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Drafting Todd Gurley

Thu Jun 13 2:58pm ET
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 Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
Laquon Treadwell Aug 26 1:00am ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell didn't improve his chances at securing a roster spot on Saturday, failing to catch his only target in a 20-9 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Treadwell was "showcased" in the previous preseason game, but he failed to make any type of impact in what was a poor showing for the Vikings offense as a whole (aside from Dalvin Cook's 85-yard touchdown run). It's possible that the fourth-year receiver could be subject to roster cuts with Chad Beebe, Jordan Taylor, Olabisi Johnson, and even Brandon Zylstra seemingly ahead of him on the depth chart. Look for Treadwell to get some run in the final preseason game as the team tries to sort out what to do with their former first-round pick.

From RotoBaller

Marcus Mariota Aug 26 12:50am ET

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense held the Tennessee Titans to just eight points and 233 yards of offense in Sunday's preseason win over the Titans. The front seven got the Steelers on the board first when Stephon Tuitt sacked Marcus Mariota in the end zone for a safety on the Titan's second drive. Overall, the Steelers had no problem exploiting a weak Tennessee offensive line, recording seven sacks and eight tackles for loss. Defensive back Sean Davis and linebacker Bud Dupree had to leave the game with apparent injuries but there was no official word on their diagnosis. While the Steelers typically do a solid job forcing turnovers, a Week 1 matchup with the Patriots makes the Steelers defense a tough sell for fantasy.

From RotoBaller

Vance McDonald Aug 26 12:40am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald didn't pull in either of his targets in Sunday's preseason win over Tennessee. McDonald spent his entire time on the field with the starters. Earlier this week, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said there was no chance that McDonald would play an entire game as the tight end, but it's hard to expect that Xavier Grimble will steal work from the 29-year-old. His ADP has crept up into the 7th round of fantasy drafts, which might be right at his ceiling, but with over 200 targets missing from last year, McDonald should prove to be a vital piece of the offense.

From RotoBaller

Taywan Taylor Aug 26 12:30am ET

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Taywan Taylor played exclusively with the third string offense in the preseason Week 3 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Taylor, who was once projected to be a starter this season, has fallen down the depth chart with a poor training camp. It is now very possible that Taylor is cut by the Titans before the start of the season should they decide to keep just five receivers. Taylor's ineffective play has opened up a door for rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown to have an early impact in the 2019 season.

From RotoBaller

Eli Rogers Aug 26 12:30am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Eli Rogers was targeted twice and pulled in one of them for 11 yards in Sunday's preseason game against Tennessee. He has just three receptions this preseason, but he is still fighting for snaps at the slot position in Pittsburgh. His prime competition is Ryan Switzer and rookie Diontae Johnson. However, Rogers started the final three games of the 2018 season, finishing with 12 catches for 79 yards. He holds no fantasy value during the preseason, but if he earns a role through the season's early- going, he could wind up being a solid flex play in PPR formats.

From RotoBaller

Ryan Switzer Aug 26 12:30am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Ryan Switzer was targeted once on offense but also returned three kicks and one punt in Sunday's preseason game with Tennessee. While Switzer didn't haul in his passing look, he looked solid in the return game. This wasn't encouraging for Switzer's outlook in the offense, especially since he only has one reception this preseason. Don't even consider him in the deepest of fantasy leagues. Even in PPR formats, it would be hard to justify a spot for Switzer as there are just too many other mouths to feed in Pittsburgh.

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James Washington Aug 26 12:20am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington caught a 41-yard touchdown pass to mark his only reception in Sunday's preseason win over Tennessee. It was his second touchdown of the preseason, which leads the team. He's shown off his big-play ability through three games, including receptions of 40, 41, and 43 yards. However, the majority of his work has come with Mason Rudolph, who is his former college teammate and is vying to be Ben Roethlisberger's backup in 2019. There is no telling if Roethlisberger will have the same connection that Rudolph does. Washington is a late-round sleeper going in the early parts of the 10th round of fantasy drafts. His upside is undeniable, but with Donte Moncrief also fighting for a high amount of targets, it's possible that Washington is Pittsburgh's WR3.

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Corey Davis Aug 26 12:20am ET

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis caught one pass for 25 yards in the team's Week 3 preseason matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Davis was able to create separation on many of his routes, but his production was limited by both bad blocking and ineffective quarterback play. The 2019 fantasy value of Davis rests directly on the ability of quarterback Marcus Mariota to both stay healthy and perform consistently. With his talent, the ceiling is a fantasy WR1 season, but the floor is much lower than many owners are willing to risk.

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A.J. Brown Aug 26 12:20am ET

Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown recorded his first career reception for 10 yards in the team's Week 3 preseason loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brown, who was selected in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, is set to be the WR3 for the Titans heading into the regular season behind just Corey Davis and Adam Humphries. While he doesn't warrant a roster spot in redraft formats heading into the season, Brown is a solid buy low candidate in dynasty leagues should the owner be looking for more immediate production.

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Donte Moncrief Aug 26 12:20am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Donte Moncrief caught both targets for 11 yards in Sunday's preseason win over the Titans. The first-year Steeler caught both passes for four and seven yards, respectively, on the team's first drive bust wasn't targeted after that. Moncrief hasn't been a feature of the offense during the preseason but word around the team is that he is still the favorite to start opposite of JuJu Smith-Schuster when the regular season begins. His training camp position battle with James Washington has been a topic of note, but there hasn't been much word from the coaching staff on who is the favorite. Moncrief hasn't quite lived up to his expectations he had coming out of college, but has a great opportunity in 2019 with his new team. His mid-10th round ADP has the chance to pay off great dividends if his connection with Ben Roethlisberger is as strong as reports suggest.

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Jeremy McNichols Aug 26 12:20am ET

Tennessee Titans running back Jeremy McNichols had another strong showing in the team's preseason Week 3 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, rushing nine times for 43 yards. McNichols has been the most effective running back for the Titans by far this preseason with Derrick Henry (calf) sitting out. McNichols is firmly on the roster bubble heading into the fourth and final preseason game and needs to continue his impressive play to solidify his role on the team. While unlikely he has any major role in the backfield this year, McNichols does make for an intriguing stash in deep dynasty leagues.

From RotoBaller

JuJu Smith-Schuster Aug 26 12:10am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster caught four of five targets for 37 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's win over the Titans. Ben Roethlisberger hit the 22-year-old in stride in the back of the end zone from 17 yards out on the team's third drive. Smith-Schuster is Pittsburgh WR1 heading into 2019 and is being drafted as such. Typically going in the early picks of the second round of drafts, the USC product has an immense amount of fantasy upside this year. He hasn't topped seven touchdowns in either of his two professional seasons, but he could cement himself as one of the league's elite receivers in 2019.

From RotoBaller

Marcus Mariota Aug 26 12:10am ET

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 0 of 3 passes and was sacked for a safety in just two drives in the team's Week 3 preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The entire Titans offense looked out of sync in this one, only scoring six points on the night. While this was not the showing fantasy owners had hoped for, it is important to remember that it's still just preseason. Despite this, the inability of the offensive line to protect Mariota continues to be a concern for the injury-riddled quarterback, especially with the Cleveland Browns awaiting them in Week 1 of the regular season.

From RotoBaller

Benny Snell Jr. Aug 26 12:00am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Benny Snell Jr. (groin) didn't appear in Sunday night's preseason game against the Tennessee Titans. Snell suffered a groin injury in last week's preseason game against the Chiefs and he did not practice all week. The rookie out of Kentucky has rushed for 42 yards on 20 carries through his first two career NFL games. As a third-round pick, his spot should be safe on the roster, but he won't have much value on the team unless something were to happen to either James Conner or Jaylen Samuels. He is merely a dynasty stash for the time being.

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Jaylen Samuels Aug 25 11:50pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels carried the ball four times for 16 yards, while also hauling in two passes for 11 yards in Sunday's preseason win over the Titans. The 23-year-old has a solid role locked up as a pass-catcher in the Steelers' offense, but the team has made it known they plan to use both he and incumbent James Conner simultaneously this season. In PPR formats, Samuels has a mid-to-late ninth round ADP which would present fantastic value if anything were to happen to Conner. While there is no proof of his standalone role, Samuels is worthy of a draft pick based on his potential in a high-upside offense.

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Joshua Dobbs Aug 25 11:40pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Joshua Dobbs finished 4 of 9 for 79 yards and an interception in Sunday's preseason win over Tennessee. Dobbs also rushed for 10 yards on five attempts. The third-year signal caller is fighting with Mason Rudolph to backup Ben Roethlisberger. In the preseason, he's thrown for 259 yards and two interceptions with no touchdowns. However, Dobbs' ability to make plays with his feet has kept him in the battle. While the odds are likely stacked against him, the Tennessee product doesn't carry any fantasy value, even if he wins the backup job.

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James Conner Aug 25 11:40pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner toted five carries for 41 yards, while also catching a pair of passes for 15 yards in Sunday's preseason win over the Titans. Conner most likely saw his last work of the preseason against Tennessee and performed well with his fellow starters. The University of Pittsburgh product carries some injury risk after missing three games in 2018 with an ankle injury, but his late-first round to early-second round ADP is understandable given his role in a top-tier offense. Have no fears taking Conner at his price tag, but don't be afraid to roster his handcuff Jaylen Samuels just in case Conner goes down early on.

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Mason Rudolph Aug 25 11:30pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph completed 6 of 9 passes for 75 yards, including a touchdown and an interception in Sunday's preseason win over the Titans. Rudolph connected with James Washington for a 41-yard touchdown, their second time in as many games. The second-year man out of Oklahoma State is vying to become Ben Roethlisberger's backup and has thrown for 243 yards, three scores, and a pick this preseason. His competition with Joshua Dobbs has been a tight race and will come down all the way to final cuts before a decision is made. The two offer different styles, with Rudolph acting as the typical drop back passer. He only holds dynasty value at the moment, and but if he wins the job and anything were to happen to Roethlisberger, Rudolph could hold week-to-week streaming value.

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Ben Roethlisberger Aug 25 11:20pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finished 6 of 13 for 63 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 18-6 preseason win over the Titans. Roethlisberger connected with JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 17-yard touchdown in the first quarter. The score ended the 37-year-old's day after three drives. This is likely all we will see of Roethlisberger this preseason, as the real issue is naming his backup of either Joshua Dobbs or Mason Rudolph. Roethlisberger has been going in the 11th round of fantasy draft's thus far and offers a high-ceiling for those who like to wait for their team's quarterback.

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Samaje Perine Aug 25 9:23pm ET

Washington Redskins RB Samaje Perine (undisclosed) worked with the rehab group during practice Sunday, Aug. 25.

From TheHuddle