Fantasy football draft season is in full force. Team owners are putting in a ton of time researching to find that one player who will be a steal during the latter parts of the draft. Latavius Murray is one of those players. Murray has been a solid back his entire career, both as a starter and in a limited role. He now comes into a New Orleans Saints team that will give him a well-defined role that ensures consistent fantasy production all season.
Latavius Murray is a Steal at His ADP in Fantasy Football
Has Shown He Can Play, Even in Limited Role
Murray started his career with the Oakland Raiders and was even a 1,000-yard rusher back in 2015. He is a bigger back with an upright running style, but also quicker than he looks. Though he isn’t always utilized as a pass-catcher, he can also do so.
Murray signed with the Minnesota Vikings for the 2017 season and played a relatively fluid role with the team during his two-year stay. He was eased into the rotation behind rookie Dalvin Cook the first four weeks as he recovered from off-season surgery.
However, he was thrust into the starting role after Cook suffered an injury of his own in Week Four. Murray performed admirably rushing for over 800 yards and eight touchdowns from then on out.
However, Murray took more of a backseat role for most of 2018, only starting in six games during another injury-riddled year for Cook. He still managed to pile up 578 yards and six touchdowns leading to a less-than-spectacular RB32 finish in standard leagues.
However, he should see a much bigger role with his new team, the New Orleans Saints.
The Saints Have a Defined Role for Him
Murray left the Vikings behind as he wanted to go to a team where he could compete to start. That didn’t necessarily happen. Instead, Murray ended up coming to the Saints to pick up the role left by Mark Ingram last season. This gives him a chance to be a consistent contributor and get enough touches to warrant fantasy consideration at the FLEX spot.
Ingram finished last year as the RB28 in standard leagues, four spots ahead of Murray. At first glance, this seems insignificant. But, consider the fact that Ingram was also suspended the first four games of the year. Then add the fact that Ingram also played every game with the dynamic Alvin Kamara in front of him, and not a broken-down Cook.
In fact, Ingram only had one game that he appeared in last season where he had less than 10 touches. He also only had two games with less than 42 total yards. While it is tough to say that Murray will be as involved, or productive as Ingram was, he will have every opportunity to do so.
It is never a great idea to look too much into the preseason, but it is also difficult to ignore how involved Murray was in his first game as a Saint. His three carries for 14 yards are nothing spectacular, but his three receptions for 22 yards are promising. It is likely that Sean Payton and the Saints coaching staff are giving Murray a chance to prove that he can be trusted as a versatile weapon in this potent Saints offense.
Outlook and Comparisons
At his ADP, he is well worth the risk. Currently rated as the RB41, Murray is basically the last running back even worth drafting. But he has a chance to shatter that ADP. It is tough to imagine him doing any worse than he did last year, which would still put him at a higher finish than his current ranking.
Looking at backs being drafted similarly, there are mostly has-beens or never-weres. LeSean McCoy and Peyton Barber are rated right ahead of Murray. While McCoy was once a top back in the league, his age and mileage looked to finally catch up with him. He is getting by on name value alone and offers little upside.
Barber had his chance to prove himself last season, and thoroughly underwhelmed. Despite starting every game and having the backfield all to himself, he turned out an RB26 finish. With Ronald Jones, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers second round-pick a year ago coming into his second season, it is likely that the team moves away from Barber completely.
Right behind Murray in the rankings is Jordan Howard. Howard has potential to lock down the starting job but finds himself on the Philadelphia Eagles this year in a backfield that has been a timeshare the past few years and also involves promising rookie Miles Sanders. Latavius Murray is the only one here who will have a clear role and a solid floor.