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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
Michael Crabtree Aug 22 1:10am ET

The Arizona Cardinals officially signed free-agent wide receiver Michael Crabtree to a one-year deal on Wednesday. The 31-year-old will have to prove himself to make the roster in the next two weeks, but he does offer some intrigue in head coach Kliff Kingsbury's offense if he sticks around, although he'll have to compete with rookies Andy Isabella and Keesean Johnson. Crabtree will help replace rookie Hakeem Butler (hand), who could miss the rest of the season. The veteran had 54 catches for 607 yards and three touchdowns for Baltimore in 2018. You shouldn't be drafting him in standard leagues, but keep an eye on Crabtree's role if he makes the final squad. Trent Sherfield is also in the fold as well.

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Anthony Miller Aug 22 1:10am ET

Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller (ankle) hasn't practiced since Aug. 10 due to a sprained ankle and also missed most of the team's work at organized team activities and minicamp while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. The 24-year-old has plenty of potential but could start off slow in 2019 because of his lack of practice due to injuries in the offseason. He needs more time to learn the nuances of head coach Matt Nagy's offense and must become more detailed as a route runner. The biggest challenge is the timing with the quarterback, Nagy said Wednesday. Thats the No. 1 challenge. Temper expectations with Miller to begin the season. His fantasy stock is falling, and he's not even a lock to be ready for Week 1.

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Nick Chubb Aug 22 1:00am ET

Cleveland Browns running backs coach Stump Mitchell talked up running back Nick Chubb on Wednesday. "I think hes going to be special like he was last year," said Mitchell. "Hell be used a little more in the passing game than he was last year. Nick just continues to improve on the skillset that he has, and I think he has a fantastic skillset." In a rising offense as the lead back that could see more work catching passes in his second season, Chubb has low-end RB1 appeal. The 23-year-old had 192 carries for 996 yards and eight touchdowns in his rookie season and caught 20 passes for 149 yards and two more scores. Chubb could lose some playing time on passing situations once Kareem Hunt returns from suspension in the second half of the season, but it shouldn't make him any less appealing.

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Justice Hill Aug 22 12:30am ET

Baltimore Ravens rookie running back Justice Hill caught a short pass from quarterback Lamar Jackson and darted upfield, causing two Eagles defenders to collide in Monday's joint practice. Hill is the Ravens leading rusher after the first two weeks of the preseason, amassing 82 yards on 20 carries. According to the Baltimore Beatdown, Hill forced a missed tackle on nine of 12 touches in Baltimore's Week 2 game against Green Bay. Hill's running style is intriguing; he's lightning-fast, he breaks tackles and he can catch the ball well. The first-year back currently sits fourth on the Ravens depth chart and likely won't see a ton of touches at the start of the season, but keep him on your radar toward the end of your drafts. He's being picked up in the 12th round of most drafts and poses as an exciting sleeper to handcuff to Mark Ingram.

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Michael Crabtree Aug 21 11:19pm ET

The Arizona Cardinals are closing in on signing free-agent wide receiver Michael Crabtree, according to sources. The Cards released former first-rounder Kevin White on Wednesday, and it looks like Crabtree is who they'll replace him with. It remains to be seen how Crabtree might fit in head coach Kliff Kingsbury's offense behind Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, but the veteran wideout should make Arizona's offense more versatile and give them another weapon. He had 54 grabs for 607 yards and three touchdowns last year with Baltimore in a run-first offense. Crabtree is a nice red-zone option, but he'll have to battle for targets with rookies Andy Isabella and Keesean Johnson.

Justin Tucker Aug 21 11:00pm ET

Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker has been a top-five fantasy option for the last five years and holds the crown as the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history. "I think we've got an if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it type of situation going on here," Tucker told the media after Tuesday's practice. Drafting a top kicker in your leagues might not win you the championship, but drafting one who has made 89.7 percent of his field goals in his seven seasons will obviously help. If you happen to catch the run for kickers at the right time in your drafts, Tucker is the best kicker you should be looking to target.

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Sam Darnold Aug 21 10:30pm ET

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold had another solid practice Wednesday as he prepared for what will likely be his last preseason action Saturday vs the Saints. Darnold completed 10 of his first 11 passes in team drills Wednesday and also threw four straight touchdowns in red-zone drills, a major area of weakness in his rookie season. Head coach Adam Gase said the starters will play the first half plus one series in the team's third preseason game Saturday so this is the best look fantasy owners will get at the sophomore QB before drafts. Darnold has been having a strong camp and has higher upside than a lot of the other quarterbacks expected to be drafted as backups in fantasy.

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Chris Boswell Aug 21 10:20pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell has had the cards stacked against him this preseason. After hitting just 13 of 20 field goals and only 43 of 48 extra point attempts in 2018, head coach Mike Tomlin was very vocal that he was going to test Boswell this preseason. However, the fifth-year kicker knows there's nothing wrong with a challenge. "It does bring out the best in everybody. Well see where it goes, he said. The team brought in rookie Steven Wright from UCF to challenge Boswell this preseason. However, the incumbent has answered all doubts, hitting both field goal attempts, including a 47 yarder, along with all three extra point attempts. If your fantasy league utilizes kickers, you can leave Boswell in the player pool on draft day, but if he proves he is capable of hitting the necessary kicks, he could be a solid streamer after the first few games.

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Taylor Bertolet Aug 21 10:20pm ET

New York Jets kicker Taylor Bertolet is making a strong first impression on his new team. Bertolet was signed only a few days ago after Chandler Catanzaro abruptly retired but has already made an impression on the team. Bertolet went 4-for-4 on field goals during team drills connecting from 44, 40, and twice from 33 yards away. Bertolet won't be one of the top kickers drafted, but if he keeps this up could be worth a look on a Jets team that finished 30th in the NFL in red-zone conversion rate last season.

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Devin Bush Aug 21 10:10pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier has been impressed with rookie linebacker Devin Bush, who the Steelers traded up to get with the 10th overall pick. "I think he's going to make a lot of splash for us. He's going to be a big-time player for us," Shazier said. Shazier continues to make progress in his recovery from a spinal injury he suffered in 2017, but he will not play this year. Bush is the inside linebacking presence that Pittsburgh needs in order for their defense to return to the elite ranks among the NFL. They have the potential to become fantasy relevant this year, but fantasy owners can probably wait and see.

From RotoBaller

Vance McDonald Aug 21 10:00pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald won't be the full-time tight end, according to offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner. In an interview with Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports.com, the Steelers' OC said "He's never going to play the full game. That's never going to happen." Of course, this could be coach talk and McDonald ends up sees the majority of the time at tight end. His only real competition at the position is Xavier Grimble, who was undrafted out of USC and has just 22 career receptions. Don't look into this too much as the veteran McDonald is without a doubt the top dog at this position in Pittsburgh. His ADP has jumped up into the 7th round, which is fair for a player who should command 80-plus targets this year.

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Jordan Wilkins Aug 21 8:30pm ET

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Aaron Wallace Aug 21 8:23pm ET

Denver Broncos LB Aaron Wallace (hamstring) was waived/injured Wednesday, Aug. 21, according to a source.

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Adam Vinatieri Aug 21 8:20pm ET

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Parris Campbell Aug 21 8:20pm ET

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Geno Smith Aug 21 8:13pm ET

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Trey Quinn Aug 21 7:40pm ET

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Damon Harrison Aug 21 7:40pm ET

The Detroit Lions agreed to a one-year, $11 million extension with defensive tackle Damon Harrison on Wednesday. Snacks Harrison won't do much in the sack column -- he has just nine total sacks in his six years in the league -- but he's most known for being an elite run clogger up the middle with his size (6-foot-3, 353 pounds). The Lions run defense was much improved after they acquired Harrison from the Giants at midseason last year.

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Damon Harrison Aug 21 7:33pm ET

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