They Went Where - Kyler Murray

They Went Where??: 18th – 24th July edition

They Went Where?? – 18th to 26th July

After a week away, the ‘They Went Where??’ series of articles returns. I take another sample of mock draft data, and look for trends appearing during the week. This week looks at several quick moving Quarterbacks, including last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year – Kyler Murray. 

THE DATA

You can read where I gathered my data from in the first article in this series. Many thanks to fantasyfootballcalculator.com for allowing their mock draft results to be accessible. 

The data for this article comes from 4,622 mock drafts, carried out between the 18th and 26th July 2020. This data is also restricted to a PPR format for a 12 team league. 

So, what were the findings for this sample?

RUNNING WITH MURRAY

Well…what a revelation. Many had doubts when The Cardinals took Kyler Murray as the first overall pick last season. Could he really make it in the big time?

But the skills that he was so sorely sought after for actually transferred across to the NFL without a huge degree of difficulty. And, just like that, Murray has now become one of the most sought after Quarterbacks in the league. For many samples, Kyler has been taken off the board as the QB3. His skill in the running game and breaking out of defences was something that caused many headaches for opposing players. And there are plenty of factors that can help fantasy drafters justify taking the 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year in that position.

A FALTERING JOHNSON

Straight from the off, Murray was involved in both aspects of the Cards offensive. One reason that could have led Murray to see so many looks in the first half of the season was David Johnson. The Running Back’s form in the first 6 weeks of the season only saw 2 games of over 50 yards, and only 2 touchdowns. Murray was used as an extra rushing option from the start and actually saw a rise in rushing attempts towards the end of that 6 week period – bagging himself 93 yards and a touchdown against a moribund Bengals defense. 

Apparently this was all that the Cards management needed to see. The organisation put in a trade offer to the Dolphins for Kenyan Drake. Drake’s consequent signing and inclusion in the lineup virtually spelled the end of Johnson’s involvement in the starting string. 

TAKING ON THE DRAKE

Drake was going through a funk himself at the Dolphins, who were massively struggling. The Miami back was averaging 29 yards a game, and only 3.6 yards per carry. No touchdowns scored. Two fumbles. So it must have been fantastic news when the trade offer came in.

Drake’s first game for his new team nearly created as much impact than Johnson did in the first half of the season. His Cards stats ended up with 5 games over 50 yards, and 3 games in triple figures – including 110 yards against San Francisco in his first game. He rushed in four touchdowns against the Browns on the way to a monstrous 137 yard game. 

After a lot of uncertainty about their rushing game in the first half of the year, it must have been a relief to see such production after these events. 

But where did that leave Murray’s running game? 

KYLER MURRAY’S RUNNING STARTS BEFORE AND AFTER KENYAN DRAKE’S ARRIVAL
GP Attempts Yards Yds/Att TDs
Before 8 51 279 5.3 2
After 8 42 265 6.1 2

They remained intact, and Murray’s yards per attempt actually increased in the second half of the season. This demonstrates that Drake’s inclusion in the side didn’t affect Murray’s contribution – and also shows just how little Johnson was contributing to the rushing game. 

As it stands, if Drake stays healthy, there is nothing to stop his form continuing into 2020, and Murray will be able to reap the benefits of having an effective Running Back behind or alongside him. 

THE D-HOPTION

Johnson’s eventual trade to the Texans have opened up some more offensive possibilities for Kyler this season. Aside from the trades that went back and forth, the out-of-form Running Back headed to Houston – and Arizona got DeAndre Hopkins in return. This presents a huge target to go alongside Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald – adding some further bite to the passing game. But the question will be whether Murray’s style will allow Hopkins to take a share of the targets and there still be enough to go around. After all, if the Quarterback is rushing, he isn’t throwing!

While Murray can be associated with players like Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson for their rushing styles –  he does throw the ball! Arizona saw 527 target attempts last season. This was 18th in the NFL – nearly middle of the pack. Jackson’s Ravens came last with 424 targets, and Allen’s Bills were 25th with 484. 

And departing players have created room for Hopkins to get his fill. Some players who have left include Damiere Byrd (46 targets), Pharoah Cooper (33 targets) and Michael Crabtree (5 targets). The target options on the team will be fewer, so that should mean a higher share for everyone – and DeAndre Hopkins is undoubtedly an upgrade from those players.

Put the two factors together and you can see why Murray is drafting so high on boards. He was averaging an ADP of 3.01 in the subsections of the week’s sample and was more or less the QB3 for the whole time. 

WILSON’S NO WASH OUT

Another player who was challenging Murray for that QB3 spot this week was Russell Wilson. The Seahawks Quarterback will be in the same position as Murray this year – having an wide variety of targets available to pass to. Tight End Will Dissly was a surprising breakout (before his injury) and now presents as part of a decent position group. Greg Olsen joins from the Panthers. Jacob Hollister saw a portion of action last year after Dissly’s injury in Week 6. In addition, Lockett and Metcalf will be a formidable pair and Chris Carson had begun to pique fantasy appeal with his increase in pass-catching through the season.

But another potential reason that Wilson offers further appeal is the number of rushes he made in 2019. The Quarterback made 75 rushing attempts over the course of the season, picking up 346 yards and 3 touchdowns. That was fifth in the NFL, behind Jackson, Allen, Murray and DeShaun Watson. 

SCHOTT’S HIRED

However, since 2018, Wilson’s rushing game has taken a major downturn. His last two seasons have been amongst his bottom 3 years for rushing attempts. And yet his throwing numbers did not show a visual surge in attempts. 

On major factor in this could be due to a staffing change before the 2018 season. In January, the Seahawks hired a new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. The new OC joined from the Colts, where he has been Quarterbacks coach. However, he had experience in his hired position from stints at the Rams and the Jets. 

And although his last job was working with the gunslingers, his play style suggested that he wanted the Quarterbacks to throw – but not run. Throughout his previous 9 years at NFL teams, Schottenheimer’s Quarterbacks ran an average of 7.9% of the rushing attempts in a season. If Wilson had seen this percentage last season, he would have rushed only 38 times – nearly half of what he actually recorded.

Thankfully, Seattle’s run game has included the Quarterback more than that. And this could be due to Pete Carroll‘s influence as Head Coach. Before Schottenheimer’s arrival in 2018, Carroll had already spent 7 years with the Seahawks.  

RUSHING PERCENTAGES FOR SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 2010 – 2017
Years Total att.  QB Rush QB Rush % RB Rush RB Rush %
Carroll 2010 / 2011  829  83 10.1% 724 87.3%
Carroll / Wilson 2012- 2017 2,883 603 20.1% 2,216 76.8%
Schottenheimer as OC 2018 / 2019 1,015 142 13.9% 844 83.1%

Russell Wilson joined the Seahawks for the 2012 season. His arrival caused a rise of Quarterbacks rushing attempts by an average of 10 percent between 2012 and 2017. It was the perfect use of his skills as a scrambler. In that time period, Wilson was responsible for 96% of the QB rushes. A particular high point in 2014 saw him pick up 849 yards and 6 touchdowns, which would have been a huge boost for fantasy stats. 

However, Brian Schottenheimer’s arrival signalled a move away from using Wilson as extensively in the rushing game. Carries were transferred back to the Running Back – something that was symbolic of the new OC’s playing style. Over the years, Schottenheimer’s rushing percentages saw the majority go to his teams’ Running Backs. They got an average of 87.24% of carries in a season, compared to the previously mentioned 7.9% for Quarterbacks. 

So, while there looks to be some compromise based on Wilson seeing 13.9% of rushes in the last two years, it has not reached the figures we saw before Schottenheimer’s tenure. 

STILL UP THERE

The good news is that Wilson should still feature in the rushing game as much as last year. This is still more than most Quarterbacks! It is unlikely to get above that of Jackson, Allen and Murray, but it will still be there. However, the addition of Carlost Hyde will affect any hope of seeing more carries while Rashaad Penny remains on the PUP list. 

In this sample, his ADP has been bouncing around the end of the 5th round in PPR leagues. As was said before, he has been averaging above Murray in some sections of the data. But you may need to temper your expectations if you were hoping to see Wilson add to his carries this year.

Join me next time for another look at mock draft values!

Until then, 

Keep Rushing!

Rob @CowsillRob 

 

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