With Latavius Murray missing games with an ankle injury, Devonta Freeman has taken on the Ravens’ lead-back role while Le’Veon Bell fills in the gaps. With Murray questionable for Week 10, what is the 31-year-old’s short-term and long-term fantasy football outlook?
Update 11/11/2021: Running back Latavius Murray is officially inactive for the Baltimore Ravens tonight in their matchup against the Miami Dolphins. This makes things significantly more interesting for Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell.
Latavius Murray’s fantasy production
A month ago, heading into a Monday Night Football game against the Colts, I wrote a piece for Pro Football Network warning fantasy managers to sell high on Murray before it was too late. At that time, he was an RB4. Nothing wrong with that, right?
Except he was the only top-75 RB not only without a reception but also without a target. Furthermore, he was averaging a mere 3.4 yards per carry.
This was not the Murray of years past. He was no longer a reliable starter or even a reliable backup. He was a TD-dependent dart throw facing competition from two other largely TD-dependent dart throws: Freeman and Bell.
With all three on the field, each player’s upside would be severely capped. Yes, a touchdown would change any of their fortunes. But if you’re streaming an RB in your flex spot, you’re hoping for an 8-point floor, and that’s not something Murray can offer at this stage of his career.
Can Murray be trusted when he returns from injury?
An ankle injury sidelined Murray in Week 7 and then again in Week 9 after the team’s bye. The timing couldn’t have been worse.
In his absence, Freeman took over the 1A backfield role and has looked better. During these two games, Freeman has racked up 93 yards on 17 carries (5.5 ypc) while collecting 29 receiving yards on 5 catches. He’s also scored twice.
Is Freeman now the lead back?
The 29-year-old Freeman is a more versatile running back with a higher upside than Murray. He would need to stumble or get hurt for Murray to get a shot at reclaiming even an 8-plus-touch role, particularly with Le’Veon Bell (11-48-1 rushing line in Week 9) picking up steam after a sluggish reacclimation to the NFL.
So, if you’ve been stashing Murray in an injured reserve slot — or worse, on your active roster — it’s time to rethink your life choices. This is not a knock on Murray. It’s the reality of being the third-best or fourth-best RB on a team whose best rusher is their starting quarterback. Murray’s injury could keep him out for Week 10. Regardless, he should be dropped for a higher-upside RB handcuff in the hope you get a smash performer for the fantasy playoffs.