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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

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
Chester Rogers Aug 9 10:00am ET

With both Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson opting out of the 2020 NFL season, the Miami Dolphins needed help at wide receiver. They got that help on Sunday, signing former Colts wide receiver Chester Rogers. Rogers won't set the world on fire, but he did have 53 catches for 485 yards in 2018 before dropping off last season. He's clearly not competing with DeVante Parker and Preston Williams for the top roles in Miami, but he could carve out a role as the team's No. 3 receiver. That's probably not a fantasy relevant role, but he could be worth a late pick in best ball formats just in case.

From RotoBaller

T.J. Hockenson Aug 9 10:00am ET

Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson has been activated from the league's reserve/COVID-19 list. A good amount of Detroit's offense was put on the list, including quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Kenny Golladay, but all have been removed, so the Lions offense should be back to normal now. Unless we hear otherwise, we can assume Hockenson is healthy and that he should be drafted as a high-end TE2 with plenty of upside. He's a potential candidate for a big second-year breakout.

From RotoBaller

Jarvis Landry Aug 8 5:10pm ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (hip) was activated from the active/PUP list on Saturday. Landry opened the preseason on the PUP list after having hip surgery back on February 4. The veteran wide receiver is trending up as the team gets ready to start practicing in the next week. Landry caught 83 passes for 1, 174 yards and six touchdowns last season. Look for him to return low-end WR2 value in PPR leagues in 2020.

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Kenjon Barner Aug 8 9:53am ET

Free-agent RB Kenjon Barner (Falcons) is visiting the Baltimore Ravens and beginning the testing process Saturday, Aug. 8.

From TheHuddle

Jakeem Grant Aug 8 9:23am ET

Miami Dolphins WR Jakeem Grant has an opportunity for playing time with WRs Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns opting out.

Fantasy Spin: The absences vault Preston Williams and Grant into the starting lineup, potentially, and Grant could be in the slot. Williams has more upside of the two, but he's coming off an ACL tear. Grant is a WR5 candidate that will need a good camp to hold a final roster spot in fantasy.

From TheHuddle

Derrius Guice Aug 7 11:30pm ET

The Washington Football Team has released running back Derrius Guice following a domestic abuse arrest. The oft-injured Guice was expected to be the lead back for Washington's running back committee this year, but the release obviously changes everything in Washington. Veteran running back Adrian Peterson should now see the bulk of the carries, while rookie Antonio Gibson gets chances on passing downs. Gibson gets a boost in dynasty leagues after Guice's release, while Peterson is now a viable top-100 pick in virtually all re-draft leagues. As for Guice, his arrest could be the end of his disappointing NFL career. He's off the radar in redraft and becomes borderline rosterable in dynasty.

From RotoBaller

Mike Williams Aug 7 11:13pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers WR Mike Williams' ability to catch contested passes has QB Tyrod Taylor excited, and Taylor said that 50-50 balls are 'more like 70-30 or 80-20' balls when throwing to Williams.

Fantasy Spin: Although he scored just twice, Williams is coming off a 2019 season when he set career highs in catches and yards and led the NFL with 20.4 yards per reception. Losing Philip Rivers at quarterback isn't ideal, but Williams' big-play ability allows him to turn a couple of catches into a big performance. He is still worth grabbing as a WR3.

From TheHuddle

Jerick McKinnon Aug 7 10:30pm ET

San Francisco 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon has been one of the more impressive players at training camp, according to Cam Inman of The Mercury News. In particular, McKinnon's route running out of the backfield has looked crisp. It is welcomed news for the 28-year-old, as he has missed the entirety of the past two seasons with injuries. McKinnon may be able to carve out a role for himself as a pass-catching, third-down back, but he has to battle Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman for touches. If McKinnon continues his strong play, the 49ers backfield may become even more of a headache for fantasy owners.

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Brandin Cooks Aug 7 9:43pm ET

Houston Texans WR Brandin Cooks said he has 'zero' concerns about his concussion history. 'For me, I'm not worried at all,' said Cooks. 'If there is any hesitation or worry, I wouldn't be here right now.'

Fantasy Spin: While Cooks may not be concerned, fantasy owners have to be a little worried if Cooks will be available for a full season. He has delivered WR2 production for a majority of his career, but between the concussion issues and changing teams over the offseason, he is a more palatable option as a WR3.

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Jerick McKinnon Aug 7 9:33pm ET

San Francisco 49ers RB Jerick McKinnon (knee) has looked sharp catching passes out of the backfield during training camp, according to QB Jimmy Garoppolo. 'Even just throwing routes on air this offseason, he runs them differently than most running backs and he has a feel that's like a receiver, but he feels space like a quarterback,' Garoppolo said.

Fantasy Spin: McKinnon has missed consecutive seasons while recovery from a knee injury, but he will rejoin the backfield in 2020. It sounds like he could carve out a role on passing downs, but for now, he is a late-round flier in PPR formats, at best.

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Logan Ryan Aug 7 8:13pm ET

Free-agent CB Logan Ryan (Titans) could receive interest from the New York Giants, in the opinion of ESPN.com's Jordan Raanan.

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Dallas Cowboys DE Tyrone Crawford (hip) and DT Dontari Poe (quadriceps) do not have timetables for when they will be able to be activated from the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list, according to head coach Mike McCarthy.

From TheHuddle

Derrius Guice Aug 7 7:23pm ET

Washington Football Team RB Derrius Guice was released Friday, Aug. 7.

Fantasy Spin: Guice likely will not receive much interest from other teams because of the arrest, but fantasy players can keep an eye on the situation. Adrian Peterson likely will handle most of the carries for Washington this season and can be at least a No. 3 running back in standard fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Calvin Ridley Aug 7 7:00pm ET

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From RotoBaller

Joe Mixon Aug 7 6:23pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals RB Joe Mixon may receive a bigger role in the passing game this season, according to offensive coordinator Brian Callahan.

Fantasy Spin: Mixon will see plenty of carries in the running game but may be a popular target for Joe Burrow out of the backfield. Mixon should already be considered a starting running back in all fantasy leagues but more catches would increase his value.

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Willie Snead Aug 7 6:13pm ET

Baltimore Ravens WR James Proche is considered the leading candidate for the punt returner job this season. WR Willie Snead and Marquise Brown are also options for the job.

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Kenny Stills Aug 7 5:13pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: It is not known how long Stills will be sidelined, but he does not appear to be in danger of missing the start of the season. His role may be smaller this season since the team added Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb during the offseason. Fantasy players in most leagues probably can avoid Stills in drafts.

From TheHuddle

Vic Beasley Aug 7 4:43pm ET

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