1 Vs 1 RB Edition: LeSean McCoy Vs DeMarco Murray
In this series I'm going to compare two similarly ranked and drafted running backs putting them up against each other, and comparing them in a variety of categories such as 2016 stats, quality of offensive line, draft pedigree, age, combine results, measurables, teams time of possession, percentage of rushing attempts, snaps played, PFF grades, and depth chart competition. In an attempt to determine which of the two players will be the superior dynasty asset. In this edition I'm going to compare two veteran runningbacks in LeSean McCoy and DeMarco Murray who continue to produce as RB ones despite approaching thirty years old, and have shown virtually no signs of slowing down.
Both of these runningbacks had themselves phenomenal 2016 seasons putting up nearly identical stat lines and finishing in the top six in the NFL rushing. Regardless of only really playing 13 games last year McCoy carried the ball 234 times for 1267 yards, and 13 touchdowns averaging 5.4 yards per carry. He was also heavily involved in the Bills pass game catching 50 passes for 356 yards and a touchdown averaging 7.1 yards per reception on his 59 targets. Murray rushed 293 times last season gaining 1287 yards for a 4.4 yard per carry average, with 9 touchdowns. Murray was regularly utilized in the passing attack, hauling in 53 passes, for 377 yards and 3 touchdowns, also averaging 7.1 yards per reception. Pro Football Focus gave McCoy the advantage with an 85.0 grade,which was 7th overall among runningbacks. Murray was given a 78.9 grade good enough to finish as their 18th runningback, I also have McCoy ranked ahead of Murray in my dynasty runningback rankings as McCoy is at 12th and Murray at 18th. My main reason for having Murray so far behind McCoy is simply because Heisman Award winning runningback Derrick Henry is waiting in the wings to take Murray's starting job. Advantage: McCoy
A big part of running back success is tied to the quality of a teams offensive line, as we have seen time and time again a mid level running back with a top tier offensive line can have comparable stats with a much better running back with a questionable offensive line. Another contributing factor to overall runningback success is an individual teams game scripts in regards to passing versus rushing as well as teams average time of possession. Both of these runningbacks played behind quality offensive lines last season and both teams are projected to have top ten O-lines in 2017. Tennessee graded out as the NFL's top offensive line last year, and is projected to be the 4th best line this upcoming season. Buffalo also had a respectable offensive line last season finishing as the 11th overall O-line according to PFF, they are projected to be similar in 2017 as they are currently graded as the 10th overall offensive line coming into the 2017 season. Both teams rushed the ball on close to 50% of all offensive plays last year, with Buffalo holding a slight edge rushing on 48.6% of plays, compared to Tennessee who ran the ball 47.2% of the time last season. Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor rushed nearly 100 times last season which significantly impacts the Bills overall rushing play percentage without Taylor's rushing attempts Buffalo would have ran the ball on 40.8% of offensive plays last season. The Titans possessed the ball on average over a minute a game more than the Bills did, with average time of possession of 30:31 per game, and Buffalo possessing the ball an average of 29:15 per game. Tennessee is a run based offense and adding pass catching weapons such as Corey Davis and Eric Decker should lighten boxes for Murray this season. Advantage Murray
When it comes to age, measurables, combine results, and draft pedigree, these two have a lot in common, they are both 29 years old with Murray being five months older. Murray is the bigger of the two backs being listed at 6'1 220 pounds, compared to McCoy who is listed at 5'11 210 pounds. Murray outperformed McCoy in all combine results even as the bigger runningback, running a 4.41 40, putting up a 124 inch broad jump, and a 34.5 inch vertical. McCoy missed the 2009 combine due to illness, and looking at his uninspiring pro day results he may of still been sick at his pro day as he ran a sluggish 4.50 40, had a well below average 107 inch broad jump, and a brutal 29 inch vertical. A 29 inch vertical is comparable with the vertical of offensive lineman, and interior defenders, I couldn't find a single player at any of the skill positions, from McCoy's 2009 draft class that had a vertical under 30 inches. What I'm trying to say is that it's important to not to put too much stock into combine results and that despite a terrible combine it's entirely possibly to have a lengthy and successful career. So perhaps we shouldn't be writing off Dalvin Cook just yet due to a below average combine, but that's a whole different subject to be discussed another time. McCoy has the advantage in draft pedigree, being selected with the 21st pick of the 2nd round in 2009, 53rd overall by the Eagles as the eventual successor to Brian Westbrook. Murray was taken by Dallas in the 2011 draft with the 7th pick of the 3rd round, 71st overall. Advantage: Murray
Murray had the advantage when it comes to snaps played last season due to McCoy missing two plus games, which at this point in his career seems to be a regular occurrence as he misses a handful of games nearly every year. Murray played 862 snaps with 119 being in pass protection, where he had in impressive pass blocking grade of 81.4, McCoy managed 646 snaps playing 92 of those in pass protection, in which he had a 33.2 grade. McCoy doesn't have a lot of competition behind him for touches with the only real threat being Mike Tolbert . Murray has his eventual replacement breathing down his neck in Derrick Henry but other than the former Heisman winner there are no threats to Murray's touches currently on the roster. Advantage: McCoy
This runningback comparison was an incredibly close one, an argument can be made for either of these talented veterans coming out on top of this battle, but I'm going to have to lean towards McCoy. Mostly due to the fact that McCoy is under contract through the 2019 season and has essentially no competition behind him at this point so it's entirely possible they just run him into the ground over the next season or two. Murray is also under contract until the conclusion of the 2019 season, but with Henry being ready at a moments notice to be the Titans starter it's a distinct possibility Murray becomes a cap casualty after this season. Winner: LeSean McCoy