The Lede: Latavius Murray to the Preseason PUP

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Menzies

Don’t have time to read through 1,000 words, but need some informed betting tips? Here’s a quick rundown on today’s biggest sports story (as adjudged by me) and how it impacts the way you should bet.

Vikings Place Latavius Murray on Preseason PUP

The Minnesota Vikings signed free-agent running back Latavius Murray to help replace the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, Adrian Peterson. Murray earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2015 with the Raiders, after rushing for 1,066 yards and six touchdowns;  he followed that with 788 rushing yards and 12 TDs in 2016. The 27-year-old underwent surgery to address bone spurs in his ankle shortly after signing with the Vikings, but was believed to be ready for the start of training camp. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, as Murray has been placed on the preseason Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. His injury will impact both the Vikings’ 2017 outlook and the fantasy RB situation, but how much?

Minnesota used its second-round pick in the NFL Draft on Florida State standout Dalvin Cook. Murray and Cook were expected to battle it out in camp for the right to be called the “lead back.” But with the former now set to miss some of the early days of camp, Cook should jump out to an early lead.

The good news for Murray is that it’s just the preseason PUP, for now. Unlike the regular-season PUP, players can be removed from the preseason PUP at any time. But Murray’s burst was already in question after averaging a mediocre 4.0 yards per carry in each of the last two seasons despite running behind one of the top offensive lines in the league. And if there’s one thing Minnesota’s offense is desperate for, it’s some explosiveness.

If Cook wasn’t already coming off your fantasy big board before Murray, he certainly should be now, though RB 24 (his current status in pre-season mock drafts) is a bit of a reach since the Vikings’ offensive line doesn’t inspire confidence.

As for Murray, if he misses more than a couple days of training camp, he will become nothing more than a touchdown-dependent RB3.

The Vikings, as a whole, might not notice Murray’s absence all that much. The team possessed the worst rushing attack in the league last year (3.2 YPC). Outside of a few goal-line plunges, Murray was not going to bring balance back to the offense. In fact, the more touches Cook gets, the better off the Vikings will be.

I’m not suggesting you suddenly jump on the Vikings’ over/under because Murray is out of the lineup; it’s not a landscape-altering addition-by-subtraction. But if you were backing the Vikings before Murray’s injury, it shouldn’t scare you off.