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Why Demarco Murray is the Top RB Play This Week

When looking over the high priced RBs this week on either FanDuel or DraftKings, 3 names will surely jump out at you. Marshawn Lynch has a nice matchup at home vs Carolina, and is fairly priced. C.J. Anderson’s Denver Broncos have been very focused on the run, and they face a soft Colts run D in the high altitude of Denver. And then there’s Demarco Murray. Murray has been arguably the best fantasy RB in the league this season and should be almost fully recovered from his hand surgery from a few weeks ago. But, unlike Anderson and Lynch, the matchup with Green Bay appears mediocre at best. Green Bay is 13th in fantasy points allowed to RBs, slightly above average. The Cowboys are also 6 point underdogs, which doesn’t bode well for a conservative game plan. But the Packers matchup is much better than it looks at first glance. Much, much better.

If you’ve read our digest at DFW, you know that run play percentage is highly correlated to scoring margin. The Packers, one of the top teams in the league, are unsurprisingly 3rd in the league in scoring margin, which means teams will give up on the run early in the game against them. But the Cowboys are one of the most run heavy teams in the NFL, so I believe that, even if they get down a few scores, they are  unlikely to completely abandon the run like some other teams.

In our sportsbook projections, we calculate the scoring margin independent run/pass inclinations of opposing offenses for each team in the league using regression.  In that metric, Green Bay leads the league in that statistic. In layman’s terms, with every other factor neutral, Green Bay has the worst run defense in the NFL. If they had Ryan Lindley at QB instead of Aaron Rodgers, we’d have a Run D in Green Bay that daily fantasy players would be targeting constantly through the year.

This is despite a schedule which includes a plethora of pass first teams. Another statistic we calculate looks at scoring margin independent run/pass inclinations of a teams offense. We call that statistic True Rush Rank. The NFC North was the most pass heavy division in the league (according to that statistic) with nearly 3% more pass attempts than average. 5.5% higher than the most run inclined division, the NFC West, that runs the ball nearly 2.5% higher than average.

On top of this, out of the Top 10 most pass inclined teams in the NFL, 8 were opponents of Green Bay this season, and 2 of those 8 were Detroit (3rd) and Chicago (8th). Their schedule also included the most pass heavy divisions in football, The NFC North and South, and the AFC East. Despite all of this, Green Bay still managed to be 23rd in the league in rushing yards allowed and 22nd in yards per rush attempt.

What I’m saying (in a long winded and exhaustive fashion) is that your first inclination is probably to play Lynch or C.J. Anderson over Murray. I think Murray will likely be the least used out of the 3 top priced RBs, maybe 4th behind Eddie Lacy, especially considering his mediocre game against the Lions last week (The best Run D in the league, by the way). But Green Bay’s run D is much worse than it appears, so I recommend being a little contrarian here and making Murray your first priority. It will pay off in a big way, I promise.

View all posts by Daniel Steinberg
Daniel Steinberg

About the Author

Daniel Steinberg Daniel Steinberg is a former bond trader at a multi-billion dollar proprietary trading firm in Chicago. He uses his knowledge of statistics and his creativity from his career as a poker professional to create the most advanced Daily Fantasy statistical analysis that you will find anywhere. Follow him on twitter @DanielSingerS

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