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Does Kyler Murray have even MORE upside than he showed last year?

By Jared Smola 8:07am EDT 7/20/21


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Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals

What You Need to Know:

  • Murray finished 2nd among QBs in fantasy points last season, behind only Buffalo’s Josh Allen.
  • That followed a 2019 season that saw Murray score the 5th most fantasy points by a rookie QB in NFL history. He ranked 9th at his position in fantasy points that year.
  • Murray improved his pass production across the board from 2019 to 2020: From 3,722 yards and 20 TDs on a 64.4% completion rate and 6.9 yards per attempt to 3,971 yards and 26 TDs on a 67.4% completion rate and 7.1 yards per attempt.
  • He ranked 13th in passing yards and 12th in TDs last year.
  • Among 30 QBs with 300+ attempts last year, Murray finished 10th in completion rate, 21st in yards per attempt and 14th in Pro Football Focus passing grade.
  • It’s been his legs that have made him such a fantasy monster.
    • Murray ran 93 times for 544 yards and 4 TDs as a rookie -- all top 4 marks among QBs.
    • Then he tallied 133 carries, 819 yards and 11 scores last year -- all top 3 marks.
    • His 147.9 fantasy points via rushing production last year led all QBs.
  • Murray’s 2020 season likely would have been even bigger if not for a Week 11 shoulder injury. He didn’t miss any time with that injury, but his production declined.
    • In 10 games prior to the injury, Murray averaged 264.4 passing yards and 1.9 TDs on a 68.3% completion rate and 7.5 yards per attempt. In 5 games after, he averaged 248 passing yards and 1.4 TDs on a 65.0% completion rate and 6.4 yards per attempt.
    • Murray’s rushing production also sunk from 9.2 carries, 61.9 yards and 1 TDs per game pre-injury to 7.8 carries, 39.4 yards and .2 TDs post-injury.
    • He led all QBs in fantasy points per game over those first 10. He ranked just 12th over the final 5.
  • HC Kliff Kingsbury is back for his 3rd season alongside Murray this year. The Cardinals have been a fast-paced offense in their first 2 seasons together, ranking 4th and 1st in situation-neutral pace. After finishing just 22nd in offensive plays in 2019, they climbed to 4th last year.
  • WRs DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk, who finished top 2 on the team last year with 160 and 79 targets, are back for 2021. WR Larry Fitzgerald, who ranked 3rd with 72 targets, has not been re-signed as of early June. The soon-to-be 38-year-old might retire.
  • Arizona signed WR A.J. Green to a 1-year $6 million deal in free agency. The 33-year-old looked out of gas in Cincinnati last year, ranking near the bottom of the league in yards per route run and Pro Football Focus’ receiving grades. We’ll see if the change of scenery leads to a bounce-back season.
  • The Cardinals also used the 49th overall pick of this spring’s draft on WR Rondale Moore. The Purdue product is just 5’7 and had trouble staying healthy in college. But he’s a freak athlete and 1 of the better after-catch receivers to enter the NFL in recent memory. That makes him a nice fit in this offense.
  • At RB, Arizona lost Kenyan Drake in free agency. He caught just 25 of 31 targets for 137 yards last year.
  • The Cardinals added former Steelers RB James Conner, who has 124 catches in 36 games over the past 3 seasons.
  • And they return RB Chase Edmonds, who ranked 4th on the team in targets (67), 3rd in catches (53) and 5th in receiving yards (402) last year.
  • The Cardinals also upgraded the offensive line by trading a 3rd-round pick to Vegas for C Rodney Hudson, who ranked 10th among 34 qualifying Cs in PFF’s 2020 pass-blocking grades. That’s a big improvement over last year’s starter, Mason Cole, who ranked 32nd.
  • Murray is likely in for some rushing TD regression after scoring 11 times on the ground last year. But he ranked 4th among QBs with 14 carries inside the 10-yard line and 3rd with 7 carries inside the 5. Six of his 11 TDs came from inside the 10.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line:

Murray has opened his NFL career by scoring the 5th most fantasy points by a rookie QB in NFL history and then finishing as QB2 last year. His 2020 campaign likely would have been even bigger had he not been slowed by a shoulder injury late in the year.

He’s back in the same offense under HC Kliff Kingsbury for 2021. And stud WR DeAndre Hopkins returns for his 2nd season in Arizona. We’ll see what the Cardinals get from veteran WR A.J. Green and rookie WR Rondale Moore.

It’s Murray’s elite rushing ability that makes him a safe bet for another top-5 fantasy finish with a ceiling that climbs to the top of the position.


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