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One and Done - FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Drafting Todd Gurley

Thu Jun 13 2:58pm ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Gurley is tough call for owners


Every season there seems to be a player or two that is a tough call for fantasy teams, a polarizing figure. Well, this year that player is Todd Gurley. He was third overall in fantasy running back scoring last year but saw his playing time decrease down the stretch and in the playoffs because of a sore knee, a knee that has been surgically repaired in the past. There are questions surrounding his health and workload for the coming season, making where to draft Gurley a tough call for fantasy teams. 

So I thought it would be interesting to get some insight from some top fantasy experts. My question to them: Where do you feel comfortable drafting Todd Gurley this year and why? 

Here are the results: 

"I don’t hold out a lot of hope for Todd Gurley returning to his perch as a top running back this season. The Rams needed him the most down the stretch and he was completely ineffective. Their silence during the playoffs and the offseason only lead me to believe things are worse than they seem. If the Rams still have him in their offensive plans, I’d expect they’ll limit his touches to make sure he can handle a reduced workload.

Running backs have the shortest shelf life of any skill position so it’s possible he may never be back to what he was early in 2018. For that reason I’m avoiding Gurley in fantasy drafts this season…unless he falls into huge value territory, possibly in Round 4 or 5."

-Steve Gardner (USA Today)

“While I wouldn’t take Gurley in the first round, I’d feel comfortable drafting him in the second. Yes, his workload is going to decline this season. However, he still plays for an electric offense and should be among the league leaders in red zone rushing attempts, so I don’t think touchdowns will be all that hard for him to come by.”

-Mike Barner (RTSports)

“I am 100 percent comfortable drafting Gurley in the second round IF I have a running back in the first round.  He goes right before Joe Mixon for me.  He has had 1,800-plus yards from scrimmage each of the last two years and averages 15 touchdowns.  The knee is a HUGE worry, so you have to have a running back in Round 1 and then take him as a RB2.  If you draft DeAndre Hopkins in the first, you have to take a more sure thing.  I think he has 10-12 touchdowns this year and 1,600 scrimmage yards with 50-plus receptions.  That is 300-plus points in a PPR. BOOM.”

-Rick Wolf (Fantasy Alarm)

“Depending on draft slot, late third or early forth round, which means he will probably not be on any of my teams.  I think the top three draft picks are critical to a successful season, and at this point, I can’t trust Gurley to be productive or even playing.  I think the Rams will be cautious with him this year, and when he does play, he won’t be the ‘bell cow’ he’s been in the past.”

-Charlie Wiegert (RTSports)

“Given the information we have at the moment, I would not hesitate to take Gurley early in the second round and perhaps as early as No. 10 overall. Even if we trim 25 percent of his production (touches, yards, touchdowns, etc.) across the board in each of his two years under HC Sean McVay, he still would have finished as the RB8 in 2018 and RB5 in 2017. Yes, there is substantial risk in investing significant draft capital into a running back with a knee ‘condition’ like Gurley has, but how does his risk make him all that different from just about every fantasy back going in the same area (Mixon, Chubb, Cook) or right after him (Damien Williams, Devonta Freeman, Fournette)?” 

-Doug Orth (FF Today)

“For me personally, the draft would have to fall ‘perfectly’ in order for me to take Gurley at 2.08 with the list of guys I’ve made out, I feel like you’re risking too much for guys who are proven (Mike Evans, Zach Ertz) but I would take Gurley over the likes of Dalvin Cook or Nick Chubb due to the question marks of their own (Cook injury history, Chubb effectiveness in the passing game + Kareem Hunt factor once his suspension is up).”

-Stephen Hawley (’17 Fantasy Championship winner and #5 ranked fantasy player on RTSports)

"There's definite concern over the knee, but if I'm drafting at the tail-end of the first round, I would consider grabbing Gurley, especially if I'm on the wheel and can guarantee another solid running back with my second pick. The only problem I have is how Darrell Henderson is a must-handcuff and you probably have to reach before you would normally draft him to ensure you get him. It's one of those situations where those who don't believe in Gurley will make their move in the middle rounds just to screw you over; just like those who didn't own Le'Veon Bell made it a point to target DeAngelo Williams."

-Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm)

“Every pick carries some risk but avoiding risk early in drafts is always a strategy I like to employ. I know many will say go big or go home, but I think playing it a little safe with your early picks is the smart move when it comes to injury, playing time, etc. So for me, I would not take Gurley until the mid to late second round of drafts this year. I can’t invest early in a running back with a potentially bad knee and a decrease in playing time from past seasons. And if I’m picking early, I want to make sure I have already used my first-round pick on a running back before grabbing Gurley. That would make me much more comfortable with selecting Gurley for my team.” 

-Jeff Paur (RTSports)

Hopefully, this article helps your decision making when it comes to Gurley for the coming year. There doesn't seem to be a right answer when it comes to drafting him, but maybe hearing from some of these experts will help make a decision for you when it comes to Gurley. He is shaping up as a make or break fantasy player for the coming year, a critical player in fantasy drafts. Good luck in navigating all your drafts. 

Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
Evan Engram Aug 24 5:40am ET

New York Giants tight end Evan Engram finished with one reception for nine yards during Friday's win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The 24-year-old is entering his third season in the league, with Friday being his first taste of action so far this preseason. With the departure of star wideout Odell Beckham Jr., who was dealt to the Browns this past offseason, Engram's fantasy draft stock has remained relatively high. Given the lack of options at the tight end position, he will need to remain healthy in order for fantasy managers to reap the benefits of his abilities as a player this upcoming season, which is something that has been an issue over his past two seasons.

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Daniel Jones Aug 24 5:30am ET

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones went 9-for-11 for 141 yards in the win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The rookie has been solid throughout the preseason, accumulating 369 yards and two touchdowns while maintaining a healthy 83.3 completion percentage to go along with a 140.1 quarterback rating. With Eli Manning also having a productive preseason, Jones will ride the bench, at least initially, until the veteran demonstrates that he is no longer a viable option as the team's main signal-caller, leaving Jones with little fantasy appeal outside of dynasty formats at the moment.

From RotoBaller

Baker Mayfield Aug 23 11:03pm ET

Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield completed 10 of his 26 passes for 72 yards and an interception in a 13-12 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Friday, Aug. 23.

Fantasy Spin: It was an ugly offensive performance for both teams, but it is worth noting that while all the pieces are in place for Mayfield to have a big season, he is still unproven compared to some other QB1 options.

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Deone Bucannon Aug 23 11:03pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Deone Bucannon (knee) suffered a knee injury during a 13-12 preseason win over the Cleveland Browns Friday, Aug. 23.

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Kentrell Brice Aug 23 11:03pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers S Kentrell Brice (shoulder) suffered a shoulder injury during a 13-12 preseason win over the Cleveland Browns Friday, Aug. 23.

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Austin Seibert Aug 23 11:00pm ET

Cleveland Browns kicker Austin Seibert nailed all four of his field goal attempts in a 13-12 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. His long field goal went for 54 yards in the loss. The rookie kicker has made headlines for the wrong reasons this preseason due to his struggles with accuracy after Cleveland made him a fifth-round pick in the past draft. Fortunately for Seibert, his main competitor Greg Joseph hasn't been any better in the kicking game. Joseph did not get a chance to play on Friday night, presumably he will get the entire fourth preseason game to show that he is the man for the job. Whoever wins the kicker job will have some fantasy value tied to what will be an exciting offense this season.

From RotoBaller

Jameis Winston Aug 23 11:00pm ET

The Cleveland Browns defense was excellent in a 13-12 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. Cleveland racked up seven sacks in the loss, with five of those sacks coming against Jameis Winston and Tampa Bay's first-string offense. The pass rush looked fierce in the contest, with offseason addition Olivier Vernon picking up two sacks on the evening. Cleveland's defense is expected to be a top-six unit in fantasy this season, making them a defense worth targeting toward the end of fantasy drafts.

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Demetrius Harris Aug 23 10:50pm ET

Cleveland Browns tight end Demetrius Harris failed to catch any of his four targets in his team's third preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. With David Njoku not playing, Harris got the start and played into the second quarter with quarterback Baker Mayfield. The veteran tight end is expected to take a secondary role this season but Harris would have some standalone value if Njoku were to suffer an injury. Harris does not need to be drafted in fantasy leagues but he would presumably be a hot waiver add should he find his way into the starting job during the season.

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D'Ernest Johnson Aug 23 10:50pm ET

Cleveland Browns running back D'Ernest Johnson turned in a solid game in his team's 13-12 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. Johnson struggled on the ground, gaining just 10 yards on five carries, but he excelled in the passing game with three catches for 43 yards. The former Orlando Apollo is trying his best to make the final Cleveland roster, having gained 86 yards on 20 carries while adding six catches for 69 yards and a score. Johnson is on the radar as an extremely deep dynasty taxi squad stash going forward.

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Kareem Hunt Aug 23 10:40pm ET

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt carried the ball five times for 11 yards in his team's third preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. He also added a three-yard reception in the game. With Nick Chubb sitting out to rest, Hunt got the start and played into the second quarter in the game. The third-year running back has now totaled 17 rushing yards on seven carries across two preseason games. Hunt has to serve an eight-game suspension to open the season but he's expected to fill the passing-down role behind Chubb once he is reinstated for the second half. He should not be drafted outside of deep leagues this year.

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T.J. Hockenson Aug 23 10:40pm ET

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Blaine Gabbert Aug 23 10:40pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert (wrist) injured his left wrist in the preseason game on Thursday night against the Browns. Gabbert was seen on the sidelines wearing a sling, so this injury is likely pretty serious. With the regular season opener coming up quickly, it looks like Ryan Griffin will be the primary backup to starter Jameis Winston in Week 1. Stay tuned for more updates on the exact nature of Gabbert's injury. Gabbert went 4-for-5 for 33 yards before his injury.

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Rashard Higgins Aug 23 10:40pm ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins caught three of his seven targets for 18 yards in his team's third preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. Higgins acted as the team's de facto No. 1 receiver with both Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry resting. He failed to break any big plays on an evening where Baker Mayfield struggled to move the ball down the field. Thanks to an Antonio Callaway four-game suspension to begin the year, Higgins has the No. 3 wide receiver role locked up to open the season. He has some low-end flex appeal in PPR leagues as he should have a few big games this season.

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Kerryon Johnson Aug 23 10:30pm ET

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Baker Mayfield Aug 23 10:30pm ET

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Tre'Davious White Aug 23 10:23pm ET

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Tra Carson Aug 23 10:13pm ET

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Blaine Gabbert Aug 23 10:03pm ET

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Blaine Gabbert Aug 23 9:43pm ET

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