The Age of Latavius officially commenced on November 20, 2014. That was the night when the world witnessed a 6′ 3″, 230 pound rarity put on a performance that could only be described as, well, out of this world. Four carries, 112 yards, and two touchdowns.
With Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew in the latter stages of their careers, Latavius Murray would take over the backfield and form a young, exciting duo with quarterback Derek Carr. To finish out the 2014 season, Murray rushed 68 times for 258 yards and caught 11 passes for an additional 108 yards. He did not score a touchdown. Entering the 2015 season, there was tremendous optimism for Murray’s prospects, as he was the unquestioned starter on an up-and-coming team. 266 carries for 1,066 yards, 41 receptions for 232 yards, and six touchdowns. Not bad, but not delivered-from-the-heavens great. With an improved offensive line and upgraded defense entering the 2016 season, the stars were aligned. Unfortunately, through three games, Murray has rushed 32 times for 153 yards, caught eight passes for 58 yards, and scored three touchdowns. Ladainian Tomlinson, in his prime, would put that up in one game!
The hallmark of excellence is longevity. Astrologers state that, as the earth orbits the sun at 67,000 miles per hour, it takes about 26,000 years in order to proceed through each of the 12 zodiac signs. The 11-year Raiders’ career of Marcus Allen defined an age. The Age of Latavius will be a blip in the fantasy football cosmos. A Latavius’ Comet, if you will. At least with the Raiders.
Murray’s contract is up after this year. My guess is the Raiders are not going to re-sign Murray in the offseason. The front office drafted DeAndre Washington in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, a back that general manager Reggie McKenzie thinks is a “complete back,” and signed undrafted free agent Jalen Richard. I initially thought that if the Raiders had no intention of re-signing Murray, then they would just run him into the ground, a la the Cowboys with Demarco Murray. After meditating on it a bit, I think the way it’s currently playing out is more indicative that the Raiders are planning on moving away from Murray. The coaching staff and front office want to give Washington and Richard experience, knowing that they will be counted on to shoulder a bigger load next season. In addition, there’s always the possibility of trading him, so they wouldn’t want to ruin the tread on those tires.
Murray’s a decent running back. The physical measureables are off the charts. With that said, while Murray has looked good this year, Washington and Richard look more agile and explosive. I think they are more suited to fit the Raiders’ offense going forward. Quick and agile, physical, and able to catch the ball out of the backfield. I can definitely see this offense go more spread and uptempo in the future, but as of now, they remain a power running team.
In 2015, Murray received 64% of the snaps. In 2016, that number is down to 53%. Jamize Olawale is vulturing touchdowns for goodness sakes. While Murray has received 32 carries on the year, Washington has 18, and Richard has 15. As the season goes on, I can see one of Washington or Richard begin to pick up more snaps. Much of Murray’s fantasy value is tied to the three touchdowns that he’s scored. That’s something that cannot be relied upon going forward, especially if he doesn’t receive the lion’s share of the work. In addition, receptions are going to be limited going forward, as both Washington and Richard are better receivers. Murray still has value, but the ceiling has definitely been lowered.
Thanks for reading and good luck this week!
You can reach Stan on Twitter @Stan_Son.