With fellow running back Alvin Kamara hobbled with injury over the past two weeks, Latavius Murray has taken the helm of the backfield duties for the New Orleans Saints and ran with it. Murray is coming off of a monster Week 7 performance in which he put up 32 fantasy points.
Murray may once again be in-line for an extended workload, as Kamara is currently listed as questionable for the team’s Week 8 matchup vs. the Arizona Cardinals. Can Murray sustain RB1 fantasy numbers with Kamara out of the lineup? And if Kamara does return, does that spell the end of Murray’s fantasy success? Let’s discuss.
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Latavius Murray’s Fantasy Outlook vs. Arizona Cardinals
Latavius Murray was brought in to New Orleans in what many believed to be a role similar to the one Mark Ingram had manned in years past. However, Murray saw less than five carries per game over his first five contests as a member of the Saints. Then, just when all seemed lost for Murray’s fantasy worth this season, A hobbled, yet active Kamara in Week 7 foresaw Murray produce arguably his best performance in a Saints uniform. In fact, the day would have been even better, had it not been for a Murray touchdown called back due to a holding penalty.
However, Week 8’s performance put Murray’s past showings this season to shame. New Orleans featured their big-bodied running back with Kamara out of the lineup. All the former UCF Knight did was rack up 150 total yards and two touchdowns on his way to the second-most prolific fantasy output by a player at his position for the week.
With those two rushing touchdowns, Murray currently has 35 rushing touchdowns since 2015, placing him in some very special company.
If that’s not enough to get Murray’s fantasy owners’ juices flowing, their running back will also be welcoming quarterback Drew Brees back under center this week. Brees, who hasn’t played since Week 2, will keep the Arizona safeties honest, in return giving more running lanes for Murray to run through.
Speaking of Arizona, the Cardinals have fared pretty well against running backs this season overall, actually ranking as the ninth-best fantasy unit against the position in 2019. However, those numbers are greatly skewed due to early-season success. Over the past five weeks, they’ve surrendered 19 points per game to opposing starting running backs as well as five touchdowns to the position.
Should You Start or Sit Latavius Murray in Week 8?
The availability of Alvin Kamara is certainly something to keep an eye on, although I don’t think it completely alters Murray’s fantasy value one way or another. Obviously, if Kamara is out Murray is a locked-in fantasy starter. However, if Kamara is active I believe Murray has shown enough to warrant a more lucrative role within the offense. Plus, even if Kamara plays, his usage will likely be limited as he is certainly not 100%.
Murray ranges from a solid RB3 to low-end RB2 with Kamara in the lineup, all the way up to a low-end RB1 with Kamara out.