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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams went through individual drills in a recent practice, behind projected starter Aaron Jones. Williams is clearly the backup for the Packers this season, and was able to be effective last season, but wasn't able to pop on film. Fantasy owners should consider him as a handcuff in later rounds, as injury to Jones would mean Williams would be given the reigns of the backfield, with rookie Dexter Williams having been inconsistent this offseason.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver J'mon Moore has struggled in camp this season, especially with dropped passes. However, in recent practice session, he made one of the best plays of camp, making a diving catch from quarterback Tim Boyle, over the back of safety Natrell Jameson. Moore is currently buried on the depth chart behind a number of players including Jake Kumerow who looks to be the backup wide receiver for the team should any of the starting trio miss time in the season.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones is looking forward to getting into a preseason game. The Packers are due to play Oakland Raiders this week in preseason, and Jones is wanting to be involved, having been limited with a hamstring injury earlier in camp. Jones is widely considered to be the starting running back for the team, with Jamaal Williams being the backup for him. Jones was highly effective last season, averaging over 5.4 yards per carrying. If you are able to pick up Jones as your RB2 this draft season, then that would give you a significant advantage at the position for the season.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams made a pair of one-handed grabs during practice. Adams is an elite wide receiver and could finish top of the position in fantasy scoring. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers commented earlier in the season that Adams was more open than he thought, and should, therefore, be able to continue to get the healthy target share that he received last season. Fantasy owners in the first round should feel confident about adding him at the top of drafts.
Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby is holding off a strong challenge from Sam Ficken, who was claimed from waivers early in the offseason. Crosby has hit 16 of his 17 attempts in practice, and in the preseason matchups has hit all three of his kicks. However, Ficken who was in camp earlier, with the veteran missing time through injury, has connected on 28 of the 35 attempts he has taken on in practice. Whoever wins this battle in camp will have fantasy value in an offense that should score points this season.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jake Kumerow struggled in a recent practice with the team. Kumerow had a tough day, dropping two passes and wasn't able to catch the third ball from quarterback Aaron Rodgers along the sideline. Kumerow is still likely to be the next guy up should any of the initial starting receivers miss time in the season, having had an impressive training camp and showing in the preseason. Kumerow will not likely be drafted but could be a hot waiver pickup if there were any injuries to the starting wide receivers.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham missed practice with an injured finger, but he won't require surgery on it. Graham has been impressive in camp, after developing on his chemistry with starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers. However, with Graham missing time through injury this gives rookie Jace Sternberger an opportunity to impress. Graham should be a good fantasy option in the later rounds of drafts, but if he continues to miss time through injury then that could change.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jace Sternberger returned to practice, after missing several sessions due to the injury to his jaw he suffered in the open practice with the Houston Texans. Sternberger's return coincides with veteran Jimmy Graham being forced to miss practice with an injury to his finger. If Graham misses time, then Sternberger could be fantasy relevant at the start of the season, but once the veteran returns Sternberger is likely to be limited in games.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has returned to practice for a second straight day after missing time with back tightness. Rodgers is yet to take a competitive snap in the new Packers offense but could be available for the preseason game against the Oakland Raiders this week. Rodgers could end up being a great value in fantasy drafts this season, given the fall he suffered last season, but that hinges on his ability to get out on the field and put the new offense into action.
Despite earning two straight Pro Bowl nods and taking his team to the Super Bowl last year, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff is ranked as the No. 13 quarterback in the preseason by Pro Football Focus. For what it's worth RotoBaller has Goff ranked as the No. 9 fantasy signal caller entering the season. The 24-year-old has improved in each of his three seasons in the NFL and had 4,688 yards passing, 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2018. However, Goff also took a career-high 33 sacks and was responsible for 21 total turnovers. He's in a great place in Sean McVay's offense with perhaps the best receiver trio (Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp) in the league, so don't be surprised if he improves upon last season if he makes better decisions more consistently.
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida ran the ball once for four yards and caught one pass for no gain in his first preseason action on Monday night against the Broncos. Breida somehow managed to play in 14 games last year despite dealing with several nagging injuries along the way, and he led the team with 814 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 153 attempts. He also caught 27 passes for 261 yards and two more scores. The 24-year-old is versatile and tough, but he's also going to have to contend for touches with Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon, although McKinnon's injury this preseason is boosting Breida's fantasy stock as an RB3/flex type or handcuff for Coleman owners.
New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson is eager to prove in 2019 that he is more than just a deep threat, and the team expects him to run routes all over the field. "Hes going to run all types of routes: short, intermediate, and deep routes. Hes going to run the whole gamut," receivers coach Shawn Jefferson said. Anderson had three catches for 32 yards in the preseason game against the Falcons last Thursday and made multiple contested catches. The 26-year-old had 50 receptions for 752 yards and six touchdowns in 14 games in 2018, but don't be surprised if he has a career year in 2019 if quarterback Sam Darnold takes a second-year leap. He's not a bad target as a WR3 with WR2 upside around the eighth round of drafts.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Trent Taylor (foot) could be back by Week 1. The oft-hobbled third-year player underwent foot surgery on August 10 with an expected rehab of 4-6 weeks, although head coach Kyle Shanahan believes he wont miss any regular season action. Limited by injuries, Taylor has tallied just 645 yards across his first two seasons but has been effective when healthy. Hes also a first down machine, moving the chains on 38 of 69 career grabs. Assuming a swift recovery, Taylor is locked as the Niners slot receiver and is a deep PPR play. If he endures any setbacks, rookie receiver Jalen Hurd and second-year man Richie James Jr. are beneficiaries.
The Miami Dolphins agreed to a four-year extension with wide receiver/returner Jakeem Grant on Tuesday, sources told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The sixth-round pick in 2016 was entering the final year of his rookie deal and was set to make $720,000 this year. While he doesn't really move the needle in fantasy as a wideout with Miami's QB situation unsettled, Grant is a special teams ace and has logged 59 punt returns and 58 kickoff returns in the last three seasons, including three returns for scores. He has 34 catches for 471 yards and four touchdowns in the last two seasons and should go undrafted in standard fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert tallied 58 yards and a touchdown on six carries along with two catches for 42 yards in Mondays preseason game against the Denver Broncos. Mostert was the most effective offensive player on the field and further made his case for a roster spot. As a special teams lifer, the fourth-year player got his first real opportunity in 2018, averaging 7.7 yards per carry on 34 attempts before suffering a season-ending forearm injury. With Jerick McKinnon (knee) experiencing a setback recovering from a torn ACL, Mostert will likely start the year backing up Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida. Its conceivable Mostert will receive a handful of touches per game, but hes not currently a fantasy option.
San Francisco 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon (knee) could return to individual drills this week, per head coach Kyle Shanahan. McKinnon received a platelet-rich plasma injection 17 days ago after dealing with knee soreness as he recovers from a torn ACL. While individual work is encouraging, he will not participate in team drills as the Niners remains cautious on his situation. McKinnons absence clears more opportunities for Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida, but also opens a window for Raheem Mostert, who played well in the teams second preseason game. Without a clear timetable on his return from a major injury, McKinnon should keep slipping on fantasy draft boards.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin played in all 11 snaps with the first team Monday against the Denver Broncos. With the offensive struggling, Goodwin did not record a stat but with a solid camp thus far, is still viewed as a starter. However, with receiver Dante Pettis hovering and rookies Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd making flashy plays, Goodwins job security shouldnt be taken for granted. After popping for 962 yards in 2017, injuries limited the 28-year-old speedster to just 395 yards last season. While he appears to remain important to the Niners, Goodwin doesnt hold much fantasy value.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel was not targeted but ripped a 45-yard run in Mondays preseason game against the Denver Broncos. After collecting 75 yards last Saturday, the rookie made another splash, nearly scoring on a third quarter reverse. Samuel was taken in the second round this past offseason and continues to port his impressive college resume and advanced metrics to the NFL. Currently on his way to securing a starting job, Samuel is gaining sleeper appeal as RotoBallers WR73 heading into drafts.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jalen Hurd (back) played just eight snaps in Mondays preseason game against the Denver Broncos. This is a letdown after Hurd exploded for two touchdowns on five targets in his first game, but head coach Kyle Shanahan indicated Hurd dealt with back stiffness all week and was therefore limited. The 2019 third-round pick is a monstrous 65 and 226 pounds and could develop into a reliable red-zone threat. However, even with slot receiver Trent Taylor (foot) sidelined, Hurds playing time appears uncertain with Richie James Jr. still in the mix. Although the upside is undeniable, Hurd is a just a late round lottery ticket heading into fantasy drafts.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dante Pettis went catchless in 11 snaps in Mondays preseason game against the Denver Broncos. Pettis action all came alongside starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo but he failed to record a stat as the signal-caller struggled in first game action since Week 3 of last season. Recent reports suggested that rookie receivers Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd are pushing Pettis for a starting job but hes still running alongside the ones. Pettis emerged as a solid second option to tight end George Kittle in 2018, ending the year with 359 yards and four scores in his final five games. However, with the teams investments in Samuels and Hurd this past draft, Pettis needs to continue ascending to secure his playing time. For now, Pettis looks safe as a backend WR2.