It is remarkable how much can change in six weeks of an NFL offseason. Former Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray was set to be the primary back in Minnesota when he signed during mid-March, but the NFL draft turned that situation on its head.
In this update to our prior analysis on Murray, we will examine all that has transpired in the Twins Cities to reassess his current outlook for 2017 fantasy football drafts.
- As mentioned, the draft saw the Vikings trade up for Florida State running back Dalvin Cook in the second round. He brings an all-around game Murray doesn’t offer and can play three downs. The versatile rookie is far more electric than Murray, a strider/galloper.
- Cook benefits immeasurably by Murray’s recovery from ankle surgery. Almost all of the first-team reps have gone to Cook. While Murray has some advantage just by being a veteran player, Cook is gaining valuable rehearsal work in a system that is new to both of them. The veteran back is said to be on pace but may not be ready for the start of training camp.
- Vikings beat writer Matt Vensel said Murray will be the short-yardage and goal line back. That would leave Cook as the primary ball carrier who could struggle to find scoring chances inside of the red zone. Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer isn’t exactly the rah-rah type, but he has praised Cook up and down the field this offseason.
- Jerick McKinnon remains on the roster and could compete for spell work as a change-of-pace guy.
- Minnesota added talented center Pat Elflein to upgrade the interior of the offensive line.
Murray scored 12 times last year for the Raiders on fewer than 200 carries. He’s a much larger back than either of his counterparts in Minnesota, making a role around the stripe the most logical way to utilize him. Murray could be a frustrating back to play on a weekly basis and may threaten Cook’s stat line each week.
Owners currently are taking Murray in the late seventh or early eighth round area of standard drafts as the 34th running back off the board. Consider Murray a flex-worthy matchup play for the most part as a fourth fantasy back. Cook is the preferred draft target in all formats as a low-end RB2 or upside third back. His ADP is Pick 6:01 in standard and slightly later in point-per-reception formats.