Latavius Murray will only get a shot to carry the ball as much as he did last season if Dalvin Cook misses significant playing time. There's always a chance of that happening, but odds are Murray will be relegated to a complementary role in the Vikings offense. His physical rushing style might give him a shot at some goal-line carries, but he's not going to be someone you'll draft with high hopes. Rather, he's the handcuff for Cook and won't get chased by many Fantasy owners. Put him on your late-round radar if you spent a top-35 pick on Cook
Murray had six carries for 12 yards and fumbled twice (losing one) in Saturday's preseason loss to Jacksonville. After an explosive performance in the first preseaon game (four carries for 48 yards), Murray struggled Saturday against a better defense. His fumbles likely are not a worry since he's never had a history of turnovers. His playing time early in the season will likely depend on whether the Vikings want to ease Dalvin Cook back into action after returning from an ACL injury.
Murray is hoping to push Dalvin Cook (knee) for a starting job, Chris Tomasson of The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. "We're here to compete against each other and that's what I'm going to do,'' Murray said. "I'm going to leave it up to the coaches to make that decision who plays or whatever but we both want to compete and make each other better and help this team win.'' It's no surprise Murray doesn't want to hand over the starting job, though he'll probably end up doing just that if Cook looks anything like he did last season. The second-year back was held out of the preseason opener despite participating in contact work at practice the past two weeks, but he's expected to make an in-game appearance at some point before the regular season. Murray took advantage of the opportunity with four carries for 48 yards on the Vikings' opening drive in Saturday's win over the Broncos. He should play a significant part in the offense even after Cook returns, with Murray's role potentially including some work at the goal line and/or on passing downs.
Murray rushed four times for 48 yards during Saturday's preseason opener against the Broncos. Murray ripped off back-to-back 20-plus yard rushes on the opening drive and was the primary reason the Vikings were able to cruise down the field for a touchdown on the first-string offense's lone drive of the game. While the running back is nonetheless looking at a demotion in the near future when Dalvin Cook (knee) is ready to play, Murray will likely maintain a significant role in the Vikings offense and could still hold fantasy relevance in preseason contests while Cook works his way back into action.
Murray restructured his contract with the Vikings, Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Most of the contract restructures at this time of year merely convert base salaries into signing bonuses, pushing the cap hit into future seasons to free up room for the current year. Murray may actually have taken some form of pay cut, as his $5.1 million non-guaranteed base salary for 2018 feels a bit pricey for a guy who averaged 3.9 yards on 216 carries and 6.9 yards on 15 receptions last season. The Vikings do have a need for his services, given that Jerick McKinnon is signing with San Francisco while Dalvin Cook recovers from a torn ACL. Murray's likely role entering the season will depend on Cook's progression in the rehab process.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman suggested Wednesday that Murray isn't guaranteed to return to the team in 2018, Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. "We've discussed a lot of things," Spielman said when asked if the Vikings were set with Dalvin Cook (knee) and Murray as the team's primary running backs next season. "We're very excited, Dalvin continues to rehab. We're very excited about the progress he's making and anxious to see what we are with him in the fold along with whatever combination is there." Though Spielman didn't say explicitly that Murray wouldn't be retained, it's clear the Vikings are still weighing whether the 28-year-old is worth bringing back at a cap hit of $6.35 million for 2018, which would make him one of the higher-paid running backs in the league. While Murray gave the Vikings quality production upon stepping in as the primary back once Cook suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Week 4, finishing with a team-high 842 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, it may be difficult for the team to justify keeping Murray at that price when he would likely be limited to a complementary role behind a healthy Cook in 2018. Assuming Murray is amenable to it, the Vikings may explore approaching his representatives about restructuring his contract so he could remain with the team at a more affordable price. If Murray isn't willing to renegotiate, however, the Vikings could cut him with little repercussions before March 16, when his $5.15 million base salary for 2018 becomes guaranteed.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/09||San Francisco 49ers||19||17.75|
|2||09/16||@Green Bay Packers||16||17.38|
|4||09/28||@Los Angeles Rams||27||19.00|
|7||10/21||@New York Jets||24||18.50|
|8||10/29||New Orleans Saints||12||17.22|
|12||11/26||Green Bay Packers||16||17.38|
|13||12/02||@New England Patriots||17||17.47|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||226||899||9||30||200||0||161|