RB Latavius Murray has huge potential with the Ravens
By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)
After some unfortunate injuries leading up to Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season, including JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards, the stable of running backs for the Baltimore Ravens is going to look much different than expected. Their rushing attack, in addition to quarterback Lamar Jackson of course, will now likely come from a combination of multiple running backs. This is not uncommon for the Ravens, who use a creative run-heavy scheme and can support multiple running backs from a fantasy football perspective.
The distribution of carries in Baltimore is going to be something to keep a very close eye on over the early weeks of the season. They have a few different options for who could receive the biggest workload, including Ty’Son Williams, Devonta Freeman, and Le’Veon Bell, but the leading candidate to have the most production is their newest addition to the roster, Latavius Murray. It may take a week or two to get him up to speed, but as soon as he is fully acclimated with his new team, he will likely take over as their RB1. Here is why Murray is a buy in fantasy leagues and the top choice of who to own in the ravens backfield.
Consistent and Reliable
Across his seven seasons in the NFL, Murray has only missed four games total. He has consistently solid production including 713 rushing yards and 6 rushing touchdowns per season, 4.2 yards per carry, and just two lost fumbles in his entire career. He played in three very different schemes with the Raiders, Vikings, and Saints but that never impacted his steady output so changing teams again would not appear to have any negative effect on his game. He is used to playing in situations where he has to compete for carries so being in the Ravens currently crowded backfield is no different. He has always delivered positive results when given the chance and this may be his biggest opportunity for more touches in over five years. A bigger workload in an extremely RB-friendly scheme could mean big things for Murray this year.
None of the other RB options on the Ravens are nearly as dependable as Murray. Freeman has been unable to stay healthy over the last three seasons, playing in just 21 games combined, and his yards per carry have steadily decreased. His 3.5 yards per carry over the last three years are significantly lower than his career 4.1 average, which indicates regression. Williams has not played an NFL game yet but was not at all a high prospect coming out of college. In fact, he was undrafted, which speaks to his perceived low potential as a player. Bell is an interesting situation but it appears that his best days are behind him at this point.
In his five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bell was one of the very best backs in the NFL with a very dynamic skill set. He eclipsed 2200 total yards back in the 2014 season and came close to the 2000 yard mark twice more in both 2016 and 2017. After sitting out the entire 2018 season because of a contract dispute, he has never been quite the same. Playing in 26 games over the last two seasons, he has recorded just 1716 total yards combined. In his prime that would be a down year for just a single season total. Now 29 years old and 4 years removed from elite status, it is more than likely that his best days are long gone.
Considering all of the question marks and inconsistencies with all of the other options, Murray is by far the most reliable back in Baltimore. All of them will get carries at some point and their play on the field will likely determine the share of touches moving forward. Murray is the newest to the team so he may not get too much of a workload in week 1 but as the season continues on it should increase drastically. All things considered, he is the leading candidate to be the RB1 for the Ravens and has an opportunity to have a huge season in this run heavy scheme. If there is one back to buy in fantasy right now, Murray is the best investment.