Latavius Murray and Alvin Kamara form one of the most intimidating running back tandems in the NFL. Kamara has commanded a large opportunity share over the last three seasons. When thinking of Murray, two questions may enter your mind: 1) Does he have any standalone value? 2) Should you draft Murray in fantasy football?
Latavius Murray’s 2020 season
Before we dive into Murray’s situation and if you should draft him, let’s take a moment to briefly review his statistical production from last season. He had 146 carries for 656 yards in 15 games. In 2020, Murray played in 15 games and faced eight or more defenders in the box on 45.3% of his 146 carries. He also had 23 receptions for 176 yards. Ultimately, Murray scored 5 touchdowns on 169 touches.
Playing second fiddle to Kamara, Murray still had a solid fantasy season. He finished as an RB3+ in 87% of his 15 active games, including two RB1 finishes. Murray averaged 0.79 fantasy points per opportunity in 2020. He is projected to see a similar workload in 2021.
The skill sets of the Saints’ running backs are perfectly balanced
Kamara has averaged 19.4 opportunities (rushing attempts plus targets) and 21.7 PPR fantasy points per game. One area in particular where Kamara excels is as a receiver out of the backfield. Murray is a perfect complement to Kamara in the Saints’ offense.
Murray’s rough running style and underestimated production are vital to the Saints’ offensive success. He’s a physical runner who acts like a battering ram and is rarely brought down by one defender. Both running backs are blessed with one of the top offensive lines in the NFL.
Elite offensive line play
Since head coach Sean Payton’s arrival, the Saints have consistently deployed one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Further helping matters, New Orleans returns all five of its starters this season. This unit excels in not only run blocking but pass blocking as well. This is a good thing, considering the Saints will have a new quarterback under center now that Drew Brees has retired.
The Saints’ offense is unlikely to change with Jameis Winston as the starter
The Saints’ offensive scheme is unlikely to change with Jameis Winston under center. Since 2006, quarterbacks in Payton’s scheme have averaged 38 pass attempts and 297 passing yards per game. This trend will continue along with how Payton has leveraged his running backs.
Payton has a history of leaning heavily on his running backs between the tackles and as receivers out of the backfield. During his time in New Orleans, Saints RBs have averaged 34 opportunities (rushing attempts and targets).
Should you draft Latavius Murray in 2021?
You shouldn’t hesitate to draft Murray, but it’s important to have the proper expectations. Murray has only averaged 11.6 opportunities per game since joining the Saints. Due to the presence of Kamara, he’s an RB3 with a low ceiling.
And now, you’re thinking that Murray’s running style is better suited for success in the red zone. This is incorrect.
Kamara is still the Saints’ go-to option in the red zone. He finished last season with 28 rushing attempts inside the 10-yard line. Murray, on the other hand, finished with only 12.
Murray’s current ADP
According to Fleaflicker, Murray is the RB44 with an ADP of 130. In pay-to-play formats, such as the National Fantasy Championship, Murray is the RB48 with an ADP of 140.
Murray is an excellent option as an RB4 for your fantasy football team. Someone you want on your roster, but a player you won’t have to depend on every week.
Nevertheless, Murray has the potential to be a league winner. In 2019, in Weeks 7 and 8, Murray finished as a top-three RB in fantasy while Kamara was out. He averaged 33 opportunities and 153.5 total yards per game.
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