by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Demarco Murray has been among the best running backs in the game for many years, and on the surface 2016 was no different as he posted 1,287 rushing yards and 9 TD. However there was a clear regression in his performance as the season progressed:
Entering the season at 29-years old and having accumulated a good number of touches over the past few seasons, there obviously is risk that he’s starting to wear down. The fact that his production faded makes jumping to that conclusion that much easier.
What makes it even worse is that while Murray was starting to struggle, rookie Derrick Henry was finding his stride. The numbers weren’t gaudy over the final eight games (269 yards), but he averaged 4.7 yards per carry and scored 4 TD. With a year of experience under his belt it’s easy to envision his role growing, especially since teams don’t like to watch their second round draft pick rendered as a bit of an afterthought. He’s going to get an opportunity, and he should see increased touches in his sophomore campaign.
Murray’s ability in the passing game is going to keep him valuable, but he’s also going to face a battle for targets and the team could become more reliant on the passing attack. Marcus Mariota has the potential to take a significant step forward in his third season, and the team has provided him with a new pair of weapons in first round draft pick (fifth overall) Corey Davis and the signing of Eric Decker. Throw in the continued presence of tight end Delanie Walker and there are only going to be so many balls to go around.
Last season Murray caught 53 passes on 67 targets, though it’s easy to envision both taking a step backwards.
A greater focus on getting the balls to the wide receivers…
A chance that he loses carries to the emerging sophomore…
That’s not a good combination, and it certainly makes you wonder why Murray currently carries an average ADP of 13.7. In PPR formats maybe you can justify it a bit more, but clearly he’s being drafted for his name and not his potential upside in ’17. Don’t make that mistake.
Sources – ESPN, Fantasy Pros
Make sure to check out our early 2017 Rankings: