a tablet computer, smartphone, or laptop to their Sunday local drafts get an advantage, because they’ll be able to draft a player late who would have been picked rounds ago–if everybody knew the news.

This is a list of such players. Hopefully, it’s in time for your draft. This is piping hot news which came over the news wire today…no earlier.

Christine Michael Traded to the Dallas Cowboys

Height: 5’10”
Weight: 220 lbs
40 Time: 4.54
Age: 24
College: Texas A&M Aggies
Drafted: 2nd Round, 62nd Pick Overall

It’s No Disgrace to Be Unable to Move Ahead of Marshawn Lynch as the Seahawks’ Runner.

Not long ago, Christine Michael was a star for Texas A&M. When he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 2013, everyone assumed he was the heir apparent to Marshawn Lynch. In the 2013 offseason practices, everyone raved about the athleticism of Christine (pronounced “Kristin”) Michael.

Then training camp started. Suddenly, Christine Michael couldn’t do anything right. He couldn’t pick up blitzes. He could catch the ball. He had nagging injuries. NFL fans know the pitfalls of being an NFL rookie runner.

Soon, he was buried on the depth chart behind Robert Turbin, a less-talented, but more reliable, backup. True believers assumed 2014 would be different. Marshawn Lynch was a little older, and he was having a contract dispute with the team. It was obvious Pete Carroll and the Seahawks front office didn’t want Lynch back in 2015. Again, Christine Michael was ready to step up…or not. Hamstring injuries destroyed any chance the ex-A&M star had of taking carries away from Lynch.

Even into the middle of the 2014 season, people assumed Marshawn Lynch was gone from the team in the offseason. The Super Bowl champs had been struggling on offense; they looked lackluster. Then a switch turn on, and the switch turned on “Beast Mode”. Lynch led another Super Bowl run, one which should have ended in a 1-yard dive for a repeat title. Despite the anticlimax, Marshawn received a contract extension in the offseason. He’s the heart of the Seahawks, and everybody recognized it. Christine Michael was as far from ever from the starting spot.

All that culminated in a trade today, which brought Christine Michael to the Dallas Cowboys. Suddenly, the 3rd-year pro has all kinds of intrigue surrounding him. The Cowboys have been trying to turn Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, and Lance Dunbar into a replacement for the departed Demarco Murray.

I wouldn’t get too ahead of myself, unless you’re in a dynasty league. No one knows where the Aggie fits. He has to learn a new offense. The three players on the roster probably have spots on the team still. Still, the clear long term talent is Christine Michael.

An Opinion on Joseph Randle

Height: 6’0″
Weight: 198 lbs
40 Time: 4.52
Age: 23
College: Oklahoma State Cowboys
Drafted: 5th Round, 151st Pick Overall

Joseph Randle vs the Seattle Seahawks

For Lack of a Better Term, Joseph Randle Is a “Piece of Work”.

Joseph Randle looked good as Demarco Murray’s backup, but he doesn’t have good judgment. Randle, a player with a $400,000+ contract, got caught shoplifting last fall. Then he was involved in a domestic abuse incident, only months after the Ray Rice scandal became TMZ front page news. He just doesn’t make good decisions.

Perhaps even worse, in the wake of his arrest for shoplifting, Joseph Randle went on the record in the media saying the Cowboys had let Dez Bryant get away with illegal and immoral acts.

I’m not sure which is more stunning about the ignorance and arrogance embedded in that statement. One, should I be most appalled that he is dumb enough to throw the star of the team under the bus, when Dez had nothing to do with what happened? Or two, should I be stunned that a backup running back who didn’t have even one skin on the wall equated himself to Dez Bryant, the star of the team?

Needless to say, Joseph Randle is wild. And he hasn’t learned his lesson yet. In the offseason, when it looked like he would be the starter, Joseph Randle said he had watched tapes of Demarco Murray’s 1,800-yard season and said Demarco “had left a lot of meat on the bone”. The sheer arrogance this guy exhibits is amazing, which would be fine…if he had ever actually done anything in the NFL.

Darren McFadden – 2015 Update

Height: 6’1″
Weight: 221 lbs
40 Time: 4.33
Age: 28
College: Arkansas Razorback
Drafted: 1st Round, 4th Pick Overall

Darren McFadden with the Oakland Raiders

Darren McFadden Would Not Be the First Player Who Prospered Once He Left the Raiders

I always knew Darren McFadden would be a Dallas Cowboys. I also knew it would happen too late. When Jerry Jones drafted Felix Jones all those years ago (Chris Johnson went 2 picks later), it was really the symbolic act of drafting Darren McFadden, who went nearly 20 picks before.

Darren McFadden is a Jerry Jones favorite, because both of them are Arkansas Razorbacks. At a time this summer, DMac looked like the best RB on the roster. But everyone knows Darren McFadden is not likely to be healthy enough and effective enough to replace Demarco Murray.

Until now, I had assumed Jerry Jones did not understand this is not the Darren McFadden he used to watch on Saturdays in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The injuries and the natural wear-and-tear have taken a toll on his speed and quickness. He can’t run a 4.33 40-time anymore, I can assure you. McFadden always ran upright, which explains his propensity to get injured a lot. Age catches up to most runners quickly. McFadden appears to be one of them.

As much as Jerry and I like DMac, I just don’t think he has it in him anymore. He’s a veteran presence with his mind on football, which might explain why he’s looked better than Joseph Randle to this point. He should still maintain a role in the offense, at least until another factor emerges.

Lance Dunbar – 3rd Down Back

Height: 5’8″
Weight: 195 lbs
40 Time: 4.47
Age: 25
College: University of North Texas Eagles
Drafted: Undrafted Free Agent (UFDA)

Lance Dunbar vs Miami Dolphins

Lance Dunbar Is Set to Be the Dallas Cowboys’ 3rd Down Running Back

The player with the least profile might be the one with the most defined role. Lance Dunbar is the shifty type of smallish running back. Untouted, he’s carved a niche for himself on the team. Dunbar reportedly is the 3rd down back on the team. Because

Since Lance Dunbar joined the team in 20102, he has shown flashes of being a productive player. He can never be an every-down NFL running back, but he’s been a nice change of pace at times. In limited action last year, he looked real nice. I can see why the team would consider him as the third down running back.

Dunbar has nagging injuries, because he’s a small man playing a big man’s game. But he appears to be the only running back on the roster right now who is assured of being on the field consistently. The starting runner is going to be Randall or McFadden or Michael, but it’s up in the air at present. Lance Dunbar is the receiving back out of the backfield. No one else has his skill set.

Keeper League Implications

I can’t say whether Christine Michael will be a factor in redraft leagues in 2015. When you get to the final one-third of your draft, he’s probably a good flier to take. You’ll likely need to be patient, because he has to get up-to-speed with the offense.

If that happens, then Christine Michael could be a keeper league or dynasty league player. I get the idea the Cowboys do not see this in multi-year dimensions: Christine Michael is meant to be a fix in 2015. Dallas has to find a way to replace Demarco Murray, and Jerry Jones might be starting to realize it’s not all about the offensive line.

Yes, the offensive line is hugely important. But great things happen in the NFL when you match superior talent at one position with superior talent at other positions. String enough of these connections together and you build a championship caliber team.

Thus, the Dallas Cowboys are trying to find a superior talent on the fly…and on the cheap. Maybe the sea parts and Christine Michael figures it all out in DFW; it would not be the first time one team’s castoff is another team’s prize. That’s how Marshawn Lynch got to Seattle in the first place; the Buffalo Bills were happy to send him along.

Despite the last three paragraphs, in many ways, this trade has a great deal more to do with long term value than immediate results. At least, it has a lot more to do with the long term from the perspective of fantasy owners. It’s possible Christine Michael puts all the pieces together and has a huge November and December. If so, then taking a late-round flier and showing a little patience might pay off. Ultimately, the Christine Michael trade means the Dallas Cowboys have little confidence in Randle, McFadden, and Dunbar. They saw a chance to upgrade and they took it.

Injury Note on October 5: With Lance Dunbar out for the season with a knee injury, the chances Christine Michael becomes a factor in the Dallas Cowboys Offense increases. I don’t know who handles the 3rd-down chores, because none of those remaining–Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, and Christine Michael–seem a natural fit.

Randle has handled the duties before, but that was behind Demarco Murray. I’m thinking he’ll stay where he’s at, for now. Darren McFadden is a better blocker and pass catcher, so he’s the likely recipient in the short term. But the herd has thinned somewhat, so this is probably a positive sign for Christine Michael believers.