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.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Marcell Ateman is fighting for a roster spot in his second season in the NFL. He's currently listed behind Tyrell Williams on the WR2 depth chart, but he's been outplayed throughout most of the preseason by his teammates. With two catches for 33 yards in two preseason contests, Ateman hasn't seen as many looks or gotten as much praise as other receivers so far in camp. He appears to be on the outside looking in as of now, but there is still time for the roster to shake out. Even if Ateman does crack the roster, he won't hold any fantasy relevance in 2019.
Oakland Raiders tight end Foster Moreau is having a strong preseason, but likely won't find much success in the passing game this year. Rookie tight ends are notorious for starting slow offensively, and Moreau will likely follow this trend. With standout Darren Waller thriving as a pass-catcher so far in camp, the Raiders can afford to ease their fourth-round selection into the passing offense. The good news is Moreau has already surpassed veterans Derek Carrier and Luke Willson on the depth chart, but he remains a stash in dynasty formats for now.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn't appear in Saturday night's preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs. This is of no surprise as the 37-year-old has nothing to prove to the team, so they decide to take it easy with him until the third week of the preseason. Roethlisberger led the NFL in attempts, completions, passing yards, and interceptions in 2018, while he also threw a career-high 34 touchdowns. Roethlisberger is a great target if you're waiting until the later rounds for a quarterback, as his ADP finds him routinely going early in the 11th round.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal was dead silent in their Week 2 preseason matchup against the Cleveland Browns. He was targeted twice, and he registered no catches. With the injury to wideout Daurice Fountain, there is a role open for a number of wide receivers to capture. With the performance fellow wide receiver Deon Cain put up, this was not the type of performance that he needed.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron was a touchdown machine last season, and he maintained that performance during the team's Week 2 preseason matchup with the Cleveland Browns. He caught just two passes for 28 yards during his limited work, and one of those two catches was for a touchdown. Regardless of the presence of fellow tight end Jack Doyle, Ebron will continue to have a role especially down in the red zone.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Deon Cain has been showing out throughout training camp. That remained true during the team's Week 2 of the preseason game against the Cleveland Browns. He was their best offensive player with seven catches for 80 yards. Behind wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and Devin Funchess, there is a role available for someone to capture, and Cain is doing his best to make his case. If he's able to maintain similar levels of performance moving forward, he can become a great weapon for this offense.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jordan Wilkins (foot) was expected to miss the team's Week 2 preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, and that remained true. With a cluster of running backs fighting for roles behind the two lead backs of Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines, he needs to get himself back onto the field. As long as he's able to show the consistency we saw from him last year, he should be fine.
Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Tony Pollard led the backfield in Saturday's preseason game, running the ball five times for 42 yards and a touchdown. He added a nine yard catch as well. Pollard got the most carries and yards and the only touchdown among Cowboys running backs. With Ezekiel Elliott possibly on the sidelines for Week 1 or more, Pollard could be in for a couple of RB1 weeks.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott completed all five of his passes in Saturday's preseason game, gaining 64 yards. As expected, Prescott didn't play much but he should get a larger share of at least the first half in the Cowboys dress rehearsal next week. With Ezekiel Elliott far from a sure thing for Week 1, Prescott may have a bit more on his shoulders than expected to start the season.
Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver Diontae Johnson caught three of five targets for 46 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's preseason win over Kansas City. Johnson's touchdown didn't come until the fourth quarter when fellow rookie Devlin Hodges was throwing to him, but Johnson made a spectacular catch in the end zone. The third-round pick from Toledo has been opening eyes in training camp in both offensive drills, as well as in the return game. He doesn't hold any redraft value but his dynasty value has seen a nice tick upward over the preseason.
Tennessee Titans undrafted free agent running back Alex Barnes led all running backs in rushing with seven carries for 42 yards in the team's Week 2 preseason matchup with the New England Patriots. Barnes showed an excellent combination of power and patience in only his second NFL game, but he is still considered a long shot to make the roster. Barnes' impressive combine and preseason showing help his chances at landing on a practice squad if he is cut by the Titans, but he should be considered droppable even in deep dynasty formats.
Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker only played two drives in his first action since Week 1 of the 2018 season, but that was enough for him to catch two passes for 26 yards and a touchdown. It seems Walker and quarterback Marcus Mariota are picking up right where they left off prior to Walker's season-ending injury. Walker remains a solid late-round value pick at tight end, but expect his ADP to start to creep up as we get closer to fantasy draft season.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Donte Moncrief caught one pass for three yards before fumbling in Saturday's preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs. It was the first play of Pittsburgh third drive and Moncrief caught the short pass to the right and was stripped. He only played the first quarter before James Washington saw the majority of the work from there on out. Even after fumbling, the fact that Moncrief only played one quarter means that the team is comfortable with where the veteran is at in his first year with the team. He's batting with Washington to be the second starting wide receiver besides JuJu Smith-Schuster but Moncrief continues to be the favorite to win the job. If he can earn the starting role, his 11th round ADP could prove to be an absolute steal for fantasy owners.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald caught his sole target for five yards on Saturday against the Chiefs. The starting tight end job is all McDonald's now that Jesse James is gone. McDonald is set to improve upon his 2018 season of 60 receptions for 610 yards and four touchdowns. Naturally, he's been climbing up fantasy draft boards recently due to the increase in opportunity. The 29-year-old has jumped into the seventh round of mock drafts and presents great PPR value.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Eli Rogers caught two of his three targets for 31 yards in Saturday's preseason win over Kansas City. The 26-year-old is looking to earn a spot in the offense after missing the majority of 2018 with an injury. However, he earned a start in the final three games and caught 12 passes for 79 yards. Rogers is fighting with Ryan Switzer, Diontae Johnson, and Diontae Spencer for work in the slot this year. Even though Rogers has never truly broken out in his three years with the team, they seem to really see something in him and will likely continue to target him heavily this preseason. Either way, he doesn't hold any fantasy value but could develop into a streamable flex option down the road if he can gain enough chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger.
Houston Texans kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts and 3-for-3 on extra point attempts in Saturday's preseason win over the Detroit Lions. His longest field goal was a 50-yarder. Fairbairn's one of the most promising young kickers in the NFL and has a chance to break into the top tier of fantasy kickers this season based on his accuracy and the opportunities he'll have in Houston's offense. If you're someone who doesn't want to stream kickers, Fairbairn is worth a look.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Ryan Switzer caught his only target for five yards in Saturday's preseason win over the Chiefs. Switzer didn't see any action in the first preseason game but his limited role on Saturday causes some questions about his role on the team. The 24-year-old made his money in the return game last season but with the team's addition of Diontae Johnson and Diontae Spencer, Switzer is going to have to work extra hard to carve out a role on the offense. He's battling both previously mentioned as well as Eli Rogers for the slot position. Regardless, he holds no fantasy value and even if he's on the field he'll likely be the fourth and sometimes fifth best option for Ben Roethlisberger.
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins caught two passes for 17 yards and a touchdown on Houston's first series during Saturday's preseason win over the Detroit Lions. Hopkins continued to show good rapport with quarterback Deshaun Watson and reminded fantasy owners why he's the first wide receiver being drafted in most leagues. Notably, Houston ran a sharp, sped-up offense that could provide Hopkins with additional playmaking opportunities if it carries over to the regular season.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was unable to catch any of his three targets in Saturday's preseason win over Kansas City. The 22-year-old saw his action in the first quarter before sitting the remainder of the evening. Smith-Schuster is the team's top pass catcher and is being targeted in fantasy drafts accordingly. His early-to-mid second round ADP has the chance to provide great value in PPR formats. However, he hasn't scored more than seven touchdowns in his first two season but now that Antonio Brown is out of town, the USC product has a chance at a career year in Pittsburgh.
Houston Texans tight end Jordan Thomas has missed most of training camp and the preseason, but he was active in Saturday's preseason win over the Detroit Lions. Thomas caught two of his five targets for 17 yards and also had a touchdown called back by penalty. Thomas was originally expected to be Houston's top tight end, but he was third on the depth chart on Saturday. How fast he manages to work his way back consistently into the rotation will determine how much -- if any -- fantasy value Thomas will have. For now, he's somewhere in the high TE3 range but with upside to finish as a TE2.