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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
Julio Jones Aug 23 8:00am ET

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones was once again inactive for the team's fourth preseason game against the Redskins Thursday night. Jones is currently attempting to renegotiate his contract with the team, a bit of a standoff that has lasted several months now as Jones seeks a Michael Thomas-like deal. Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley served as the team's top two receiving targets for Matt Ryan on Thursday night, but only saw a total of five targets. It appears as if Jones and the Falcons are getting close to reaching a deal so Jones can still be targeted high in fantasy drafts as one of the top receivers off the board.

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Devonta Freeman Aug 23 8:00am ET

It was a brief outing for Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman on Thursday. His only action came on the team's opening drive, when he rushed the ball twice for three yards while adding a six-yard reception. Freeman had a nine-yard rush on the first play of the game, but it was called back on a holding penalty. Head coach Dan Quinn had hinted that Freeman would see more action in Thursday's game, but apparently one drive was all Quinn thought Freeman needed. Freeman has a great opportunity to have a big, bounce-back year now that he enters the season healthy and the team no longer has Tevin Coleman to split carries with him.

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Matt Ryan Aug 23 7:50am ET

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan played the entire first half of Thursday's game against the Redskins. He completed nine of 14 passes for 74 yards and had two rushes for nine yards. It was a conservative game for Ryan, who was without his top receiver Julio Jones. Ryan will have a great arsenal at his disposal when Jones rejoins the team. Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu are solid secondary receivers behind Jones and Ryan will also welcome back Devonta Freeman, who missed 14 games last year. Ryan's a great quarterback to target in fantasy drafts after the top few quarterbacks are off the board.

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Josh Malone Aug 23 6:30am ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Josh Malone pulled in two receptions for 11 yards and a touchdown during Thursday's loss to the Giants, connecting on a 2-yard pass from quarterback Jacob Dolegala with over two minutes left in the fourth. While Malone continues to fight for a meaningful spot, his 11 targets during the preseason would suggest that there is a place for him in the lineup, especially early on with the injuries to A.J. Green (foot), John Ross (hamstring), and Trayveon Williams (foot), with their return dates being unknown at the moment.

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Mason Crosby Aug 23 6:10am ET

Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby hit both of his extra-point attempts in the preseason matchup against the Oakland Raiders. Crosby has been leading the kicking matchup with Sam Ficken throughout camp. Ficken converted his single point after attempt too. At this point, the veteran has certainly edged ahead and is likely to take the spot on the roster.

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Ryan Finley Aug 23 6:10am ET

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Andy Dalton Aug 23 6:00am ET

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton went 7-for-10 for 104 yards and a touchdown during Thursday's preseason loss to the Giants. While the first two drives for Dalton resulted in punts, the 31-year-old connected on a 26-yard pass to tight end C.J. Uzomah late in the first quarter before calling it a night. As Dalton continues to become familiar with the offensive schemes of new head coach Zac Taylor, backup Ryan Finley has been solid throughout the preseason while also outplaying the veteran, compiling 414 yards and three touchdowns on 47-for-64 passing. Though Dalton is slated to start the season as the team's main signal-caller, Finley could have his number called at some point if the team begins to struggle.

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Rashan Gary Aug 23 6:00am ET

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Jimmy Graham Aug 23 5:50am ET

Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham missed the preseason encounter against the Oakland Raiders, due to issues with the field. Graham was one of a number of starters who sat on the sidelines. Graham may have been limited, regardless of the field, due to a finger injury that he picked up in training. However, the veteran tight end has impressed in training camp and could be a great late-round pickup for fantasy owners.

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Jace Sternberger Aug 23 5:50am ET

Green Bay Packers tight end Jace Sternberger missed the preseason encounter against the Oakland Raiders, due to issues with the field. Sternberger was one of a number of starters who sat on the sidelines. Sternberger may have been limited, regardless of the field, due to his limited involvement in practice through injury. The rookie tight end has impressed in training camp and could be a good dynasty stash, or a waiver wire pickup if Jimmy Graham misses time.

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Equanimeous St. Brown Aug 23 5:40am ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown suffered an apparent serious injury during the matchup against the Raiders. St. Brown caught one of his four targets for seven yards. However, St. Brown was limited after he suffered an injury to his leg and ankle area. With the other players ahead of him, it's more likely that St. Brown is a cut candidate than someone with fantasy value this season.

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Jake Kumerow Aug 23 5:40am ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jake Kumerow scored a touchdown in the preseason encounter against the Oakland Raiders. Kumerow finished the game catching two of his four targets for 20 yards and a single touchdown. Kumerow has had a string of impressive performances in training camp and preseason and looks to have won the battle to be the next man up. Kumerow is unlikely to be drafted by fantasy owners but could be a great waiver wire add during the season.

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Rodney Anderson Aug 23 5:40am ET

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Trevor Davis Aug 23 5:30am ET

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Allen Lazard Aug 23 5:30am ET

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Giovani Bernard Aug 23 5:30am ET

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Davante Adams Aug 23 5:20am ET

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Marquez Valdes-Scantling Aug 23 5:20am ET

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Tra Carson Aug 23 5:10am ET

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