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.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk only caught two of his six targets for five yards, including a dropped pass Saturday against the Minnesota Vikings. The upside though was that Kirk was second in targets for the afternoon. Even though the Cardinals' offense this preseason has been very bland, there is too much talent and too much upside to be ignored. Expect Kirk and this offense to light it up this season and he will come in as a nice WR2/3. With his poor showings this preseason, now might be a good time to buy Kirk at his lowest in dynasty formats.
Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds put in a strong performance Saturday afternoon against the Vikings, rushing three times for 13 yards and hauling in both of his two targets for 24 yards. Edmonds continues to be a top handcuff to own in the fantasy world and would be a solid weekly starter if something were to happen to David Johnson. With starters likely resting for the fourth and final preseason game, look for Edmonds to get his fair share of touches against the Denver Broncos.
New York Jets running back Ty Montgomery carried the ball eight times for 21 yards and caught all four of his targets for 24 yards and a touchdown against the Saints on Saturday. Montgomery has been the Jets most productive running back so far with Le'Veon Bell not playing preseason games. The former wide receiver finishes the preseason with 67 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown running to go along with five catches. He should be considered the primary backup to Bell with some PPR value in deep leagues as he should see plenty of work on passing downs.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold went 8-for-13 for 97 yards and a touchdown in the team's third preseason game on Saturday. Darnold's night was highlighted by a 41-yard strike to Robby Anderson and a 2-yard touchdown pass to Ty Montgomery against the Saints backups. It wasn't all good for Darnold as the offense looked sloppy with three of their five starting offensive linemen out of the game leading to several hits on the sophomore QB. Darnold finishes the preseason 17-25 for 211 yards and most importantly no interceptions. The Jets hired an offensive-minded coach and upgraded the weapons around Darnold going into his second NFL season. He should be drafted in all two quarterback leagues and is a backup with upside in standard leagues.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith was held without a catch in his team's third preseason game against the New York Jets on Saturday. Smith was targeted just once in the game. Smith finishes the preseason with two catches for 17 yards in two games played. The second-year wideout will look to take a big step forward this year after a solid rookie season which saw him catch 28 balls for 427 yards and five scores. Smith is still behind target hogs Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara but he also plays for one of the top offenses in the league. That makes him worth selecting toward the end of fantasy drafts this season.
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Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett has become the starting quarterback. Star quarterback Andrew Luck informed the team of his intention to retire from the NFL. Luck, who has been dealing with injuries this offseason, told the team after reportedly multiple weeks of mulling the decision. Brissett gives the team some running ability, and he showed some flashes during his time as the starter back in 2017. He obviously doesn't have the same ceiling as Luck, but he has gotten all of the first-team reps throughout training camp. He should be ready to go with a full arsenal of weapons when the season starts.
New York Jets running back Bilal Powell was getting snaps with the starters during the team's preseason game with the Saints on Saturday. Powell is clearly ahead of Elijah McGuire for the role of primary backup according to Manish Mehta. Starting running back Le'Veon Bell was not playing in the game but head coach Adam Gase has said they will not give Bell the astronomical number of touches he got in Pittsburgh. Powell won't have much fantasy value on draft day but has proved a usable fantasy back in the past including a 58 reception season in 2016. If Gase does limit Bell's touches then Powell could provide some PPR value as a passing-down back.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas caught both of his targets for 39 yards and a touchdown in his team's third preseason game against the New York Jets on Saturday. Thomas played on just the first offensive drive of the game but he made his presence felt in that short period of time. His touchdown came on a 19-yard pass from Drew Brees in which a closely-covered Thomas jumped up and snatched the ball out of the air near the right corner of the end zone. Among the most efficient receivers in the game, Thomas is a locked-in WR1 in fantasy and worthy of selecting toward the end of the first round.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has informed the team that he intends to retire from the NFL, citing that the mental aspects of the game have worn him down. Luck's dealt with a variety of injuries over the past few seasons and was already looking like he'd miss the start of the 2019 season with a leg injury, but to see a player with Luck's skill call it quits before the age of 30 is a huge shock. Jacoby Brissett is Indianapolis' starting quarterback now, and while he's got the potential to be a top-20 fantasy quarterback, you can go ahead and downgrade this entire offense from a fantasy perspective. Running back Marlon Mack is likely the least affected, but TY Hilton's value falls tremendously as he's struggled when a quarterback who wasn't Luck has been throwing the ball.
Adam Schefter is reporting Andrew Luck has informed the Colts he is retiring from the NFL, per source. There will be a press conference Sunday to make it official, but Luck is mentally worn down, and now checking out.
Detroit Lions running back Mark Thompson had eight carries for 34 yards and a touchdown along with one catch for 5 yards in Week 3 of the preseason against the Buffalo Bills. Thompson is battling for a roster spot and Friday night's outing will certainly help. However, Thompson falls below four other running backs and even if he makes the roster will likely not see many touches, if any. Thompson has no fantasy value.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Danny Amendola has been struggling with an undisclosed injury but was able to catch three of four targets for 30 yards on Friday night in the Lion's third preseason game against the Bills. Amendola remains below wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones on the depth chart so his workload could remain somewhat limited throughout the season. However, Amendola is an excellent slot receiver and having 10+ catches in a game or two throughout the season is not out of the question. Amendola has much more value in full PPR leagues.
Detroit Lions running back Ty Johnson continues to prove that he deserves the third spot on the Lions running back depth chart. Johnson rushed four times for just nine yards and had one catch for 11 yard against the Bills in Week 3 of preseason but he showed off his lethal speed. Johnson is a player to keep an eye on; right now, he is totally off fantasy radar but if Kerryon Johnson or C.J. Anderson go down with an injury, Ty Johnson could begin to make an impact.
Detroit Lions running back Zach Zenner had just four carries for 21 yards in the Lions third preseason game against the Bills. It appears that Zenner will likely fall behind running back Ty Johnson on the depth chart, into the fourth position. Regardless, Zenner is a talented special team player and should still make the final squad. Zenner is not fantasy relevant.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston was scrambling for his life most of the night in the preseason game against the Browns on Friday, but he managed to continue building chemistry with wide receiver Chris Godwin, hooking up with him four times for 52 yards. Winston finished 9-for-19 for 88 yards and a 60.9 passer rating. He scrambled well and didn't make bad decisions or risky throws, which is what he needs to cut out of his game in a contract year. Winston has all the things in place to have his best season to date in head coach Bruce Arians' offense, making him a low-end QB1/high-end backup for fantasy owners. Godwin should see heavy targets as well, making him a popular breakout candidate in 2019.
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Indianapolis Colts RB D'Onta Foreman (biceps) was waived from the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Aug. 24, after the two sides reached an injury settlement.
Houston Texans RB Lamar Miller (leg) was carted off the field after suffering an apparent leg injury during the preseason game Saturday, Aug. 24.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to monitor the situation to determine the severity of Miller's injury. Duke Johnson likely would take over the starting job if Miller misses an extended period of time and could be a No. 2 running back in all fantasy leagues.
Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller was carted off the field after a first quarter hit in Saturday's preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys. Miller hadn't played in a preseason game before this one. A Pro Bowler last year, Miller is expected to see the bulk of Houston's offensive touches this year with Duke Johnson coming in on passing downs, but a potentially serious knee injury would lead to huge changes in this Houston offense. Monitor the situation over the next few days.