Titans trade boosts DeMarco Murray's fantasy value
The Titans have taken a step toward bolstering their backfield, trading for veteran running back DeMarco Murray. As of this writing, the terms of the deal are not known, and while this is huge news for both franchises, it has even bigger ramifications in the fantasy world.
The last time Murray was on a team other than the Chip Kelly-led Philadelphia Eagles, he was known as one of the top five running backs in the NFL. He marched for 2,261 total yards and had 13 touchdowns in 2014, which led to him being one of the most sought-after free agents in 2015.
His 2015 campaign with the Eagles brought up all sorts of question marks, ranging from his dedication to the team to debate over how influential the Cowboys’ offensive line was to his production.
These question marks have not been removed, but the initial outlook of the Murray-to-Tennessee trade is positive from a fantasy standpoint. The Titans are likely more in-the-know than anyone at this point in time about his reasons for wanting to leave the Eagles, and it’s not likely they would have traded for a running back only to leave him on the sidelines — especially one who caused a stir for not being played enough last season.
When projecting running backs, touches are the most important thing. And, if the Titans feature Murray, he should receive a fair amount of touches. When the Titans switched to coach Mike Mularkey following Week 8 last year, their running game became more pronounced.
In Weeks 1-8, Ken Whisenhunt gave his starter just 55.7 percent of the carries in his offense. From Week 9-16, Mularkey wanted to feed his starter Antonio Andrews, and gave him 65.3 percent of the carries. That’s a big jump from the 51.5 percent of the carries that Murray received in the 15 games he played last year with the Eagles.
Despite Murray seeing low volume, missing one full game and having five carries or less in two other games, it’s somewhat remarkable that he even finished as the No. 18 running back in 2015.
The obvious negative is that Murray will be going from playing behind our Nos. 1- and 2-ranked offensive lines over the last two years, respectively, to playing behind the No. 23-ranked offensive line in Tennessee. Still, Marcus Mariota is going to create space for Murray with the threat of running at any moment, something that neither Tony Romo nor Sam Bradford did. Mularkey also mentioned that the offense would be getting “more exotic” this year.
As stated earlier, touches mean everything to fantasy running backs, and the trade to the Titans figures to be a great one for Murray from a touches standpoint, assuming they make him the featured back.
Murray’s value doesn’t return to 2014 levels, but the road is paved for him to have a decent RB2 season in 2016. Stay tuned as more unfolds.