It is sort of weird that the Fantasy Madman is conservative in our embracing of new or returning players. Rather than the wild, whiplash reaction you would expect from someone who is mad, we’re more dull, even slow, in our approach to shifting landscapes.
We want the new fantasy options to prove themselves repeatedly before we start them ahead of original favorites. It also takes a lot of failure to lead us to sever ties with those we liked at the start of the season. Rather than deliriously chasing the latest trend or having a panic response to disappointments, we react calmly and deliberately. Well, at least deliberately, if not calmly.
Yet it takes much less for a player returning from injury to convince us he should be back in our lineups. We’re much more frenetic in our response. Once the formerly injured player looks like his former self, we’re ready to return him to his previous status in our fantasy hierarchy.
That is what Kyler Murray showed last week despite a ho-hum fantasy game in which he was the 12th-best Week 10 quarterback. He looked like the top-shelf Kyler Murray we recognize.
The biggest complaint about Murray has been his late-season swoons. But we contend it isn’t really about the first half or second half. What matters is the attrition put on his body over the course of multiple games.
For this season, he starts his “first half” in Week 10. In the past two years, Murray has missed nine total games. Every one of those nine has come in the second half of seasons — after Murray played the first eight games.
Counting last week, he gets just eight games total this season. That is great news, since the fantasy season will end before his annual swoon should begin. So let’s look at how he has done in the first eight games he has played each season.
His rookie year in 2019 is the only one in which has scored fewer in the first half — 18.3 early, 18.7 late. In every other season, he scored at least 50 total points more in his first eight games than anything after — including 115.8 more in the first eight last season.
If you take his average fantasy production across the first eight games each season for his career, he is averaging 23 fantasy points per game. For comparison, the leading quarterback this season is Jalen Hurts at 22.8.
Reminder: We are one game into his first eight this season. And Murray, who returned alongside running back James Conner, still has top WR target Marquise Brown and also recent breakout tight end Trey McBride.
In what could be a shootout vs. the Texans, in a season of injured or disappointing QBs, the list of preferred options this week is short: Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, C.J. Stroud, Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa. If your internal debate involves any other names, stop debating. The answer is Kyler Murray.
And we expect he will continue to be a frequent answer in the weeks to come.
Brock Purdy QB, 49ers, vs. Buccaneers (FanDuel $7,500/DraftKings $5,800)
Against a Buccaneers team that is roughly as bad against the pass as it is good vs. the run, this should be a Purdy-good game instead of a Purdy-bad one.
Rico Dowdle RB, Cowboys, at Panthers (FD $5,000/DK $4,600)
No, we’re not assuming he overtakes Tony Pollard, who should enjoy a get-right game. But if Carolina gets boat-raced, as expected, there should be ample mop-up work for Dowdle in addition to his normal share.
Raheem Mostert RB, Dolphins, vs. Raiders (FD $7,800/DK $6,900)
Don’t worry about the return of De’Von Achane. Instead, recall: two of Mostert’s three best games this season came when sharing carries with Achane.
Javonte Williams RB, Broncos, vs. Vikings (FD $6,600/DK $5,500)
This isn’t about matchup, which isn’t great. Williams has been ramping up in recent games after Denver removed the governor on his workload. He was RB5 and RB9 without great efficiency in his past two.
Justin Fields QB, Bears, at Lions (FD $7,400/DK $6,900)
He was erratic this season before his thumb injury. Did we mention that thumb is on his throwing hand? Cool the jets on Fields and top target DJ Moore until we see how Fields performs.
Rachaad White RB, Buccaneers, at 49ers (FD $6,600/DK $6,000)
He has seen a surge the past two weeks. But consider us sufficiently fearful of the 49ers after what we saw last week. Even with a bigger role recently in the passing game, not keen on using him this week.
Isiah Pacheco RB, Chiefs, vs. Eagles (FD $6,100/DK $6,300)
The Eagles have allowed zero 100-yard rushers, are in the top four in fewest yards per carry and have given up just two rushing TDs to RBs this season.
Amari Cooper WR, Browns, vs. Steelers (FD $7,300/DK $6,200)
Sure, it is a great matchup, but Cooper has been abysmal with any QB other than Deshaun Watson this season (17.6 per game in PPR with, 9.1 without).
Drew Loftis and Jarad Wilk submit dueling rosters into a DFS contest:
Slate: Sun. main (11 games)
Type: $3 tourney
Top prize: $100K
QB: Kyler Murray — Ari (at Hou) $6,100
RB: Rico Dowdle — Dal (at Car) $4,600
RB: Devin Singletary — Hou (vs. Ari) $5,300
WR: Marquise Brown — Ari (at Hou) $5,300
WR: Tank Dell — Hou (vs. Ari) $5,900
WR: Terry McLaurin — Was (vs. NYG) $5,800
TE: Trey McBride — Ari (at Hou) $4,400
Flex: Christian McCaffrey — SF (vs. TB) $9,300
DST: Jets — NYJ (at Buf) $2,600
QB: Brock Purdy, SF (vs. TB) $5,800
RB: Brian Robinson Jr., Was (vs. NYG) $5,800
RB: Devin Singletary, Hou (vs. Ari) $5,300
WR: Marquise Brown, Ari (at Hou) $5,300
WR: Brandon Aiyuk, SF (vs. TB) $7,200
WR: Terry McLaurin, Was (vs. NYG) $5,800
TE: Tyler Conklin, NYJ (at Buf) $2,900
Flex: CeeDee Lamb, Dal (at Car) $9,200
DST: Jets, NYJ (at Buf) $2,600
For late changes to Daily Duel rosters, follow @NYPost_Loftis on X
Season risked: $92
Season’s winnings: Drew $58, Jarad $9