- The New Orleans Saints have signed free agent running back Latavius Murray
- Can Murray return to his pre-2018 yardage numbers?
- Will he continue on his torrid touchdown scoring pace?
The New Orleans Saints’ backfield will look a little different in 2019 with the signing of RB Latavius Murray. The ex-Vikings’ back agreed to a four-year, $14.4 million contract with the Saints, thereby ending the Mark Ingram era in New Orleans.
Murray finished with 578 rushing yards and six touchdowns in 2018 for the Vikings. Bookmakers have already set totals on his 2019 potential with the Saints. Let’s take a closer look to see where the value lies.
Latavius Murray Projected 2019 Rushing Yards
|Projected 2019 Total Rushing Yards||Over Odds at BetOnline||Under Odds at Betonline|
*Odds taken 03/13/19
After his rookie year in 2014, Murray began to make a name for himself in the league during the 2015 season with Oakland. He broke the 1,000 yard rushing mark with 1,066 and scored six rushing touchdowns.
While the touchdown totals have remained consistent, his yardage has declined since that season to 788, 842, and 578 in each of the following seasons.
Saints new running back Latavius Murray’s contract details https://t.co/Ffc3ZC8eki
— Raymond Reeves (@RaymondEReeves) March 13, 2019
However, you must consider he was the lead back in Oakland for that 2015 season with the next closest rusher on the team being QB Derek Carr. The following year Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington ate into his carries.
Latavius Murray Stats Over Last 3 Seasons
|Year||Games||Att||Rushing Yards||YPG||Total TD’s|
As a member of the Vikings in 2017 he split time with Jerick McKinnon with Dalvin Cook injured. Last season he was a backup to Cook, though saw some extra touches while Cook was injured once again.
From Weeks 5-9 when Murray was the starting back, he recorded double-digit carries each week and averaged 70.6 YPG.
From Weeks 5-9 when Murray was the starting back, he recorded double-digit carries each week and averaged 70.6 YPG. Once Cook returned, Murray only hit double-digit carries twice in seven games and averaged 23 YPG.
Latavius Murray Projected 2019 Total Touchdowns
|Projected 2019 Total TDs||Over Odds at BetOnline||Under Odds at Betonline|
It’s important to note this prop includes both rushing and receiving touchdowns.
But while that’s important to know from the bet perspective, it may not be when actually handicapping Murray’s 2019 total touchdowns. Over the course of his five-year career, Murray has seen limited use in the passing game. In fact, he’s never recorded a receiving touchdown thus far.
Kamara the clear RB1 in NO, but there will be value in Latavius Murray: He is 1 of just 3 RBs to score at least 6 rushing TDs in each of the past 4 seasons (Ingram, Gurley). Saints have been 1st in rushing TD's each of the last two years & top 10 in red zone rush percentage.
— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) March 12, 2019
Last year he caught 22 passes for a total of 141 yards. That was only a slight improvement from 2017 when he caught 15 passes for 103 yards.
However, from a rushing standpoint, Murray has been extremely consistent in finding the end zone.
Since 2016, Murray ranks 10th overall with 26 touchdowns scored.
Even while mostly splitting time in the backfield during his career, the past four seasons he’s recorded six, eight, 12, and six rushing touchdowns. Since 2016, Murray ranks 10th overall with 26 touchdowns scored.
Latavius Murray Best Bets
The assumption has to be that Sean Payton and the Saints will likely try to use Murray in a similar fashion to that of Mark Ingram, who has now departed for Baltimore.
Murray will definitely be the backup once again in New Orleans with Alvin Kamara, the 2018 Sports Illustrated Breakout Athlete of the Year winner already in town. Despite missing four games due to suspension last year, Ingram still managed 645 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.
Like Murray, he saw limited use in the passing game with only 21 receptions, yet he did find the end zone once. In 2017, Kamara’s rookie year, Ingram rushed for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns. And while he didn’t catch any passes for a TD, he did record 58 total receptions.
Murray should have every chance to succeed in a dynamic Saints’ offense. He’s proven durable having only missed three regular season games in his career, and I’ll bet Murray continues at his scoring rate and goes over six touchdowns.
Alvin Kamara's game highs were something else last year pic.twitter.com/HhdLBr22D4
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) March 5, 2019
For yardage, let’s do a little math on the projected 725.5 total. If you compare the 11.5 attempts per game of Ingram in 2018, to the 8.8 attempts per game of Murray, that’s 2.7 more attempts Murray could have this year if used similarly. At his 4.1 YPG average of 2018, that could be another 11 YPG, equating to 177 more on the year, which would’ve given him 755. That’s over, but not by much.
Kamara’s usage should keep increasing and Murray likely can’t immediately do what Ingram had done in New Orleans for years, so I’ll bet the under.
Best Bets: Under 725.5 rushing yards and Over 6 touchdowns