Dynasty Dilemma: Kyler Murray
By Dylan Schroeder
A late report on the eve of the NFL Draft has shifted Paris Johnson – a tackle prospect from Ohio State – to the betting favorite at number three overall for the Arizona Cardinals.
It has been reported that Kyler Murray loves Johnson and wants him to become a stonewall on the offensive line to alleviate some of the pressure that has disrupted the Arizona offense. Last season, according to Warren Sharp, there was a mess of metrics that showed help is desperately needed up front, as they were of the five worst NFL units in false starts, holding penalties, pressure rate, time to throw, and more.
Kyler Murray is lobbying the Cardinals to draft OL Paris Johnson
in 2021 Kyler Murray lobbied the Cardinals to draft an OL (Creed Humphrey)
they did not
instead, they drafted a linebacker
in 2020 Kyler Murray lobbied the Cardinals to draft an OL (Tristan Wirfs)
they did not…
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) April 25, 2023
Traditionally, the Cardinals have had a tendency to draft defensive players early, rather than make additions to the offense. In fact, they haven’t drafted an offensive lineman with any of their previous 10 first round picks. While I think the smartest thing to do would be taking who you believe to be the best tackle – or trading down to do so – to protect your $231 million investment, it could be extremely difficult to actually convert that concept when you’re staring a prospect such as Will Anderson in the face at the 1.03.
At this point, there are dozens of questions that are surrounding the Arizona Cardinals, and certainly several of those are tied to the quarterback, at least in some capacity, which leads us to another dynasty dilemma.
As a manager, would you rather have a known commodity at quarterback with great upside like Kyler Murray, or maybe a mystery box that comes with more questions than the giant, animated one on the outside of the box? It sounds simple in those terms, but many are chasing the latter at this time!
In his short career, Kyler Murray has been a guy that, despite producing in a mostly fantastic way when on the field, the dynasty community has had a difficult time committing to him.
Kyler Murray Startup ADP vs. Fantasy Finish
When a player is coming off of an injury, it’s always a little scary to invest in them, especially when that injury is something as significant as a tear to your ACL and meniscus.
However, let me make one thing exceptionally clear. That’s a redraft mindset.
Kyler Murray, a jackrabbit, konami code quarterback is available on the low-low, and he can instantly boost the reputation of your dynasty teams.
Since coming into the league in 2019, Kyler Murray ranks third amongst all quarterbacks in rushing yards and touchdowns. While he’s only a couple hundred yards behind a guy like Josh Allen in the rushing yardage department, he has also played in eight less games!
On a per game basis, Kyler’s rushing production per game has netted himself 6.2 points per game over his 57 career appearances. For comparison, Josh Allen is only a tick higher at 6.5, and he leads the position in rushing touchdowns during that same timeframe.
You essentially have a built-in rushing touchdown each week, which has been a huge part of why Kyler has been a top five fantasy quarterback over the last three seasons on a per game basis.
When you take into consideration that he’s still, somehow, only 25-years-old, he should probably be seated at the table with guys like Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, and Justin Herbert. At minimum, he’s sitting at the table with these guys, but he’s using the folding chair from the basement because you don’t have enough matching chairs in your dining room set.
However, if you look at current startups, Kyler Murray has found himself in the tier below those listed and is seated with Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence, Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott, and the top couple incoming rookies – Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud. None of which have the combination of rushing upside and passing chops that Murray does.
This, my friends, is what we call a bargain.
On top of his rushing floor, Kyler Murray is a talented passer, which is often overlooked. Again, since coming into the NFL, he has been within 10 passing yards per game of quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Josh Allen.
Unfortunately, his touchdown upside and passing efficiency have been capped for a variety of reasons. Most notably, their system under ex-head coach Kliff Kingsbury didn’t translate to the NFL as beautifully as it was displayed in the Big 12. As creatively stated by Jason Katz of Pro Football Network, they gave us the “horizontal raid” offense. Or as the Fantasy Footballers infamously coined, Kingsbury required players like DeAndre Hopkins – ya know, one of the best receivers of the last decade – to run a route bush, rather than a route tree.
The good news for Murray and dynasty managers is that era is over. Last season, according to PlayerProfiler, Kyler fell below the league average in pass attempts, deep ball attempts, red zone attempts, passing yards, air yards, or any yards per attempt metric, despite finishing TOP FIVE (!!!) in pace, plays per game, and accuracy. Each of those categories, naturally, should increase because it’d be difficult to fall further behind the league median.
As we move closer to the 2023 season, and rookie fever grows hotter and hotter, there’s a tremendous window to buy a discounted fantasy superstar. He’s projected to miss as much as the first half of next season, but don’t let that push you away from greatness! The moment Kyler Murray returns to the starting lineup, the discount is gone, and the production will return to a level that is sought after in dynasty communities.
The offensive weapons on this roster are currently good, not great, in my opinion.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Marquise Brown being one of the more underrated receivers in the NFL. Rondale Moore has shown us some juice. Trey McBride was and still is an interesting prospect at tight end. James Conner is perennially disrespected. Greg Dortch did some stuff last year when given opportunities. Zach Ertz is still alive and well (kind of), in case you forgot he’s on the roster.
However, the gigantic elephant in the room is the mystery that surrounds DeAndre Hopkins.
After a trade request, it’s likely that Hopkins is elsewhere as early as this weekend. If he’s going to be moved during the draft, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Arizona use the capital they get in exchange for him on an offensive prospect or two.
Last season, while Murray waited six games for Hopkins to return from suspension, he was just fine – QB6 overall and QB7 in points per game.
That said, without a true difference maker outside to pair with Hollywood Brown, the weekly ceiling for Murray is lowered. Yes, the rushing upside would still make him a safe player, but the overall potency of the offense would clearly take a hit and replicate ways of the past. In short, explosive plays and scoring opportunities would shrink or remain the same, rather than grow.
Now, the beauty of dynasty is that things can change in a hurry, and you should simply follow the talent, rather than the situation, but it doesn’t make you super confident if you’re looking for stability at the game’s most premium position.
Another reason to potentially sell Kyler is the injury risk. After playing every game his first two seasons, he has been plagued by some injuries the last couple of years. He missed six games this season and three the year before.
Personally, I’m not one to hold injuries against a player, especially quarterbacks, but we have yet to see how a significant injury like an ACL and meniscus tear can impact his rushing upside and athleticism. With Murray’s body type, part of what makes Murray so dangerous is how he can avoid pass rushers, extend the play, and make those off-schedule highlights that we’ve grown to love. If there’s a hitch in his game, or a lack of burst, he becomes way less effective in those areas.
It has been stated that he and the organization are going to take their time to make sure he fully recovers before bringing him back onto the field, so I’m sure things will be fine, but it still creates a place of discomfort surrounding his future.
If I’m going to roster Murray, my roster construction needs to reflect that with a streamable quarterback or two in my depth just to plan ahead.
If I’m able to flip Kyler Murray for someone in that Lawrence/Fields/Lawrence tier, plus an additional asset, I’d have to think long and hard about it.
All over social media, there have been Kyler Murray trades occurring. Some have been as little as the 1.02 or 1.04 for Kyler, straight up. Some have been a middling first round pick with some additional draft compensation attached, like a couple second round picks or a future piece.
At that price, I’m scooping up Murray every single time. At minimum, I’m kicking the tires on Murray and throwing out a low offer to his manager in each league to gauge the value. If I can get a counter or something at market value, I’m smashing accept and preparing for his return because he will certainly out-perform the current expectation.
It’s not uncommon for folks to value these incoming rookies at the same level or even above a guy like Murray right now because they’re the shiny new car, but at 25-years-old, there are hardly any miles on Murray, and he provides the weekly safety and upside that is an ultra-rare combination to find. There’s no guarantee that incoming rookies are going to hit, let alone produce to the level we’ve seen from Murray, so I’m looking to buy!
Dylan Schroeder joined the Dynasty Pros staff in 2023. Before this, he was writing for his personal blog site UnderratedSportsFan.com, as well as a few other free lance opportunities throughout the years. He’s passionate about dynasty football, teaching, and coaching. You can view his thoughts and more fantasy football content from him on his Twitter @DSTweetedThis.