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.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Cody Kessler (concussion) has resumed practicing. He was the main backup to starter Carson Wentz after Nate Sudfeld (wrist) got hurt, but the Eagles signed Josh McCown after watching their two backups go down. McCown will serve as the primary backup once the season starts, and Kessler's likely only around until Sudfeld is able to return.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (quadriceps) and running back Ronald Jones II (knee) both missed practice on Monday, putting their availability for the preseason game on Friday against the Browns into question. Head coach Bruce Arians said the injuries are nothing serious, and both players are day-to-day. Jones is expected to play Friday, but the team is less certain about Evans. Evans has yet to make a catch in the preseason so far. Barring setbacks, both players should be ready for Week 1. Evans is a WR1 in fantasy and should be even more valuable in head coach Bruce Arians' offense. Jones was a bust as a rookie but will have plenty of opportunities to become the team's lead back in 2019.
Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Charcandrick West signed with the Indianapolis Colts on Monday after they moved recently signed running back D'Onta Foreman to Injured Reserve. Behind running backs Nyheim Hines and Marlon Mack, there are some snaps available that West could capitalize on while fellow running back Jordan Wilkins is recovering from injury. West showed some flashes during his time with the Chiefs, and he will be fighting for a roster spot as camp winds down.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (back) returned to practice on Monday after being scratched as a precaution before the preseason game last Thursday against the Ravens due to back tightness. However, it's still uncertain if Rodgers will play in the preseason game Thursday against the Raiders in Canada. Head coach Matt LaFleur said Rodgers "looked pretty good today to me" on Monday. Even though he's learning a new offensive scheme, it's not necessary that Rodgers play in the remaining preseason games. There's obvious rebound potential for Rodgers and Green Bay's offense in 2019 under LaFleur. He's a top-five fantasy signal-caller.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (shoulder) will make his preseason debut on Thursday against the Patriots, according to head coach Ron Rivera. It's unclear how much Newton will play in the contest. The 30-year-old is coming off a second straight offseason with right shoulder surgery, and reports out of training camp suggest he has a new throwing motion designed to take pressure and torque off his shoulder. Running back Christian McCaffrey, linebacker Luke Kuechly and tight end Greg Olsen will also play Thursday. Many will be down on Newton based on how his 2018 season ended, but he'll still have plenty of QB1 potential if he's healthy. Newton could be a value as a low-end QB1 this year.
Updating previous reports, San Francisco 49ers S Adrian Colbert (hamstring) and DE Damontre Moore (thumb) will not return to the preseason game Monday, Aug. 19, because of their injuries.
Chicago Bears tight end Adam Shaheen is still working his way up to full speed with three weeks until the regular season begins. The third-year tight end suffered a back injury early on in camp and has been slow to get back into the swing of things. Shaheen has excellent 50/50-ball talent and is a red zone threat but has struggled mightily staying healthy during his short career. The chances of Shaheen making an impact early on in the regular season are getting slimmer by the day.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald is dealing with an unknown ailment that head coach Mike Tomlin calls "day-to-day." While the coach didn't expand on details in his media presser, he didn't seem the slightest bit concerned about it saying, "he'll be fine." Likely just a stinger, it shouldn't keep McDonald out of the team's third preseason game on Sunday against the Titans. McDonald has been getting some serious fantasy hype amongst a relatively barren tight end position. His ADP has crept up and he is going as high as the seventh round in mock drafts. Granted he can stay healthy, he provides a nice mix of safety and upside, compared to guys going around him like Eric Ebron and David Njoku.
Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Drew Lock (hand) and rookie tight end Noah Fant (foot) were both injured in Monday's preseason game against the 49ers and are questionable to return. Lock went 7-for-12 for 40 yards before departing, while Fant caught two passes for seven yards on three targets. Both players will be instrumental to Denver's future, but it remains to be seen how much they'll play in their rookie seasons. Fant has the better chance to be fantasy relevant as Denver attempts to finally get some production from the tight end position. Lock could see some starts at some point if Joe Flacco falters. Both players are most attractive in dynasty/keeper formats in 2019. Stay tuned for more information on their respective injuries.
Washington Redskins running back Derrius Guice (knee) is expected to play in the preseason game against the Falcons on Thursday, but it'll likely be his only preseason action, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Guice tore his ACL and missed his entire rookie season and had several setbacks along the way in his recovery. Washington would like Guice to see most of the backfield touches in his second year, but it remains to be seen if he'll be able to handle that kind of a workload. The 'Skins also have Adrian Peterson, Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson, so they could choose to play it safe with the young back early in the year. Despite the risk, Guice is a worthy investment in the middle rounds.
Chicago Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro will be the team's starting kicker for the final two preseason games after the team released Elliott Fry. Pineiro reportedly converted on 84 percent of his kicks during training camp while Fry kicked at an 81 percent clip. Pineiro is 3-for-4 through the first two preseason games and will handle all of the kicking duties to convince the team he should stick around for Week 1. The Bears do not appear to be committed to Pineiro at all at this time, so look for them to scour the league for available kickers after teams make their final cuts. The Bears kicking situation should be closely monitored all the way up to Week 1 of the 2019 season and avoided in fantasy leagues.
Chicago Bears tight end Trey Burton is confident he will be ready to take on the Packers in Week 1 of the 2019 season. Burton is recovering from sports hernia surgery and has suffered some minor setbacks during training camp. The veteran tight end wasn't happy with his strength when he initially came back and took a week off to get his body right. Burton still has not practiced with the team but hopes to be out there with his teammates September 5 in Chicago. Burton's poor second half in 2018, combined with his current injury situation, pushes the talented tight end out of the top-8 among his position group in fantasy.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said that wide receiver John Ross (hamstring) is set to start practicing as early as Sunday. Ross, 23, has blazing speed but has yet to put it all together in the NFL in his two seasons. Injuries continue to hamper him along the way. He had just 21 catches for 210 yards with seven touchdowns in 13 games last year. The upside remains evident, but most fantasy owners want to see more consistency before they take a chance on him. Consider him worth a late-round flier for receiver depth.
Tennessee Titans kicker Ryan Succop passed his physical and was removed from the Physically Unable to Perform list on Monday. Succop should be ready for the regular season, barring any setbacks. The 32-year-old kicker is in his sixth year with the Titans. He made 26 of his 30 field goal tries last year (86.7 percent) and 28 of his 31 extra points. Succop is an adequate kicker, but Tennessee's run-first offense often stalls due to their lack of a consistent deep threat. Succop can be a decent bye-week filler when the time comes, but you can probably do better with your starting kicker.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller is expected to be questionable to practice this week after injuring his ankle during a practice drill last week. The second-year receiver is also recovering from shoulder surgery, further complicating his possible availability for Week 1. Miller needs reps with quarterback Mitch Trubisky and is missing valuable time. He is not expected to see the field during the preseason but his fantasy value currently is tied to whether Miller is in lock-step with the offense right out of the gate in 2019. Miller has the potential to lead Bears receivers in fantasy points this season but health is a concern moving forward.
Chicago Bears running back/wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is not expected to play in the Bears final two preseason games. Patterson signed with the Bears in the offseason and is expected to play multiple roles in the offense this season. The veteran is expected to return kicks, run deep routes and even pick up a few carries from the backfield. Patterson scored five total touchdowns (one rushing, one returning, three receiving) for the Patriots last season and is expected to be the focal point of some interesting play-calls this season. Patterson's fantasy value is tied to touchdowns but his lack of projected touches makes him unusable in most fantasy formats.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Riley Ridley's professional debut was a success in the Bears second preseason game, catching three passes for 19 yards. But the rookie made positive plays on the field that don't show up in the stat sheet, leading Bears receivers in blocking efficiency during his 28 snaps played. Ridley looked smooth out of his breaks, a step in the right direction after the talented receiver hurt his hamstring early in camp. Rookie pass-catchers often struggle to make an impact right out of the gate so Ridley's value, at this time, is tied solely to dynasty and keeper leagues for the 2019 fantasy season.
Minnesota Vikings kicker Dan Bailey only had a few chances on Sunday night but he made them count, knocking in a 24-yard field goal in the first quarter and an extra point in the third. Newcomer Kaare Vedvik was brought in for an extra point in the fourth quarter, and there's a non-zero chance that the Norway product is gunning for Bailey's job. It seems more likely that Vedvick will serve as the punter, but it's crucial for the Vikings to figure out their special teams situation as it has been a major issue during the Zimmer era. Bailey was a disappointing 21-for-28 (75%) last season - a far cry from his 86.6% career average on field goal attempts. He's currently being taken as the 17th kicker off the board. Keep an eye on this situation as we move through the preseason.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Javon Wims has a strong chance to make the Week 1 roster after catching five passes for 64 yards in the Bears preseason loss. The second-year receiver looks like he belongs out on the field and was the only consistent weapon for the Bears in the second preseason game. Wims has quietly progressed since being drafted but still would be listed as the sixth receiver on the depth chart if he were to make the team. He will have plenty of opportunities to cement his status and should play plenty of snaps in the final two exhibition games.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Taylor Gabriel has not played a single snap in the Bears first two preseason games and isn't expected to see the field until Week 1. The veteran is healthy but coach Matt Nagy is electing to hold all of the starters to practice reps only until the team kicks off the season September 5 against the Packers. Gabriel will provide solid, if unspectacular, bench value in deeper fantasy formats.