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 email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones continued his comeback from a recent injury in practice, leading the team in drills. Jones is yet to play in a preseason game but is widely considered to be the team's starter at the position. Backup Jamaal Williams returned to the field but is unlikely to challenge Jones to start the season. Fantasy owners might want to see Jones in the preseason before they feel his ADP is a good value, but given the situation, he is in, handcuffing him late with Williams is a great option.
Washington Redskins running back Derrius Guice has not played a preseason snap, as he has yet to be cleared for full contact. With the start of the NFL season three weeks away, there is still time for Guice to get on the field, but it's dwindling. The Redskins' third preseason game is in three days against the Falcons. If he is not active, one has to start considering the possibility he'll be looking at a very limited workload when he is declared 100% ready for game action--whenever that is. Guice was already looking at something of a timeshare with Adrian Peterson in Washington's backfield, but the fact that the former has not yet been medically cleared for full-scale football action points toward Peterson getting the bulk early on. Guice is currently going about 40 picks ahead of Peterson in fantasy drafts, per Fantasy Football Calculator.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Deshone Kizer is leading the Packers in first-team reps with Aaron Rodgers struggling with back tightness. While Kizer is unlikely to challenge Rodgers for the starting quarterback position, his performances in camp could affect the perceived value of the surround skill players if Rodgers were to miss time. Kizer was able to connect on a deep pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling in a recent practice and has looked comfortable in the team's new offense in the opening preseason games against the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens. Kizer won't be a consideration for fantasy drafts, but if Rodgers were to miss time could be a streaming option for owners.
Green Bay Packers tight end left a recent practice with an injury, a potential dislocated finger. Graham is the clear option at the position for the team and should be a decent fantasy option for owners that are taking their tight end at the end of drafts. However, Graham struggled with injury last season, and a further injury to his hand could deter fantasy owners from drafting him. If Graham were to miss time, it is unlikely that a combination of Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan or rookie Jace Sternberger are going to be fantasy relevant.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Roberts has primarily made his mark as a punt and kick returner since 2016. He's filled the role for the Lions, Falcons and Jets and this year will be his first season with the Bills. However, the Bills might be looking to get him a little more involved in the passing game as coach Doug McDermott has been encouraged by Roberts' work ethic, giving him some opportunities to run with the first team at practice. He blocked extremely well the other night," McDermott said in reference to practice, "Ran some people off to open up space for our other receivers and you never really hear him say two words about it. He just wants to win. While this revelation might put Roberts somewhere on the fantasy radar, he still has far too many other receivers ahead of him on the depth chart to warrant drafting consideration.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams returned to practice recently, his first since suffering a hamstring injury. The Packers have missed Williams and starter Aaron Jones through injury, but the team is returning to health in the latter part of preseason. Jones is thought to be the starting option for the team, with Williams being the clear backup option. The team drafted rookie Dexter Williams, who could be worth a waiver wire pickup if either player is injured again during camp, but he has stalled with the opportunity to lead the backfield.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling has built on his impressive performances in practice with a great catch and run. Valdes-Scantling broke the coverage from the defense to get wide open, before catching a deep pass from Deshone Kizer for a 60-yard touchdown. The receiver has been impressive throughout camp, showcasing the physical attributes that led to the Packers selecting him last season. Valdes-Scantling is thought to be the second option behind Davante Adams and represents fantastic value for fantasy owners in the mid-rounds.
Veteran Buffalo Bills tight end Lee Smith is currently listed as the second tight end on the team's depth chart, behind the injured Tyler Kroft (foot). Rookie Dawson Knox is listed third, followed by fellow rookie Tommy Sweeney and Jason Croom. Knox and Croom have also been sidelined for much of the offseason with hamstring injuries, leaving Smith and Sweeney as the two most active tight ends on the team. The 31-year-old Smith is primarily a blocking tight end, with only 56 career receptions over 107 games and shouldn't be targeted in fantasy drafts.
Buffalo Bills kicker Steven Hauschka converted four of his five kicks in the team's second preseason game against the Panthers. He hit all three of his extra-point attempts as well as a 30-yard field goal, but missed a 48-yard attempt. Hauschka had his least efficient year since becoming a full-time kicker last season, hitting just 78.6% of his kicks, compared to his career average of 86.4%. He shouldn't be targeted in fantasy drafts as there are many superior kicking options out there.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is being considered day-by-day by head coach Matt LaFleur. LaFleur commented that if it were the regular season that he would be out on the field and that he hoped the tightness won't follow him into the regular season. Rodgers is yet to be put into a game situation in the new offense, but given the quarterbacks, talent level missing some game time may not be the end of the world. However, fantasy owners should consider his injury in their drafts and draft with the thought of injury risk.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown was inactive for the team's second preseason game against the Panthers. The team hasn't disclosed any injury news at this point. Brown has solidified himself as the Bills' top receiver going into the season. He's shown great rapport with quarterback Josh Allen from the start of training camp. Look for him to suit up for the Bills' preseason week three matchup against the Lions on Friday.
Minnesota Vikings rookie tight end Irv Smith Jr. had an impressive night on Sunday, at least as far as preseason games go. Smith Jr. caught all five of his targets for 28 yards and a touchdown, and he looks firmly entrenched as the Vikings top backup option at the tight end spot. It's never a good idea to look too deep into how teams are scheming during the preseason, but it does seem fair to assume that Smith Jr. will be getting some opportunities in the passing game this season. He's more of a dynasty stash this year with Kyle Rudolph still in front of him, but he's probably worth keeping an eye on for ultra-deep leagues. Smith Jr. is currently going undrafted at 301 overall (TE32).
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook was listed as active but didn't see the field on Sunday night against the Seattle Seahawks. Cook was held out of last week's contest as well - the Vikings are being extra cautious with their third-year back during the preseason as he has struggled to stay healthy early in his career. He's an exceptionally talented player and has sneaky top-5 running back potential this season, but he's definitely not for the faint of heart. Cook's being drafted at 17 overall (RB10), which feels about right. Keep an eye on his status for the third preseason game, but don't expect him to play much, if at all.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen was his usual dependable self on Sunday, snagging all three of his targets for 45 yards in limited action with the first-team offense. Thielen made a nice over-the-shoulder grab for 34 yards in the first quarter and drew a pass interference penalty on a deep ball the very next play. Thielen is simply one of the top receivers in the league, breaking out for 1,373 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2018. He also tied the record for consecutive games with 100+ yards receiving with eight, joining Calvin Johnson. Thielen is being drafted at 28 overall (WR11) in points-per-reception formats and is worth a look as a rock-solid WR1 in 2019.
Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback Kirk Cousins was efficient in limited action on Sunday night, going 6-for-8 for 68 yards passing and leading the Vikings to a Dan Bailey 24-yard field goal in the first quarter. Cousins showed nice poise in the pocket and delivered a few beautiful deep balls to Adam Thielen before being pulled after just two drives. The veteran quarterback is entering a crucial second year with the Vikes, and he has the talent and offensive weapons to remain a high-end QB2 and even threaten to crack the QB1 tier in the right matchups. He's currently being drafted as QB16, but that may be underselling his value based on his 2018 production and this year's projections. Look for Cousins and the first-team offense to play much more in the next preseason game on Saturday against the Cardinals.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers claimed wide receiver Emanuel Hall off of waivers earlier this week. Hall had been with the Bears earlier but could not make it through camp. The Buccaneers present a solid opportunity given their lack of depth beyond starters Mike Evans and Chris Godwin along with Hall's fit in their new offense. Although Hall is unlikely to make much of an impact in 2019, he could be a solid project for head coach Bruce Arians to groom.
It appears Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown has not gotten over his ongoing helmet issue as hes left the teams training camp once again. General manager Mike Mayock showed his frustration Sunday by saying it's time for him to be all-in or all-out." Brown submitted his old helmet in for testing, which it failed, and hes now left the team with no information on when, or if, hell return. The Raiders believe his frostbitten feet issues are behind him and hes healthy enough to practice, but they can only hope the seven-time Pro Bowler suits up for Week 1. Browns red flags make him a player to fade in the second round despite his immense talent.
Oakland Raiders WR Antonio Brown wasn't at practice Sunday, Aug. 18, because he's upset about his ongoing helmet issue with the NFL. General manager Mike Mayock said the team has 'exhausted all avenues' and it's time for Brown to be 'all in or all out.'
Fantasy Spin: And we're right back to square one with AB. While he's indisputably one of the best receivers in fantasy football, there's once again a legitimate chance he sits out the entire season, or more. He's far too risky to draft in the first round.
The Philadelphia Eagles released veteran LB Paul Worrilow Sunday, Aug. 18.
New England Patriots WR Josh Gordon was placed on the Non-Football Injury list Sunday, Aug. 18, upon his conditional reinstatement.
Fantasy Spin: It's largely a procedural move for the Patriots while Gordon is brought up to speed. He remains one of the most tantalizing fantasy prospects at wide receiver, but his off-field issues continue to carry immense risk when drafting him.