The Arizona Cardinals couldn’t get past the idea of drafting Kyler Murray with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. In turn, it led to the decision most expected, as the team traded last year’s first-round selection in Josh Rosen. With Rosen no longer in the picture and Murray the clear-cut starter, the fantasy football chatter now gets underway.
There are a few ways to evaluate the fantasy outlook for the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, some of which are positives and others are negatives. The upside Murray flashed during the 2018 season with the Oklahoma Sooners was eye-opening, as he completed 69 percent of his passes for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns.
Where Murray’s fantasy value also comes from is his ability as a runner. While there’s no way to accurately predict how much he’ll run at the next level, the Cardinals new quarterback racked up 1,001 yards and 12 scores with his legs over 14 games last season.
There’s no question Murray has fantasy upside, but when to select the rookie is the real question, and we’re going to breakdown his overall outlook.
Kyler Murray’s Fantasy Football Value & Impact
One of the biggest increases in the value behind Murray’s fantasy outlook has to be the players around him. He and running back David Johnson, who signed a three-year contract extension just prior to the 2018 season, could be one of the most explosive backfield duos in the NFL. Johnson will not only ease the pressure off his quarterback but is an exceptional pass-catcher.
Going beyond that, veteran and star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will provide a reliable target for Murray, and create a situation where the quarterback has a consistent safety outlet. Christian Kirk impressed as his rookie season rolled on in 2018, catching 43 passes for 590 yards and three touchdowns, creating yet another strong option through the air.
Finally, Murray will lead an offense created by new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, whose high-octane offense at Texas Tech was previously led by Patrick Mahomes. While Kingsbury’s offensive scheme may change a bit, it previously featured a whole lot of passing and plenty of points being put on the board.
When to Draft Kyler Murray in Fantasy Football
The million-dollar question comes down to when it makes sense to draft Murray in fantasy football leagues this season. On one hand, his upside in a Kingsbury-led offense is incredible to think about. But on the other, there are bound to be bumps and bruises for rookie quarterbacks in their first season.
The most recent fantasy football rankings from ESPN’s Matthew Berry (prior to the draft), list Baker Mayfield, Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson and Jared Goff from Nos. 7-11. Based on Murray’s upside as a runner and the Cardinals expected offense, I’d be fine taking him ahead of Goff, and possibly even Wilson and Roethlisberger as well, depending on how much you like him.
Assuming you’re playing in a 12-team league which starts one quarterback, landing Murray somewhere in rounds 6-8 may be on the high end, but not unrealistic. I’d project the quarterbacks go in rounds somewhere around the following range (based off Berry’s rankings):
- Patrick Mahomes: Round 1
- Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Deshaun Watson: Rounds 2-3
- Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Baker Mayfield: Rounds 4-5
- Cam Newton, Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson: Rounds 6-7
- Russell Wilson, Jared Goff: Rounds 8-9