FA Expectancy: Latavius Murray

Updated: July 23rd 2017

Throughout the offseason, I will be preparing a collection of articles that will focus on free agents and trade candidates. The articles will discuss the player in question, and what the move does to their value, as well as what their landing spot means for their new and old teams.

Latavius Murray – RB, Minnesota Vikings

It is hard to find anyone that the fantasy community is more down on than Latavius Murray in 2017. After letting Adrian Peterson walk the Vikings signed Murray to a 3 year/ $15million deal to theoretically lead their backfield on the first two downs. Many question what Murray can really offer his new team as he was never able to carry the full workload in Oakland in 2016. His move from a top 5 rated Raiders offensive line to a bottom 5 rated Vikings doesn’t really help his cause either. But he is technically the lead back (as of writing this article before the NFL Draft) so he should get a fair share of the touches. Is he a sneaky buy-low candidate?

Tyler Buecher of NumberFire looked at how penalties, specifically pass interference calls, can affect the season end results for fantasy numbers and whether some players were negatively and positively affected because of them. His results can be found here. For running backs, these were the players that received the most benefits from the calls.

Player

1st-and-Goal Penalty TDs

Total TDs

Fantasy Finish

LeGarrette Blount

5

18

RB9

Latavius Murray

4

12

RB13

Lamar Miller

3

6

RB20

Melvin Gordon

3

12

RB7

Devonta Freeman

2

13

RB6

Doug Martin

2

3

RB54

Ezekiel Elliott

2

16

RB2

Matt Asiata

2

6

RB37

 

Murray benefited the second most from pass interferences calls with four of his twelve rushing touchdowns coming from an interference call leading to 1st and goal from the 1-yard line. Since we know that touchdowns fluctuate season-to-season it wouldn’t be surprising to see a decline in his totals, especially with a team that will have less frequent trips inside the red zone. Ironically, Matt Asiata is also on this list which suggests that the Vikings are indeed a candidate for goal line touchdowns to regress next season.

So what does this mean for Vikings players?

The short answer is not much. Murray may or may not be the bruiser back heading into 2017 with Jerrick McKinnon continuing his role as the change-of-pace and satellite receiving back. I expect the Vikings to take a running back in the draft to try and groom into their featured runner once they move on from Murray. If there are any Bishop Sankey truthers still left out there this might be his last opportunity to be a usable NFL running back in case Murray falters or more likely gets injured. In really deep leagues Sankey could be a dart throw that pays off for a couple of games if he shows that he can ward off any potential incoming rookies should Murray be absent from the lineup.

I guess you could call this an upgrade for Sam Bradford who had zero options for handing the ball off last season. It’s unlikely that any coordinator will fear the run game though so the Vikings should expect aggressive blitzes and plenty of nickel and dime packages to cover the receivers and tight end. Murray’s presence could have a negative impact on the receivers scoring opportunities inside the 10 yard line as there were nine passing touchdowns that came within 10 yards of the end zone in 2016 (4 to Kyle Rudolph, and 1 each to McKinnon, Stefon Diggs, Jarius Wright, Cordarrelle Patterson and Adam Thielen).

So what is Murray’s Value?

As previously stated the Murray stock is at an all-time low so if you were ever going to get in cheap now is the time. He’s been moved around in my home league four times already this offseason and I have had several other offers in other leagues with him as a throw in. As Bernard Faller pointed out in his article, “Read the Fine Print” while Murray’s contract may be for 3 years it really works out to be a 1 year deal with additional team option years added on. He essential could be cut at the start of next season and save the Vikings $5.1million in cap space. This is why I expect the team to invest and develop a running back from this loaded class to then hand him the keys in 2018.

If Murray is available in your auction you should be able to get him dirt cheap as a 1-year rental player that could be used for decent matchups. Otherwise, unless Murray is on a steal of contract I wouldn’t value him for more than a third round pick. There are too many lottery ticket running backs that could increase their value by 2018 in the second or third round to settle for a low floor RB2/3 like Murray.

So what does this mean for the Raiders?

The Raiders have been linked to bringing the corpse of Marshawn Lynch back for weeks now and while playing behind that offensive line would give him some value I just don’t see it being worth it for real or fantasy purposes. Bringing in fresh legs from the draft would be the best option for the team and any player they select will see his rankings shoot up the rookie ADP rankings. DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard were nice waiver wire additions last year and they still hold value right now especially if a back isn’t selected by the end of day 2. However, Washington wasn’t a high selection either (5th Round) and Richard was an UDFA so the Raiders do not owe them anything for playing time. They are both savvy players to watch for in your auctions but don’t get carried away in a bidding war for mediocrity.


Make sure to continue to read more Free Agency Expectancy articles throughout the offseason to be prepared for your summer Auctions. Have a player that you want me to evaluate? Look for my polls to cast your vote or send me a message on Twitter @naandrews19.

GM’s Guide to Matt Waldman’s RSP

Updated: July 23rd 2017

There are a lot of dynasty resources out there but none of them is as comprehensive as Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio (RSP).  There are two parts to the RSP, the Rookie Scouting Portfolio proper which is released before the NFL draft, and the Post-Draft update. First time readers will undoubtedly be overwhelmed as I was in 2015 when I first bought the RSP but don’t be dissuaded!  After two years, I am far from an RSP expert but I truly believe that the amount of research you do is directly correlated to your long term dynasty success.  Whether you spend an hour with the RSP, cherry picking paragraphs about your favorite players, or power through the full 1,600 page document, you’ll be a more informed dynasty owner because of it.  It should be no surprise that the RSP is not perfect in it’s predictions and conclusions, nothing can be given such a fickle topic, but don’t let that discourage you from purchasing again in the future even if you miss on somebody this season; past issues are a treasure trove of information when players change teams or hit free agency.  Because of the unique cap/contract format of RSO, I thought it would be helpful to present some tips for RSO owners to get the most out of the RSP.  For more information about the RSP, testimonials and details on how to purchase it, click here.

Pair Rookie Productivity Charts with Depth Chart Notes

The RSP has rookie productivity charts for each position.  These charts are based on the last ten years of rookies and show the average production for a player who had a certain threshold of passes/rushes/receptions.  For example, there were 63 RBs in the sample who had at least 100 rushing attempts in their rookie season; those backs averaged nearly 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 6 TDs.  When the threshold increases, obviously so does the production (i.e. a better rookie will end up getting more touches).  I find it interesting that there seems to be a sweet spot in the 150-200 carry range that can net you some great value with your RSO rookie draft picks.  Somebody like Zeke Elliot who is going to be a starter from day one is an obvious early draft pick but does not offer much value.  The key is being able to identify which rookie backs will get the opportunity to fall in that 150-200 carry range where their value is maximized.  In 2016, the rookie backs who did were Rob Kelley (168 carries) and Devontae Booker (174).  Kelly was far off the radar in May of last year for RSO owners, Booker, though, is the real takeaway.  Similar to the Redskins and Matt Jones, the Broncos have been hesitant to commit to CJ Anderson and ended up drafting Booker in 2016.  If you grabbed Booker in your 2016 rookie draft despite him not being the immediate starter, you were rewarded with some decent output and hopefully a future starter.  Jordan Howard ended up exceeding the 200 carry mark, but is a further example of a shaky incumbent leading to a great rookie pick.  By pairing Waldman’s rookie productivity charts with his depth chart notes, you can find rookies like Booker who have a shorter path to meaningful production and draft accordingly in the late 1st and early 2nd rounds of your rookie draft.

Pay Attention to ADP Value Designations

In the Post-Draft update, there is a lot of ADP data.  My favorite way to view this data is through the lens of Waldman’s “value designations.”  These notations are formatted like “over 5” or “under 5.”  What that means is that Waldman feels that that player is either being over- or under-drafted by that many spots.  This data is useful in two ways because it can help you avoid reaching for a player and it can also help you identify a bargain in RSO contract terms.  Out of the top 24 rookies by ADP (so about the first two rounds of your rookie draft), Waldman identified C.J. Prosise, Pharoh Cooper and Kenyan Drake as over-drafted players.  Prosise and Drake have some value but the difference between where you had to draft them based on ADP and where they were valued by Waldman’s research is about $500,000 (or, exactly how much you might need for that mid-season waiver wire savior).  Instead, you could have realized the lack of talent at your pick, traded back, and drafted somebody like Tajae Sharp a little later and received a better return on investment.  Conversely, players like Kenneth Dixon and Malcolm Mitchell were marked as under-drafted heading into 2016.  Getting a bargain on a potential contributor when you draft these guys can help set you up for future salary cap success.

Don’t Fall in Love with Lottery Tickets

Those of you who are college football fans like myself will likely recognize some of the names in the “UDFAs to Watch” and the “Fantasy Waiver Wire Gems” sections in the Post-Draft update.  Undoubtedly it’s a great list for deep dynasty leagues or those with a taxi squad but as an RSO owner it’s easy to get excited by this and suffer from confirmation bias.  Don’t fall in love with them and take their inclusion as confirmation that you should take them in your RSO rookie draft.  Most RSO leagues (check your settings) will not have a deep enough roster to warrant taking these players.  If your league rosters 35+ players, maybe, but anything less and I think you should stay away.  That is not to say that these players will never “hit,” I just mean that they are at least two years away from being relevant and until then it will tie up much needed salary cap space.  It may not sound like much, but that $900,000 you commit to your 3rd round rookie pick could keep you from picking up that free agent RB you desperately need or keep you from completing a trade because you’d be receiving more salary than you have space for.  Even if you have salary cap available, you’re going to be faced with cutting that lottery ticket and you’ll take the cap hit to add insult to injury.  In 2015, one of those guys I fell in love with in the RSP and nearly drafted was Zach Zenner.  On my 23-man roster, I would definitely have been forced to cut him before he became useful for a few games late in 2016.  In 2016, two of those UDFAs I had my eye on were Peyton Barber and Jalen Richard.  Ultimately, Barber offered minimal contribution despite the Bucs RB injuries; Richard looks like he could be a better pro than fantasy asset (especially in standard where his 29 receptions wouldn’t count) because his production was decent but inconsistent.  Don’t forget, RSO is not like other dynasty formats where you can be more patient with a player.  If you’re drawing a salary for my RSO team you better be closer to contributing or I’ll have to find somebody who is.  That “what have you done for me lately” mentality is one of the things that makes RSO so similar to the real NFL.

Be sure to purchase the RSP on April 1 and get a head start on your league.  Check back again after the draft and I will try to apply some of the above lessons to the 2017 draft class.


Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  Robert works as a recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.