As you rigorously prepare and research leading into each fantasy football season, you’ll always find some new/less familiar names near the top of the list. “Introducing” will be a series that features these lesser known players who are expected to begin the season in heavily featured roles for the very first time. Never shy away from players just because they’re yet to make a name for themselves … yet.
Latavius Murray — RB, Oakland Raiders
One of the teams that’s always in the discussion to surprise us in 2015 has been the Raiders. I’m not willing to go as far as predicting we see them in the playoffs (we won’t), but Oakland has definitely improved. They’ve found what they think is their QB of the future in Derrick Carr, and paired him with a promising stud at WR, Amari Cooper.
Although there are many holes left to fill on Oakland’s defense, RB might be the only position left to fill on the offensive side of the ball. Unless, of course, the Raiders have already found their man. Enter Latavius Murray.
Murray probably had the quietest 2014 season of all the players that will be featured on “Introducing.” He opened the 2014 season returning kicks and receiving a carry here and there before Oakland finally realized what it had on its hands.
In Week 11, Murray took four carries for 43 yards, caught three passes for another 16 yards and racked up 75 yards in the return game. Hmm, maybe it would be smart to try working Murray in more often?
Then, in Week 12 in a Thursday night game, the Raiders decided to hand Murray the ball four more times…
The four touches translated to 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns. From there on the starting job was Murray’s, but keeping pace with his breakout performance would be an impossible task for anybody. Over the final four weeks of the season, Latavius was removed from special teams and given 79 touches on offense, which he turned into 366 yards, but no scores.
This year, Murray steps into training camp as the uncontested starter, and the Raiders are going to ride him in the run game. Sure, Oakland figures to pass more this season now that they presumably have a legitimate QB/WR duo (finally), but that’s only going to open up more holes for Murray on the ground (not that he needs any with his elusiveness).
Part of the reason Murray wasn’t as successful in his brief starting role at the end of the season was because defenses were prepared for him. After the damage he caused the Chiefs, other teams would be silly not to treat him as the Raiders’ primary weapon. Murray was still solid in his four game stint as a starter, but this season he’ll be special.
Murray is a freak athlete — almost on an Adrian Peterson type level. But aside from his physical abilities and new upgrades surrounding him on offense, Murray has another all-important fantasy aspect working in his favor.
I mentioned he entered camp as the uncontested starter. Emphasis on uncontested … because there’s nobody behind him. Roy Helu Jr. figures to work in on some 3rd and longs, but aside from that, it’s going to be a full dose of Latavius. The next best RB on the team is Trent Richardson, who’s barely hanging onto an NFL job at this point.
There’s no need to overreact on Murray — he’s not going to be a fantasy RB1. The hype is there, but they’re still the Raiders. That said, Murray is completely capable of 1,400 total yards and 6-8 touchdowns. Even though we know very little about him, Latavius Murray is very trustworthy in 2015.
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Want to read more from the “Introducing” series? Find all the players covered below.