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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
O.J. Howard Aug 17 7:44am ET

Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard was targeted twice and hauled in one catch for 16 yards Friday against the Dolphins. This was only the second game of the preseason which makes sense as to why he was not heavily involved ankle injury cut his 2018 short and the last thing Tampa wants is for him to get hurt again in meaningless preseason games. Howard did not play in week one as he is presumably one of the Buccaneers' premier players. He absolutely is worth his round five ADP at the moment due to his performance last season, presence of Bruce Arians, and the load of targets available with the departures of Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling Aug 17 7:40am ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling has been finding it tough to make an impact in the preseason. However, the stories coming out of training camp mean that fantasy owners shouldn't be too worried about that. Valdes-Scantling has been touted as the second option in the Packers offense, behind Davante Adams. The Packers offense is thought to be on the up under Matt LaFleur's leadership, and so there should be plenty of opportunities to be fantasy relevant. In the mid-rounds, Valdes-Scantling is a great value for fantasy owners.

From RotoBaller

Jace Sternberger Aug 17 7:30am ET

Green Bay Packers tight end Jace Sternberger is still yet to see any significant time on the field for the team. The Packers have incumbent veteran Jimmy Graham as the starting tight end, who has impressed this offseason. However, Robert Tonyan has been making improvements in offseason and could challenge Sternberger as the pass-catching tight end on the roster. Sternberger is unlikely to be fantasy relevant this season, especially if he continues to miss time through injury.

From RotoBaller

Kareem Hunt Aug 17 7:20am ET

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt could see "meaningful action" during Saturday's preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts. Hunt struggled with a groin injury early in camp and did not take the field last Thursday in the team's preseason opener against Washington. Hunt saw a lot of reps in this past Thursday's practice and only has limited preseason time to get acclimated to the offense before his eight-game suspension begins. It will be worth monitoring how the team uses Hunt in the offense on Saturday against the Colts.

From RotoBaller

Jake Kumerow Aug 17 7:10am ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jake Kumerow has been impressing in preseason so far. In doing so, Kumerow has really put his case forward to be the next man up if any of the starting trio of receivers miss time in the season. Kumerow has really developed over the past season and has strengthened his rapport with starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers. While he is unlikely to be drafted by fantasy owners this season, he is certainly a player to monitor for waiver wire pickup.

From RotoBaller

Dexter Williams Aug 17 7:00am ET

Green Bay Packers running back Dexter Williams has a chance to make an impact this season. Fellow running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have struggled with fitness during the offseason and are yet to take the field. Dexter Williams may have fumbled in the preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, but given the struggles of the other players in camp- Williams should be set to be the next man up in the new offense in Green Bay.

From RotoBaller

Equanimeous St. Brown Aug 17 7:00am ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown is more likely to be cut than make a real impact on the field this season. St.Brown entered camp potentially looking to challenge Marquez Valdes-Scantling for the third receiver spot on the Packers offense, but that has not been the case. St. Brown has been limited in the preseason games that have been played so far and didn't get a single reception and only one target in the teams recent loss to Baltimore Ravens. Jake Kumerow looks to be the next player up if either of the starting trio miss time, meaning St. Brown is currently buried on the Packers depth chart

From RotoBaller

Ndamukong Suh Aug 17 4:30am ET

This is fairly obvious given how poor the Bucs' defense has been over the past few seasons, but is still worth pointing out even with the Bucs' additions throughout the offseason. They essentially replaced Gerald McCoy with Ndamukong Suh, Kwon Alexander with Devin White, and upgraded their secondary with several mid-round defensive backs, however, none of this will make much of a difference. The Bucs still do not possess much of an edge presence, they have no high-end secondary talent, and they lost last season's first-round pick, Vita Vea, to injury again for a chunk of the regular season. Avoid them even in deeper leagues unless they miraculously gel the first month or have a string of poor opposing offenses lined up.

From RotoBaller

Andre Ellington Aug 17 4:20am ET

Buccaneers running back Andre Ellington has carried the ball 10 times for just 24 yards and caught five passes for 20 yards throughout these past two preseason games. On top of disappointing yardage totals, he also fumbled away the ball on Friday against Miami. Ellington's disappointing showing thus far could play into whether he makes the team or not. However, his connection to Bruce Arians from his Cardinals days might give him some leeway. Ellington is not fantasy relevant this season outside of some extraordinary circumstances.

From RotoBaller

Kevin Hogan Aug 17 2:43am ET

Denver Broncos QB Kevin Hogan is 'absolutely' still in competition for the backup job with QB Drew Lock, according to offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello; Lock has received the majority of the second-team reps during practice this past week.

From TheHuddle

Cole Beasley Aug 17 2:30am ET

Signed as a free agent this past offseason, former Cowboy Cole Beasley is becoming one of QB Josh Allen's favorite targets, with Beasley catching all five of his targets for 44 yards in a game that Buffalo would eventually win 27-14. With Zay Jones, John Brown, and Robert Foster not playing, Beasley made it look easy on Buffalo's first drive of the game, hauling in four catches on the way to a Bills' field goal. Allen had a 70% completion-rate on passes under nine yards last season, which is the part of the zone in which Beasley usually works, leaving some to wonder whether the pairing could set the 30-year old veteran to return monster value, as he currently has a throwaway 259 ADP in NFBC

From RotoBaller

Mike Evans Aug 17 2:20am ET

Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans was targeted just once Friday and ended the game without posting any stats. Evans did not dress for last week's preseason game but saw the field just a bit against Miami. He probably sees more than one drive next week given that the third week of preseason is historically the closest thing to full exposure teams provide prior to week one of the regular season. Mike Evans is Mike Evans, he is a reliable producer who could have an even better year if Jameis Winston takes a step forward. A great pick in the late-second/early-third.

From RotoBaller

Devin Singletary Aug 17 2:10am ET

A popular sleeper pick so far in 2019, Buffalo rookie Devin Singletary couldn't build on his success from the Bills' first preseason game, as Buffalo defeated Carolina 27-14 in Friday night's preseason action. Singletary only carried the ball twice this week, collecting just six yards but did add 25 yards receiving on three catches, while being targeted five times, mostly by backup quarterback Matt Barkley. While his breakout potential is intriguing, Singletary is in a crowded backfield with LeSean McCoy and will have to earn his touches where he can.

From RotoBaller

LeSean McCoy Aug 17 2:00am ET

Perennially injured Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy played the first two possessions of Buffalo's 27-14 preseason victory over the Panthers on Friday. McCoy rushed four times for only six yards, adding 11 receiving yards on two catches and left the game after scoring a touchdown on his final present. With the presence of backup Frank Gore as well as rookie Devin Singletary -who's being drafted five spots before McCoy - and given his constant injury concerns, McCoy is a riskier pick, even with a 134 NFBC ADP.

From RotoBaller

Mack Hollins Aug 17 1:50am ET

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Mack Hollins is likely to play a depth role in 2019 if he makes it on the final roster. Buried on the depth chart behind at least Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Hollins will appear on special teams a lot more often than he does on offense. It'll take at least a pair of injuries for Hollins to develop a meaningful fantasy role in 2019.

From RotoBaller

Charles Johnson Aug 17 1:50am ET

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Charles Johnson is on the outside looking in for a roster spot in 2019. Johnson excelled in the AAF as part of the Orlando Apollos and looked promising on the Vikings in 2014, but he's already 30 and buried on the depth chart. Behind at least Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, and rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Johnson will have to beat out Mack Hollins, Braxton Miller, and several others to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.

From RotoBaller

Josh Allen Aug 17 1:50am ET

Second-year quarterback Josh Allen took another step forward in Buffalo's second preseason game, a 27-14 victory over Carolina. Allen looked sharp from the jump, completing seven of nine passes for 103 yards, leading scoring drives in the only two possessions he played. Of those seven completions, five were to new Buffalo receiver Cole Beasley, including four in the first drive of the game. Currently being drafted as the 22nd quarterback by NFBC ADP, Allen could leverage his big arm and running ability to a breakout fantasy year, as the only player in 2018 who had more 25+ yard runs than Allen's seven was Saquon Barkley.

From RotoBaller

Wendell Smallwood Aug 17 1:50am ET

Philadelphia Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood could be left off the final roster before the season begins. Smallwood set a career high in touches last season, but he was average at best. With the Eagles drafting Miles Sanders and trading for Jordan Howard, Smallwood was pushed down the depth chart and will need to compete with Josh Adams and Donnel Pumphrey for the last spot in the running back room. It'll likely come down to who looks best on special teams in the remaining preseason games.

From RotoBaller

Josh Adams Aug 17 1:40am ET

Philadelphia Eagles running back Josh Adams might not make the final Eagles roster this season. Adams led the team in rushing last season after joining the team as an undrafted rookie, but shoulder surgery combined with the additions of Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard have left Adams on the outside looking in. Sanders, Howard, Corey Clement, and Darren Sproles are all essentially locks for the roster, so Adams could find himself competing with Wendell Smallwood and Boston Scott for the last spot on the running back depth chart. Both of those backs provide value on special teams that Adams doesn't.

From RotoBaller

Darren Sproles Aug 17 1:40am ET

Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles should have a somewhat consistent role in 2019. He'll work on special teams as a returner, but should also see playing time on offense, splitting passing downs with Corey Clement. Sproles and Clement will eat into one another's fantasy value, but either back would be a solid option if the other were to go down. Sproles should have more value in leagues that count return yards, but at age 36, he's certainly an injury risk.

From RotoBaller