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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
Julio Jones Jul 16 12:10am ET

The Atlanta Falcons No. 1 offseason priority is now to lock up wide receiver Julio Jones to a long-term deal, but that could take a while, according to sources. Jones believes that owner Arthur Blank will get something done and hasn't been threatening a holdout with another year still left on his deal. The 30-year-old is getting to be a bit more of an injury risk, but he's still an elite fantasy wideout and will be one of the first guys off the board in the early rounds.

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Julio Jones Jul 16 12:00am ET

The Atlanta Falcons and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett agreed to a four-year contract extension on Monday. The contract is expected to be worth $68 million with $38 million guaranteed, according to a source. He was initially set to receive the $15.209 million franchise tag if a deal wasn't worked out by Monday. The team can now move on to extensions for receiver Julio Jones and linebacker Deion Jones. The Falcons and Deion Jones' representation will meet face-to-face on Wednesday. Jarrett, a fifth-round pick in 2015, has been a top defender for Atlanta and had 53 total pressures in 2018, according to Pro Football Focus. He also had six sacks, three forced fumbles and a team-high 16 QB hits.

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Andy Isabella Jul 15 11:50pm ET

Arizona Cardinals rookie wide receiver Andy Isabella, a second-round pick this year, looks like he'll get an initial chance in the offense behind veteran Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, who looked good in his rookie season in 2018. Rookies Keesean Johnson and Hakeem Butler could also be in the mix, but they might have a steeper climb for relevant work early on. Isabella is a great long-term pick in dynasty leagues and has late-round sleeper appeal in what could be a high-flying offensive attack under rookie quarterback Kyler Murray and new head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

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Alex Smith Jul 15 11:50pm ET

Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith (leg) is no longer wearing an external fixator on his surgically repaired right leg. He credited the fixator with allowing him "to heal and walk again." Although Smith is unlikely to play in 2019 or perhaps ever again in the NFL, this is a step in the right direction and some needed good news for the veteran signal-caller. The 'Skins drafted quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the first round, so Smith's future isn't in D.C. You can ignore him in upcoming fantasy drafts completely.

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Phillip Lindsay Jul 15 11:40pm ET

Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (wrist) said the training staff will determine the repetitions he gets at training camp, but "in my mind I'm ready. I'm 100 percent," Lindsay said. He should be ready for Week 1, barring a setback this summer. Lindsay was one of the most pleasant surprises in his rookie season after going undrafted. The 24-year-old became Denver's go-to back and finished with 192 attempts for 1.037 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. He also caught 35 passes for 241 yard and another score. His stock is obviously way up going into his second season, but he'll still have to remain effective to hold off a push from Royce Freeman.

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Royce Freeman Jul 15 11:40pm ET

In 2018, Phillip Lindsay had 192 carries to fellow rookie Royce Freeman's 130, but Justin Adams of CBS 4 believes that that may change in 2019. Lindsay is recovering from a wrist injury and has yet to participate in offseason activities with the team, which Adams believes has put Freeman in a position to potentially wind up as Denver's lead back. That's the role Freeman was initially drafted to play before Lindsay broke out in the preseason, so it wouldn't be a shock to see Freeman assert himself more in 2019. Keep an eye on the situation, as it could lead to Lindsay losing fantasy value while Freeman gains some.

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Albert Wilson Jul 15 9:43pm ET

Miami Dolphins WR Albert Wilson (hip) may start training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Fantasy Spin: Wilson did not do much this offseason, so fantasy owners should monitor the situation during training camp. He played well at times last season and could be the No. 1 receiver for Miami this season if he is healthy. He has a chance to be a late-round option in fantasy drafts.

Alex Collins Jul 15 8:33pm ET

Free-agent RB Alex Collins (leg) recently suffered a broken leg and had surgery to repair the injury, according to a source.

Martavis Bryant Jul 15 6:53pm ET

Free-agent WR Martavis Bryant (Raiders) has applied to the NFL for reinstatement. He has been working with the NFL and the NFL Players Association to address his mental health issues.

Ezekiel Elliott Jul 15 5:50pm ET

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is reportedly considering holding out from Cowboys training camp. The team and Elliott (with his agents) have been in conversation for over a month, and the general thought is that Elliott won't hold out if he thinks the team is "making a serious push to get an extension worked." Elliott knows his value is at a high point right now and with the beating he takes each year, he does not want to risk going into the season without an extension at least in the process of getting done. This seems like a lot of smoke and not much fire for now, but it's something to keep an eye on as the Cowboys are scheduled to report to training camp in less than two weeks.

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Mike Davis Jul 15 5:40pm ET

Chicago Bears running back Mike Davis will head into training camp looking to become more than the 'forgotten' man in the team's backfield. Most of the fantasy buzz this summer has gone towards teammates Tarik Cohen and rookie David Montgomery but don't count out Davis. The free agent acquisition fell short of having a 'breakout campaign' last season but set career- best marks in carries (114), yards (514), receptions (34), receiving yards (214) and total touchdowns (5). Davis was one of many running backs that the Seahawks rotated last year and he posted two games with 100 yards from scrimmage or more. Davis was in line for a heavier workload this season but drafting Montgomery is certain to cut into the timeshare. It is hard to envision a scenario where Davis averages more than 15 carries a game this season but could lead the team in touches in the red zone for an ascending offense.

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Jadeveon Clowney Jul 15 5:00pm ET

Houston Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and the team were unable to reach a long-term deal before Monday's deadline, which means Clowney will play on the franchise tag this season. The former number-one overall pick is expected to hold out for most of training camp, but there's been no indication yet that he'll miss time during the season. Clowney's been injured a lot, but when healthy he's a disruptive defender and has tremendous upside in IDP leagues. His uncertain future does introduce some uncertainty for dynasty owners, though, as Monday's news likely means Clowney won't be a Texan when the 2020 season rolls around.

From RotoBaller

Julio Jones Jul 15 4:53pm ET

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones' contract extension is now the team's 'most pressing priority,' but NFL Network's Ian Rapoport states that it 'might take a while.' However, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports Jones' agent and the team are scheduled for face-to-face negotiations on Wednesday, July 17.

Ezekiel Elliott Jul 15 4:21pm ET

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott has privately said he intends to hold out of training camp unless he gets a new contract, according to Pro football Talk's Mike Florio via a league source.

David Johnson Jul 15 4:03pm ET

Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson's receiving skills 'should come back to the forefront' after being 'all but ignored last season,' in the opinion of Darren Urban of AZcardinals.com.

Fantasy Spin: This has been the assumption among fantasy owners since Arizona hired Kliff Kingsbury, but it always helps to get it confirmed from a scribe that covers the team like Urban does. Johnson's goal of a 1,000/1,000 season may be a bit too much to ask, but this figures to be the 27-year-old's best shot of hitting those marks since his incredible 2016 campaign. He's well worth a pick in the top half of the first round of most fantasy drafts.

Alex Smith Jul 15 3:33pm ET

Washington Redskins QB Alex Smith (knee) will no longer be required to wear the external fixator that he had worn for eight months since suffering his devastating knee injury in November of 2018.

Grady Jarrett Jul 15 3:03pm ET

Atlanta Falcons DT Grady Jarrett reportedly reached an agreement on a four-year contract worth $68 million on Monday, July 15. Jarrett had been designated as the team's franchise player.

Ezekiel Elliott Jul 15 2:23pm ET

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott has privately said he intends to hold out of training camp unless he gets a new contract, according to Pro football Talk's Mike Florio via a league source.

Fantasy Spin: Elliott still has two years left on his rookie contract, so this is a bit different than Melvin Gordon's situation. Unlike most of the running backs in the NFL in today's game, the two-time Pro Bowler has slightly more leverage here due to the lack of depth Dallas has at the position and how important he is to the Cowboys' offense. It's unlikely he'll hold out into the regular season though. However, if he does, rookies Mike Weber and Tony Pollard would likely split touches.

Robbie Gould Jul 15 12:50pm ET

The San Francisco 49ers agreed to a two-year deal with kicker Robbie Gould on Monday. The sides avoided a potential franchise tag controversy by guaranteeing Gould $10.5 million over two years with a team option for two additional seasons. There were rumors that Gould was unhappy in the Bay and preferred returning to his hometown Chicago, but that is now moot. Gould, 36, has been a steady boot throughout his career with an 87.7 field goal percentage and a 78 percent success rate on attempts of 40-plus yards. Since joining the Niners in 2017, hes converted 72 of 75 field goal tries (96 percent). With the 49ers offense expected to improve in 2019, Gould should be a solid fantasy kicker.

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Josh Allen Jul 15 12:10pm ET

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen had a higher interception rate than touchdown rate and a completion percentage of just 52.8% during his rookie year. Going into his sophomore season, Allen seems very aware of the mistakes he made as a rookie and is eager to fix them. During an interview on XM NFL Radio last week, Allen said, "I know theres a lot of things that I missed on last year" and he described these misses as "A lot of dumb plays." He then went on to describe his goal of "Learning from those and then going into next season and trying to apply what Ive learned onto the field." Allen is a popular sleeper going into the 2019 season and if he can indeed cut down on the miscues, there's a good chance he could tap into some of that sleeper potential. He's a great target in two-QB leagues.

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