Popular Features

  • Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Draft Rankings
    April 30, 2019
    2019 NFL Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Draft Rankings

    Davis Mattek’s 2019 NFL Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Draft Rankings With the 2019 NFL Draft wrapped up and in the books, it is time to get to Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Draft Rankings. Most dynasty leagues that I am in are ready to begin their rookie drafts for the 2019 NFL Draft class. The draft brought…

  • Five Legitimate Fantasy Football Sleepers At Tight End
    May 28, 2019
    Three Impending Fantasy Football Breakout Seasons

    These Three Fantasy Football Breakout Players Are Ready To Shine It is no secret that every year in fantasy football, players emerge who were just barely on the periphery of fantasy football relevance during fantasy football draft season. Last year at this time, you did not know who Phillip Lindsay was, James White was just…

  • Superflex Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Draft
    May 8, 2019
    Industry Superflex Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Draft

    Fantasy Insiders Industry Superflex Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Draft It is Superflex Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Draft season! While I compiled my top 40 rankings of rookies for dynasty fantasy football purposes, we have yet to address Superflex dynasty leagues in the NFL365 package. I participate in the Fantasy Insiders SuperFlex Best Ball Dynasty league with…

  • Zero Wide Receiver Fantasy Football Strategy
    May 14, 2019
    Zero Wide Receiver Fantasy Football Targets

    Ten Zero Wide Receiver Fantasy Football Targets By this point, most RotoExperts readers are probably familiar with the concept of Zero RB drafting. Last week, I put together a list of ten Zero RB fantasy football candidates to help you in your fantasy football leagues. However, a less discussed strategy is the Zero wide receiver fantasy football…

  • Five Legitimate Fantasy Football Sleepers At Running Back
    May 30, 2019
    Five Legitimate Fantasy Football Sleepers At Running Back

    Five Running Back Fantasy Football Sleepers Finding late round running back fantasy football sleepers is the surest way to attain a league-winning roster. Phillip Lindsay and James Conner were legitimate league-winners at the running back position last year and they barely had ADP’s. Unlike most of our recent content, including the ULTIMATE Guide To Winning…

  • Justice Hill: Fantasy Football League-Winner In 2019
    July 15, 2019
    Justice Hill: Fantasy Football League-Winner In 2019

    Justice Hill: Fantasy Football League-Winner In 2019 Every single year, fantasy football leagues are swung by rookie running backs. Saquon Barkley was drafted as a superstar but Phillip Lindsay was a UDFA in 2018. Nick Chubb exploded in the second half of the season after Carlos Hyde was traded. Even Sony Michel returned value after…

  • 2019 Quarterback & Tight End Fantasy Football Tiers Rankings premium
    July 12, 2019
    2019 Quarterback & Tight End Fantasy Football Tiers Rankings

    2019 Quarterback & Tight End Fantasy Football Tiers Rankings Maybe more than at any other position, fantasy football tiers rankings are important for quarterbacks and tight ends. You are going to be drafting a plethora of wide receivers and running backs regardless of their tiers. There isn’t going to come a point where you say…

  • Wide Receiver Fantasy Football Tiers premium
    July 11, 2019
    2019 Wide Receiver Fantasy Football Tiers Rankings

    2019 Wide Receiver Fantasy Football Tiers Rankings Rankings for fantasy football are not an exact science. While rankings have to go in sequential order, there are these pockets that occur inside rankings where there is a real drop off between one number to the next. On the converse, there are pockets where a group of…

  • Melvin Gordon Trade
    July 11, 2019
    Fantasy Football What If: Melvin Gordon Was Traded

    Fantasy Football Implications: Potential Melvin Gordon Trade According to the one and only Adam Schefter from ESPN, the Los Angeles Chargers’ Melvin Gordon has asked for a new contract or to be traded before the start of the season. Similar to Le’Veon Bell, his holdout would not really impact the teams’ wins or losses. It…

  • The Deepest Possible Fantasy Football Sleepers In 2019
    July 10, 2019
    The Deepest Possible Fantasy Football Sleepers In 2019

    The Deepest Possible Fantasy Football Sleepers In 2019 Many years ago, Bill Barnwell wrote a piece on Grantland highlighting TRULY deep fantasy football sleepers. These were practice squad guys, players who might not even make the 75-man cutdown roster in the preseason. The idea has always stuck with me as an idea. Every year, there…

Can DeMarco Murray Be A Top 10 PPR Fantasy RB?

RotoExperts Staff September 21, 2016 9:31PM EDT
We are gearing up for Week 3 of the NFL season, and there’s been so much that has taken place already through just two weeks. Obviously, the multiple major injuries have been grabbing headlines, but there have also been some surprise players in key roles for teams. One of the more surprising ones through eight quarters is the play of DeMarco Murray as a pass catcher.

Tennessee Titans Running Back DeMarco Murray hauls in a pass from Marcus Mariota. Are we going to see a lot of this during the year? (Photo by Greg McWilliams/Icon Sportswire)

DeMarco Murray hauls in a pass from Marcus Mariota. Are we going to see a lot of this during the year? Photo by Greg McWilliams/Icon Sportswire

Murray, ppr stud? I mean, it sure seems that way through two weeks, doesn’t it? Is it a blip on the radar, or is Murray – if he stays healthy – going to be a Top 10 running back in PPR leagues?

On the year, Murray has 14 targets, catching 12 of them for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Both scores came in the first game of the season. Looking back through his career, Murray has fluctuated with his receptions:

2011: 26 receptions, 35 targets, 183 yards, 0 touchdowns

2012: 34 receptions, 42 targets, 247 yards, 0 touchdowns

2013: 53 receptions, 66 targets, 350 yards, 1 touchdown

2014: 57 receptions, 64 targets, 416 yards, 0 touchdowns

2015: 44 receptions, 14 targets, 91 yards, 2 touchdowns.

OK, so heading into the 2016 season, Murray had two receiving touchdowns to his name. He matched that in four quarters. We know that touchdowns are mostly random, but he’s getting the targets and receptions that could sustain the scoring. He’s currently on a pace of 96 receptions and 112 targets, which would put him six receptions short of Matt Forte’s record of 102 set in 2014 with the Chicago Bears.

Perhaps it’s a team philosophy, as even rookie Derrick Henry – who could take over for Murray at some point this season – has proved that he’s capable of catching the ball, as he has three catches on as many targets for 50 yards through three games.

When you look at the Titans’ offense and the way it’s constructed, it would make sense that the running backs would be used in the passing game. It’s clear that the Titans’ plan is to get the running backs involved as much as possible to lighten the load for second-year quarterback, Marcus Mariota.

Mariota is facing an issue that quarterbacks of the past have faced in Tennessee; there are just no playmakers at the wide receiver position.

Sure, fifth-round pick Tajae Sharpe has looked good so far, and he himself has proven to be a PPR starter for the Titans. But after him, it’s reliable tight end Delanie Walker, newcomer to Tennessee, Rishard Matthews, and eventually Kendall Wright.

Here’s the breakdown of snap counts on the Titans through two weeks of the season per Football Outsiders:

Sharpe – 95.5 percent

Harry Douglas – 55.2 percent

Matthews – 52.2 percent

Andre Johnson – 35.8 percent

Murray – 75 percent

Henry – 31 percent

Walker – 80.6 percent

When Wright returns, Matthews and especially Johnson’s snaps will shrink, with Sharpe, Walker and Murray all maintaining their plus-75 percent usage rate as long as they are healthy. It’s no surprise, then, that Sharpe (18), Murray (14) and Walker (11) lead the team in targets, either.

Let’s shift the focus to Mariota for a second. Mariota, who played at the greatest university in the country, was used to quick reads out of the pistol and shotgun formations. It was all about getting the ball out quickly to your playmakers, and not taking many shots downfield. It’s translated over to his play in the NFL, as he averages 6.9 yards per pass attempt, tying him with Dak Prescott for 25th in the league. Mariota was tied with Tom Brady, Jameis Winston and Jay Cutler last year for the ninth in the league with 7.6 yards on average.

In 2015, Dexter McCluster (41), Antonio Andrews (29), Bishop Sankey (22) and David Cobb (2) accounted for 94 total targets out of the backfield throughout the season. In the four games that Mariota did not start last year, the running backs had 21 receptions on 27 targets. So in the 12 games that Mariota played in, Mariota averaged 5.58 targets to the running backs per game. Through two games this year, he’s averaging 8.5 targets per game to his running backs.

In 41 collegiate games between 2012 and 2014, Oregon’s running backs had 220 receptions. During that stretch, Mariota attempted 1,167 passes, meaning that his running backs caught 18.8 percent of his pass attempts.

Mariota likes his running backs coming out of the backfield, if they have the skill set to be a playmaker with their hands. Mariota’s yards per attempt increased – expectedly – in college, going from 8, to 9.5, to 10 over his three years. So there’s reason to think they could go up in the NFL, too. But the Titans want to handle him with kid’s gloves. It’s shown by them restricting his rushing attempts, which is something he thrived at doing at Oregon.

When the Titans cut McCluster, we assumed that Murray would assume the third-down role no matter what, in addition to his first- and second-down role. But if Henry were to take over, Murray would still be in on passing downs. Murray – I think we can all agree – is the superior back compared to McCluster, Sankey, Andrews and Cobb last year, with all facets of his game.

Murray’s usage as a running back and as a pass catcher are legit. While he won’t sniff Forte’s record, he will provide Fantasy owners with a new career-high in receptions and – health permitting – will finish as a Top 10 back in PPR scoring.

Popular Features

  • Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Draft Rankings
    April 30, 2019
    2019 NFL Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Draft Rankings

    Davis Mattek’s 2019 NFL Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Draft Rankings With the 2019 NFL Draft wrapped up and in the books, it is time to get to Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Draft Rankings. Most dynasty leagues that I am in are ready to begin their rookie drafts for the 2019 NFL Draft class. The draft brought…

  • Five Legitimate Fantasy Football Sleepers At Tight End
    May 28, 2019
    Three Impending Fantasy Football Breakout Seasons

    These Three Fantasy Football Breakout Players Are Ready To Shine It is no secret that every year in fantasy football, players emerge who were just barely on the periphery of fantasy football relevance during fantasy football draft season. Last year at this time, you did not know who Phillip Lindsay was, James White was just…

  • Superflex Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Draft
    May 8, 2019
    Industry Superflex Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Draft

    Fantasy Insiders Industry Superflex Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Draft It is Superflex Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Draft season! While I compiled my top 40 rankings of rookies for dynasty fantasy football purposes, we have yet to address Superflex dynasty leagues in the NFL365 package. I participate in the Fantasy Insiders SuperFlex Best Ball Dynasty league with…

  • Zero Wide Receiver Fantasy Football Strategy
    May 14, 2019
    Zero Wide Receiver Fantasy Football Targets

    Ten Zero Wide Receiver Fantasy Football Targets By this point, most RotoExperts readers are probably familiar with the concept of Zero RB drafting. Last week, I put together a list of ten Zero RB fantasy football candidates to help you in your fantasy football leagues. However, a less discussed strategy is the Zero wide receiver fantasy football…

  • Five Legitimate Fantasy Football Sleepers At Running Back
    May 30, 2019
    Five Legitimate Fantasy Football Sleepers At Running Back

    Five Running Back Fantasy Football Sleepers Finding late round running back fantasy football sleepers is the surest way to attain a league-winning roster. Phillip Lindsay and James Conner were legitimate league-winners at the running back position last year and they barely had ADP’s. Unlike most of our recent content, including the ULTIMATE Guide To Winning…

  • Justice Hill: Fantasy Football League-Winner In 2019
    July 15, 2019
    Justice Hill: Fantasy Football League-Winner In 2019

    Justice Hill: Fantasy Football League-Winner In 2019 Every single year, fantasy football leagues are swung by rookie running backs. Saquon Barkley was drafted as a superstar but Phillip Lindsay was a UDFA in 2018. Nick Chubb exploded in the second half of the season after Carlos Hyde was traded. Even Sony Michel returned value after…

  • 2019 Quarterback & Tight End Fantasy Football Tiers Rankings premium
    July 12, 2019
    2019 Quarterback & Tight End Fantasy Football Tiers Rankings

    2019 Quarterback & Tight End Fantasy Football Tiers Rankings Maybe more than at any other position, fantasy football tiers rankings are important for quarterbacks and tight ends. You are going to be drafting a plethora of wide receivers and running backs regardless of their tiers. There isn’t going to come a point where you say…

  • Wide Receiver Fantasy Football Tiers premium
    July 11, 2019
    2019 Wide Receiver Fantasy Football Tiers Rankings

    2019 Wide Receiver Fantasy Football Tiers Rankings Rankings for fantasy football are not an exact science. While rankings have to go in sequential order, there are these pockets that occur inside rankings where there is a real drop off between one number to the next. On the converse, there are pockets where a group of…

  • Melvin Gordon Trade
    July 11, 2019
    Fantasy Football What If: Melvin Gordon Was Traded

    Fantasy Football Implications: Potential Melvin Gordon Trade According to the one and only Adam Schefter from ESPN, the Los Angeles Chargers’ Melvin Gordon has asked for a new contract or to be traded before the start of the season. Similar to Le’Veon Bell, his holdout would not really impact the teams’ wins or losses. It…

  • The Deepest Possible Fantasy Football Sleepers In 2019
    July 10, 2019
    The Deepest Possible Fantasy Football Sleepers In 2019

    The Deepest Possible Fantasy Football Sleepers In 2019 Many years ago, Bill Barnwell wrote a piece on Grantland highlighting TRULY deep fantasy football sleepers. These were practice squad guys, players who might not even make the 75-man cutdown roster in the preseason. The idea has always stuck with me as an idea. Every year, there…