Murray Titans


By Bryan Sweet, DFW Senior Writer and Co-Owner, @FantasyFreakDFW



DeMarco Murray was the definition of a workhorse back in college at Oklahoma, racking up 916 offensive touches and converting those touches into 5,256 yards and 63 TDs.  The Dallas Cowboys selected Murray in the third round (#71 overall) as concerns about the large number of touches in college caused his slide down draft boards.  Murray made his presence known in week six of his rookie season as he rushed for the ninth-most yards in a game in NFL history with 253 yards against the St. Louis Rams.  Murray remained the team’s lead back until a fractured ankle ended his season in week 13.  Murray’s next two seasons were a hodgepodge of good games, bad games and injuries.  Then, 2014 happened.  Murray lead the league in a myriad of categories, including: Rushing attempts (392), rushing yards (1,845), rushing TDs (13), all-purpose yards (2,216) and total touches (449) en route to being the #1 fantasy football player in nearly every league format.  Becoming a highly-sought free agent following his breakout season, Murray eventually signed with the Philadelphia Eagles on a five-year deal.  A disappointing 2015 and the departure of Chip Kelly put in motion a deal with the Tennessee Titans.  The Titans and Eagles swapped fourth-round picks, but the biggest trading chip was the Titans taking on Murray’s hefty contract.  Murray agreed to restructure his deal, and now the contract is for four years and is valued at $25 million with $12.5 million guaranteed.




Murray’s arrival in Tennessee fills a huge hole the Titans have been looking to address since Chris Johnson left via free agency following the 2013 season.  At the time of the trade (March), Murray was primed to be a workhorse back and take some pressure off second-year QB Marcus Mariota.  However, an increased workload is only one factor that leads to fantasy success, and the offensive line of the Titans was among the league worst in 2015.  Had things remained status quo from 2015, with Murray being the only difference, Murray probably would be ranked as a low-end RB2 due to the issues along the O-line and the lack of receiving options designed to keep defenses honest.  The Titans looked to upgrade the line with the first-round selection of Jack Conklin, but surprised many with their second-round selection of Alabama RB Derrick Henry.  Henry immediately becomes the second-best RB on the team, but might generate a controversy that plagues the team throughout the season.  Murray still has the inside track to be the #1 RB in Tennessee, but his upside seems capped with the presence of Henry.  Murray should finish the season as a mid-RB2 and is a viable target in the third or fourth round of drafts.


Murray should provide the Titans with some much needed stability at the RB position, something the team has lacked since the end of 2013.  Murray and Henry will compromise the team’s “exotic smashmouth” offense HC Mike Mularkey is looking to employ in 2016.  The presence of a viable running game should bolster Marcus Mariota’s confidence and give opposing defenses a reason to respect the running game.  If the Titans can get some viable production from some combination of Dorial Green-Beckham, Kendall Wright, Harry Douglas, Rishard Matthews and Justin Hunter, the offense could surprise in 2016.  Delanie Walker also should benefit from the arrival of Murray as he won’t be asked to stay in and block as often and should find the middle of the field more open as opposing LBs will have to keep tabs on the backfield.


Eagles’ ownership was looking to rid the team of all vestiges of Chip Kelly’s reign moving Kiko Alonso, Byron Maxwell and Murray the first day trades could be consummated by NFL teams.  Philadelphia will fill the void left by Murray with two holdovers from 2015 in Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles and fifth-round addition Wendell Smallwood out of West Virginia.  Mathews has had issues with durability throughout his NFL career and Sproles is best served as a change-of-pace RB and pass catching specialist.  Mathews will get the first shot at starting duties, but don’t be surprised if Smallwood sees action as starter later in the season.  The QB situation is far from settled as the team selected Carson Wentz with the second overall pick as the team’s QB of the future (near future?) and retained incumbent Sam Bradford as the bridge to the future.  More questions abound at WR behind Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor, but TE Zach Ertz should remain a top option in the team’s passing attack.