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Kyler Murray Is a QB1 in 2019 Redraft Leagues

For reasons that are completely understandable, the primary focus on rookies after they are drafted is on their long-term outlook, particularly as it pertains to keeper/dynasty formats. Much of the discussion centers around where a rookie should go in a rookie draft and how valuable he will be over the next few years.

What about the redraft leagues? With all of the talk on Kyler Murray's future, his present is being glossed over.

We know that the quarterback position itself is devalued in standard, single-QB redraft leagues. Even understanding that to be the case, Kyler Murray is being seriously undervalued in terms of what he can do as a rookie.

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Three Tiers High and Rising

Let's start with Murray's ADP. Now, it is currently May. Once Murray plays in the preseason, all it will take is a couple of highlight-reel plays to spike his ADP multiple rounds. Such is the fickle nature of fantasy gamers. Recency bias is strong. As of now, Murray is trending as a high-end QB2 going in the 10th round. I rarely consider a QB any earlier than the ninth round, but even if Murray gets to the eighth round, he may be worth it on upside alone.

Murray is currently going behind guys like Philip Rivers, Jameis Winston, Jared Goff, and Carson Wentz. Murray has a higher ceiling than all of them. If you're waiting on a QB, you don't need a guy that is going to be a reliable QB1 like Rivers has been for the better part of a decade (seriously, he's the QB10-14 every year, why are people drafting him on purpose?).

In 2018, the Arizona Cardinals attempted just 495 passes as a team, 29th in the league. They ranked dead last in plays per drive at 5.03 and yards per drive at 21.18. By a number of offensive team metrics, the Cardinals were the worst. The team played slow, failed to extend drives, and called ineffective and inefficient plays. We know that QB volume does not correlate with fantasy points, but we also know that passing is the most effective way to move the ball down the field and extend drives. The Cardinals are going to pass a lot more in 2019, which will achieve first downs, allow the offense to run more plays, and result in more points scored.


Air Raid Remix

I don't profess to know how Kliff Kingsbury, an unsuccessful college coach, will perform in the NFL. What I am quite confident in saying is that Kingsbury's offense will score points.

Kingsbury is bringing his Air Raid offense to Arizona and, by all accounts, he is prepared to go all in on the passing game. The Cardinals drafted Christian Kirk last year, who is poised for a second-year breakout and spent two picks this year on WRs Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler. With David Johnson ready to be used properly, Murray has weapons at his disposal.

Murray threw for 4361 yards at Oklahoma last season and rushed for another 1001, scoring a total of 59 touchdowns. We know that rushing QBs are a cheat code in fantasy football. Last year, after returning from injury in Week 12, Josh Allen was the overall fantasy QB1 over the remainder of the season. During that same timeframe, Lamar Jackson was the QB6. Kyler Murray is a vastly superior player to either of those two guys. Both Allen and Jackson were bad passers. Murray completed 69% of his throws in college last season. Murray is accurate to all areas of the field, both short and deep. He has displayed an incredible ability to maneuver in the pocket and avoid pressure, which will mask the deficiencies of the Cardinals' weak offensive line.

I really can't envision a scenario where Murray isn't at least what Lamar Jackson was last year from a fantasy perspective, surviving weekly on his rushing ability. Murray is going to run. He is going to run a lot. Murray should rush for at least a touchdown's worth of yardage per game, probably more. Is it really that difficult to project Murray for 200 yards passing and 50 rushing yards per game as well as two touchdowns? That's 21 fantasy points per game. 21 ppg would have made him the overall QB4 last year and it doesn't seem that difficult to attain.

But what happens if the offense takes off and Murray just lights it up? He has a Patrick Mahomes-level ceiling. The sky is genuinely the limit for Murray. A 1,000-yard rushing season is not out of the question. Neither is a 40-touchdown passing season. I'm not suggesting that either of these things is likely, merely that they are plausible.


Bet on Upside

If you are taking a shot on a QB late, it should be Kyler Murray. He has overall QB1 upside and a safe, low-end QB1 floor. I think his floor is just as high, if not higher than most of the guys going around him and none of those guys have a top three ceiling. Murray does. You can easily stream a low-end QB1 every week. For a QB to matter in matchups, he needs to be elite. Murray has that in his range of outcomes and that fact may justify taking him a round or two earlier than you normally would take a QB on the chance that he could make much more of a difference than the WR or RB dart you would otherwise be throwing.

I am extremely bullish on Murray and believe he will finish as a top-six fantasy QB as a rookie leading a resurgent Cardinals offense. We can revisit his ADP in August, but, for now, you should be prepared to target Kyler Murray in redraft leagues.

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