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Kyler Murray Is About to Explode

Kyler Murray currently leads the league in passing attempts and has thrown for 657 yards. Unfortunately, he’s struggled to find the end zone through the air and has left fantasy owners disappointed with only 17 rushing yards. The rookie phenom sits at QB13 through two weeks. All that is about to change.

A Frantic Pace in Passing Attempts

In Kliff Kingsbury’s desert air raid, Murray has chucked the ball 94 times in his first two games. If we use the RotoViz Screener to pull the history from 2000 to 2019, we find that no other rookie QB has attempted that many passes in his first two starts. That holds true even if you remove his 10 overtime attempts against Detroit.

PLAYERSEASpaYDSpaATTSpaTDSpaEPpaFPOEPPRDRAFT
Cam Newton201185483342.24.565.81
Kyler Murray201965794246.6-3.844.551
Andrew Luck201253376333.5-0.935.651
Sam Darnold201853262326.75.932.63
Robert Griffin201252655325.510.860.72
Dak Prescott201651975037.3-11.433.75135
Chris Weinke200149963132.7-5.739.15106
Gardner Minshew201948858325.88.640.6178
Geno Smith201347073129.9-10.425.939
Carson Wentz201646871334.50.936.52
Marcus Mariota201546653625.32249.82
E.J. Manuel201344666331.62.737.916
Brandon Weeden201244072231.2-9.225.122
Mark Sanchez200943553223.8428.155
Sam Bradford201042080337.9-12.9251
Ryan Tannehill201241966131.1-12.125.958
Jameis Winston201541754331-2.238.951
Andy Dalton201141356330.81.932.9535
DeShone Kizer201740461126.4-10.226.552
Derek Carr201439874330.3-2.433.636
Matthew Stafford200935767131.7-19.818.551
Matt Ryan200832146121.3-5.216.853
Josh Allen201831948121.2-5.321.757
Ken Dorsey200431647021.1-7.313.8241
Russell Wilson201230454230.4-9.22675
Kyle Orton200529050119.8-3.316.5106
David Carr200223247219.5-5.9171
Kyle Boller200323060126.6-13.115.219
Deshaun Watson201722747120.5-7.127.6512
Andrew Walter200619032014.2-10.74.369
Ben Roethlisberger200417620210.32.512.811
Chris Simms200417532014.4-7.78.0597
Vince Young200613324112.5-3.911.053
Joe Flacco200812929011.3-4.816.1518
Byron Leftwich200392813.94.78.67
Jacoby Brissett2016929031.65.891
Chad Henne2008671208.4-53.3557
Eli Manning200466904-0.73.31
Jimmy Clausen2010571507.9-7.10.8548
Blaine Gabbert201152602.40.22.710
Joey Harrington2002521807.9-7.30.63
Doug Johnson200043705.3-3.22.15329
Quincy Carter2001341906.5-8.8-0.753
Brock Huard2000301103.5-21.977
Mike Vick200127604.4-3.112.851
Lamar Jackson201824401.8-0.65.732
Dan Orlovsky200520601.8-0.81145
Daniel Jones201917401.5-0.61.356
Bruce Gradkowski20064501.7-1.50.2194
Max Hall20103200.8-2.6-1.85329
Alex Smith20050100.3-0.30.31
Charlie Whitehurst2006000007.481
Johnny Manziel20140100.3-0.3022
Luke McCown20040100.1-0.10106
Michael Bishop2000000000.2227
Matt Flynn200800000-0.2209
Matt Gutierrez200700000-0.3329
Pat White20090100.3-0.3044
Rohan Davey200200000-0.4117
Tim Tebow2010000000.225

Murray comes in second behind Cam Newton in passing yards. (Newton threw for over 400 yards in each of his first two NFL starts, and has not done so again in his career.) It’s not a bad group. Andrew Luck, Sam Darnold, Robert Griffin, and Dak Prescott follow in the next four slots. Ten No. 1 overall picks dot the list.

Murray isn’t simply checking down either. Last week, I profiled Larry Fitzgerald and Jack Miller told you to grab Christian Kirk in the Buy Low Report. We each discussed the variety of targets those players received, including targets deep down the field.

Murray continued to attack deep against the Ravens. Although his passing air yards dropped from 570 in Week 1 to 312 in Week 2, he continued to have plenty of success down the field.

He has now completed seven of his 12 passes that have traveled more than 20 yards. Those passes have gained more than 270 yards. He’s also been successful underneath, completing 39 of 58. If he can boost his efficiency in the intermediate area, the Cardinals offense will really take off.

Murray already took a step forward in Week 2 with a big efficiency jump against one of the NFL’s top passing defenses.

Red Zone Woes

The Cardinals looked sharp against the Ravens in all facets except the ones that matter most: red zone execution and play-calling.

Red Zone Passing Attempts 2019 – Week 1-2

PLAYERAttemptsTDspaEPpaFPOEPPR
Joe Flacco18219.2-8.211.1
Case Keenum18318.2-3.314.9
Kyler Murray16118.2-7.410.6
Carson Wentz13211.90.218.6
Tom Brady12310.35.421.85
Jared Goff11211.8-1.416.5
Patrick Mahomes11112.3-6.95.6
Jacoby Brissett10510.312.122.9
Jameis Winston928.81.811
Dak Prescott939.54.714.45
Eli Manning928.61.29.75
Jimmy Garoppolo918.3-0.77.6
Philip Rivers9111.7-8.63.15
Aaron Rodgers837.37.915
Derek Carr828.2-0.28.25
Drew Brees826.11.27.3
Matt Ryan7310.2-0.110.1
Gardner Minshew726.23.610.75
Lamar Jackson739.53.512.9
Deshaun Watson626.73.116
Marcus Mariota636.86.713.5
Andy Dalton616-0.95.15
Cam Newton604.5-4.10.4
Russell Wilson433.310.513.8
Mason Rudolph425.23.48.6
Kirk Cousins403.2-5.24.1
Sam Darnold313.24.17.3
Josh Allen314.20.518.1
Matthew Stafford312.22.34.45
Luke Falk301.3-1.10.25
Baker Mayfield314.7-0.54.15
Ben Roethlisberger303.4-3.40.7
Mitchell Trubisky302.2-4.2-2
Ryan Fitzpatrick211.934.85
Teddy Bridgewater201.3-1.30
Robert Griffin111.32.84.75
Josh McCown100.9-0.90
Josh Rosen101.1-3.1-2
Matt Moore100.6-0.6-0.1
Taysom Hill00008.5

Through two weeks, only Joe Flacco and Case Keenum have attempted more red zone passes than Murray. Flacco is also the only QB to accumulate more negative fantasy points over expectation inside the 20. Murray hasn’t been much better, turning 16 attempts into only a single TD.

We can see that this trend continues if we look at attempts inside the 10. These are the league leaders in high-value passing attempts. Only Philip Rivers has underperformed his expected points (EP) by more.

It’s no embarrassment for the rookie to struggle against Baltimore’s elite pass defense, especially when he’s been asked to throw a variety of low-success fades. As Kingsbury improves his play-calling on the most important downs,1 expect Murray’s fantasy numbers to better reflect his overall volume.

The Rushing Numbers

Murray rushed for over 1,000 yards and scored 12 rushing TDs last season at Oklahoma. His tie in a training camp sprint with Andy Isabella added to the legend of Murray’s speed, and fantasy owners were promised a healthy dose of his legs in this offense. We haven’t seen that yet, but it’s certainly on the horizon.

Murray has unlocked Fitzgerald and Kirk, but the offense is yet to get much from David Johnson, or rookie WRs Isabella and KeeSean Johnson.2 Despite this, the Cardinals were very competitive on the road against a Baltimore team that should contend for the Super Bowl.

This is just the appetizer. The main course is coming.

Image Credit: Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Kyler Murray.

  1. On their lone TD, the Cardinals spread the field and David Johnson strolled in untouched up the middle.  (back)
  2. Johnson wasn’t as heavily targeted in Week 2 after turning 10 Week 1 targets into only 46 yards.  (back)

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