After last week’s comparison between Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson for the top fantasy quarterback in 2020, I decided to look at another pair that seem to be drafted in a similar spot and are popular choices for the third and fourth fantasy quarterback off the board. This week we will put Dak Prescott and Kyler Murray against each other to see who should be the next one drafted. Russell Wilson is also picked in this area, but for this article we will consider him the fifth quarterback selected and leave him for another article.
Both guys are incredibly gifted athletes, as well as really good quarterbacks. Prescott has more experience in the NFL as Murray has just one year starting in college and one in the pros, but it was only last year where he really took the next step towards being an elite level fantasy starter. Both have an ability to make most any throw on the field, although Murray probably has a little stronger arm. Both are pretty accurate throwers. Both have an ability to run the ball, and while Prescott has run for more touchdowns, Murray is much more dynamic running with the ball in open space.
Advantage: Kyler Murray
The Offensive System
The Cowboys are in a bit of a transition year with the release of Head Coach Jason Garrett and the hiring of Mike McCarthy. Garrett’s system was a much more down-the-field, aggressive passing attack, while McCarthy is more of a short-pass, West Coast-type system. The complication will be that the team retained Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore, despite firing the head coach. It would appear that Dallas will try to run some sort of hybrid of the two systems. This might limit some of the passing that Prescott did last year, but it still ensures that they will throw a lot, and his completion percentage will probably improve. In Arizona, Kliff Kingsbury installed the Air Raid offense. Obviously by its name, the idea here is to throw a lot. Murray threw the ball 542 times in his rookie season, and you can likely expect that number to increase in 2020. Both guys are in line to put on an aerial show this coming season.
This is one place where there is a decided advantage in my book. The Cardinals did trade for DeAndre Hopkins who is one of my favorite receivers in all of fantasy football. He is one of the top three receivers in football, and immediately increased Murray’s value. Arizona also has a good pass catching back in Kenyan Drake , who is also good running the ball which will keep defenses honest. After that, things get a little sketchy. Larry Fitzgerald will walk into the Hall of Fame on a red carpet, but he is coming to the end of his career and isn’t quite the same guy. Everyone loves Christian Kirk , but he has 111 catches in two seasons with only six touchdowns. Not only that, but all three of his touchdowns came in the same game last season. The potential is there, but Kirk is yet to breakout. Will it be this year? Maybe. Arizona has several other young, potentially exciting receivers, but nothing you would call experienced. On the Dallas side you have an All-World running back in Ezekiel Elliott which means that defenses have to respect the run game, and he is also an adequate pass catcher. At receiver they have Amari Cooper who, when healthy, is one of the top ten receivers in football. Michael Gallup would be a top receiver on 25 other teams in the league, and they had the gift of CeeDee Lamb fall into their laps in the 2020 NFL Draft. Lamb came into the draft as one of the top two rated receivers in one of the best receiver drafts in a number of years. Blake Jarwin is the better tight end of the two teams. Dallas is stacked with dynamic receivers for Prescott to throw to.
The Offensive Line
This is another big win for Prescott. Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick did retire this offseason, but the Cowboys offensive line is still one of the five best in football. They resigned Joe Looney who was the starting center in 2018 when Frederick was out of action, so they won’t skip too much of a beat there. Pro Football Focus ranked the Cowboys offensive line as the fourth best in the NFL, while the Cardinals sat at number 22. Prescott was sacked 23 times in 2019, while Murray hit the deck 48 times. He had a tendency to hold the ball too long as a rookie, but his line also did him no favors.
This one is another close one as they were reasonably careful with the ball. Murray, who only had seven picks in 14 college games, threw 12 interceptions in his first year in the NFL. He also fumbled five times, losing two. Prescott did have one fewer interception with 11 in 2019, but he did fumble six times, while also losing two. Neither guy is a huge turnover machine, and this category is not a reason to pick one over the other.
If you go to Fantasy Alarm’s ADP page (and I know you have been there!) and sort by quarterback you will see Kyler Murray is ranked third, while Prescott fourth. Most sites represented have that as the order, although they are close. My Fantasy League (59.8-65.7), Fantasy Football Calculator (51.4-61.9) and the FFPC (54.43-63.80) have the largest gap in average draft position in favor of Murray. Yahoo and Fantasy Pros are the two sites who have Prescott ahead of Murray in their ADP, and both are within a couple picks of each other. While none of these represent even a full round more value, unless you are in a ten-team league or less, both guys can be had around the same round. The sky is the limit for both of these players, and honestly you can’t go wrong with either one. Prescott has more experience, better weapons, and a better line. Murray might have a slightly better offensive system, his legs are a lethal weapon. Murray is four years younger, so in dynasty that might be a deciding factor for you, although age shouldn’t be the ultimate decision-making tool for you. Younger isn’t always better, but here it does come slightly into play
As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding, which is a ridiculous statement that I don’t know if I have ever used before. However, I know one thing. I am doing a Scott Fish Bowl mock draft right now and I had the decision of either Prescott or Murray. It was a difficult decision, but I chose Prescott. That to me tells me where I fall on this debate. I choose Prescott by a slim margin.
Come back next week for another quarterback preview and see who we will be talking about then!