Is Kyler Murray a Draft Value With a New Wingman in Arizona?

Jul 02, 2024
Is Kyler Murray a Draft Value With a New Wingman in Arizona?

Kyler Murray’s career has been a polarizing one. On the one hand, he’s missed 18 games over the past three seasons, has a .438 win percentage, and has never reached 4,000 passing yards or 30 passing touchdowns in a season. On the other hand, he won Offensive Rookie of the Year, earned consecutive Pro Bowl selections, and has never finished outside QB12 in fantasy points per game. Now, with the influx of young offensive talent in Arizona — specifically fourth overall pick Marvin Harrison Jr. — it might be time to buy back in on the Cardinals quarterback for 2024.

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A New Wingman

With DeAndre Hopkins leaving for Tennessee last season, Murray was left with tight end Trey McBride as his top target and Greg Dortch as his top wideout down the stretch in 2023. His 18.3 fantasy points per game ended up being just enough to crack QB10 in a largely disappointing season. The year prior, Murray played just four games with Hopkins (as both dealt with injuries) and had to rely on Hollywood Brown for the majority of the games he played.

Through the course of his five seasons, Murray has played a total of 28 games with Hopkins and a total of 35 games without him (excluding games either played fewer than half the snaps). In seven fewer games with Hopkins in the lineup, he has scored 49 more fantasy points, averaging a monster 24.2 PPG in those contests (and just 18.0 without him).

Kyler Murray With & Without DeAndre Hopkins
With Hopkins* Without Hopkins* Diff w/ Hopkins
Total YPG 304.7 270.3 +34.4
Total TD/Game 2.5 1.4 +1.1
Comp Pct 68.8 64.9 +3.9%
Passer Rating 99.4 86.5 +12.9
Fantasy PPG 24.2 18.0 +6.2

*Excludes games either player played fewer than 50% of snaps

While the improved passing stats are unsurprising, it’s also worth noting that Murray’s rushing numbers were far better with his All-Pro wideout in the lineup. In those 28 games with Hopkins, he averaged an additional 10 yards per game on the ground and scored 17 rushing TDs — nearly double the nine he scored in the other 35 games. Clearly, the presence of a true weapon on the outside changes the entire landscape of the Arizona offense and Murray’s potential as a fantasy star.

Enter Marvin Harrison Jr.

Touted as one of if not the single best wide receiver prospect of the last decade, Harrison was a slam dunk pick for Arizona at the top of the 2024 draft. When the selection was announced, NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah had this to say about the impact on the Cardinals:

“This is a big time, big time playmaker. They need blue-chip difference makers on this roster … and Kyler Murray is grinning from ear to ear. He has a number one wide receiver. And not two years from now, three years from now. This is a number one wide receiver this year, he’s gonna be ready to roll right when he gets on the field.”

After signing Murray to a 5-year, $230.5 million contract back in 2022, just weeks after releasing Hopkins, Arizona has been in desperate need of offensive firepower. Now they have it. Harrison comes with such high expectations that he’s already being drafted as the WR9 and slotted at the same spot in our 4for4 rankings. Plus, Arizona also added free agent WR Zay Jones and rookie RB Trey Benson this offseason, on top of late-2023 breakout Trey McBride and promising second-year receiver Michael Wilson.

In his breakdown of Harrison’s impact right after the draft, Justin Edwards concluded that “Murray is back on the radar as a strong weekly QB1 option, and there’s an argument to be made that he should be inched toward the top-7 range.” In my book, he’s already there.

Dual-Threat Upside

There are few more locked-and-loaded cheat codes in fantasy football than elite dual-threat quarterbacks. The top 10 QB fantasy seasons of the last five years (including Kyler Murray’s 2020) have featured an average of 600 rushing yards and nearly eight rushing touchdowns. Over that same span, QBs to top 600 yards and six touchdowns rushing averaged more fantasy points per season (356) than QBs to hit 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns passing (345). In 2023, QB1 Josh Allen and QB2 Jalen Hurts each posted 500+ rushing yards and 15 rushing scores.

The question for Murray is whether he can hit those milestones again in 2024. Taking his finish to 2023 as a baseline, he was on pace for a full season of 518 yards and six scores on the ground. That’s a pretty solid line, especially considering his lack of a true threat at wide receiver and the fact that those numbers came immediately off his recovery from a torn ACL. The last time we saw a fully healthy season from the Cards QB (in 2020), he put up 819 yards and a position-leading 11 touchdowns with his legs.

But the real key for Murray is his combo upside. In that QB3 overall 2020 season, Murray also threw for 3,971 yards and 26 touchdowns. It remains the most passing yards in NFL history by a player with 800+ rushing yards and only 2015 MVP Cam Newton (35) and 2023 Josh Allen (29) have ever posted more passing touchdowns while also logging double-digit rushing scores. And considering that behind Hopkins the 2020 Cardinals were fielding a non-factor Larry Fitzgerald in his final season and Dan Arnold at tight end … it’s not a stretch to say the 2024 depth chart is the best Murray has ever had.

Outside of Allen and Lamar Jackson, nobody has as much upside both through the air and on the ground as Kyler Murray. All it will take is a functional receiving corps and a healthy season, and the former first-overall pick could be back into the top tier at the position for fantasy.

Why Kyler Murray?

As of early July, Murray’s aggregate ADP is QB9, between Dak Prescott and Jordan Love, somewhere near the sixth-seventh round turn. Considering he was the QB10 in PPG last season after coming back from a torn ACL to a wide receiver room led by Greg Dortch and Rondale Moore … QB9 feels pretty close to his floor. Even more importantly, Murray is going a full round after QB7 Joe Burrow and nearly two rounds after QB6 Anthony Richardson — neither of whom was the picture of health last season.

Outside of Jordan Love — who’s going roughly five picks later — Murray is the least expensive quarterback with legitimate top-tier upside. And thanks to his rushing floor, he also has built-in consistency that value picks like Tua Tagovailoa or Jared Goff likely do not.

The Bottom Line

  • With the arrival of Marvin Harrison Jr. in Arizona, Kyler Murray has another shot at a full season with a true number-one wideout … and arguably the best overall receiving group he’s ever had.
  • Murray’s per game output with DeAndre Hopkins on the field (24.2 fantasy PPG) was legitimately the best in fantasy football — if Harrison can help him replicate even 80% of that production, he’ll be a draft value at quarterback.
  • Few QBs in the league — perhaps only Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson — have Murray’s combined upside in both the passing and rushing game.
  • With a draft price of QB9 — barely higher than his QB10 points per game result coming off an ACL injury last year — Murray is one of few quarterbacks outside the first four rounds that could legitimately finish atop the position in 2024.
  • If you pass up on the Elite Four in drafts (Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson), target Murray aggressively in the middle rounds.
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