Kyler Murray Injury Profile: Is This Mobile QB Still Draftable in Fantasy Football?

Aug 08, 2023
Kyler Murray Fantasy Football Injury Profile

Last year, Kyler Murray’s offseason was quite theatrical. It started with a preseason spectacle that had more drama than a Shakespearean play, with contract extension battles and rumors of a "study film clause.” Most were left wondering if Murray’s time in Arizona was “to be or not to be.”

Unfortunately, fate had a cruel twist in store for Murray as his season ended in one of the worst ways imaginable—injury. Not just any injury either. Statistically, players struggle their first year back following ACL reconstruction (ACLR).

Heading into the 2023 season every fantasy analyst and their mother has likely told you Murray’s rushing should decline in 2023—a major issue since 30% of his fantasy points came from him running the ball. However, no one has quantified how much Murray’s rushing production should decline. This is where I focus my attention to help you decide if Murray is worth a shot during fantasy football drafts.

More Injury Analysis: Draft-Worthy Players With Injury Concerns

Running Wild

There has been a shift in fantasy football strategies over the last 2-3 seasons. Previously, we were taught to draft quarterbacks late—thank you, JJ Zachariason. However, with signal-callers such as Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson, amongst others, fantasy managers are drafting a select few in the early rounds because of the weekly upside they provide. Most of these high-upside throwers are able to net these spike weeks with large rushing attempts and explosive players running the ball. Quarterbacks like Kyler Murray. Since Murray entered the league, he has been top-10 at his position in points per game. Examining Murray’s fantasy production we can see a chuck of it was bolstered by his rushing.

Kyler Murray Fantasy Production Breakdown
Year Percent of Points from Passing Percent of Points from Rushing
2019 73% 27%
2020 63% 37%
2021 76% 24%
2022 70% 30%

Looking at the other 132 fantasy-relevant passers from 2019-2022 and comparing those percentages to other quarterbacks across the league, those percentages rank 11, 17, 19, and 27.

Murray's 2023 Projection

From a sports medicine and recovery aspect, Kyler Murray could be ready for Week 1 of the 2023 season, but sometimes you need to be fluid and adjust. All signs point to Murray not being ready for the start of the NFL season. Murray is currently on the PUP and if he remained on PUP at the start of the regular season he would be required to miss the first four games of the season. Factoring in historical comparisons and the injury rate of NFL quarterbacks, I currently project Murray to play 12 games.

I’ve discussed how a decent portion of Murray’s production has been buoyed by his rushing. Intuitively, anyone would tell you that after a major lower body injury a quarterback's rushing would decline, but by how much is key. A 10% reduction is negligible while a 50% dip would be catastrophic.

Examining predictors for quarterback rushing attempts and rushing efficiency weighted for signal-callers who sustained a major lower body injury I was able to design a linear regression model to predict Murray’s rushing stats in 2023. Based on this data, I project a 22% decrease compared to 2022. Compared to his career average: -32%. For context, if we use Murray's numbers from last season with a 22% decrease in rushing, he would move outside the top-10 at his position on a poitns per game basis to QB17.

This model projects Murray to rush for 270 yards on 64 attempts. Both would be career lows. A conservative projection but one that makes sense given the context.

Kyler Murray Rushing Projection by Games Played (red denotes my projection)
Games Played Rush Yards Rush TDs
16 340 4.5
12 270 4
10 236 3.5

Bottom Line

  • The major hindrance in Kyler Murray’s projection is his availability. All signs point to Murray starting on the PUP, meaning—at most—he could play 13 games in 2023.
  • Per 4for4’s Multi-Site ADP tool, Murray is being selected as the fantasy QB24 at 13.08 in 12-team leagues. The risk of missing the first quarter of the season is baked into his ADP. Even with the decreased rushing production Murray should average more points QB24.
  • Personally, I’m worried about Murray’s upside given the rushing projection but in theory, he could provide late-season value assuming those numbers are buoyed by a slow start. Typically, players coming off a major injury do experience a ramp-up period.
  • Understanding your league’s scoring settings is important but in traditional leagues where you only need to start one quarterback, it might be better to try and scoop up Murray off of the waiver wire. You could also stash him in leagues with deep benches. But it’s important to know that the spike weeks Murray provided lineups in the past might not be there this season.
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