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 kicker Daniel Carlson lifted his team past the Green Bay Packers in Thursdays Week 3 preseason contest. On an 80-yard shortened field in Winnipeg, Carlson didnt have any problems kicking on the questionable turf nailing all three field goals including the game-winner from 33 yards out with eight seconds remaining. His other two kicks went for 40 and 42 yards, keeping his perfect preseason kicking percentage intact. The 2018 fifth-rounder was given the boot after Week 2 by the Vikings last season, but the Raiders have reaped the benefits of his new team-record 94% success rate since picking him up for the final 10 games of 2018. On this improving offense, Carlson could hold sneaky fantasy value for fantasy footballs most overlooked position.
New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon is getting a significant amount of work this training camp as head coach Adam Gase made it clear he wants the sophomore tight end to be ready when his suspension is up. Gase wouldn't even rule Herndon out for the team's fourth preseason game, a rarity for NFL starters. The league hasn't decided if Herndon can be around the Jets practice facility during the suspension, but Herndon said he has a trainer lined up just in case to make it as game-like as possible to stay sharp if he needs to be away from the team. Herndon caught 39 of 56 targets last season for 502 yards and was a favorite target of Sam Darnold on third down and in the red zone. The sophomore tight end won't be available until week 6, but he is a great stash candidate in deep leagues if you miss out on a top-flight tight end.
Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Ryquell Armstead played in his first preseason game on Thursday as the Jaguars lost to the Miami Dolphins and...it didn't go so well. Armstead had 18 rushing yards on eight carries and caught three passes, but finished with negative receiving yardage. As long as Alfred Blue (ankle) is out, Armstead is the number-two back in Jacksonville, but this is clearly Leonard Fournette's backfield, and head coach Doug Marrone would likely look to a healthy Blue first should Fournette deal with an injury. Armstead can be ignored in re-draft leagues.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Marcell Ateman caught one of his four targets for 19 yards in Thursdays preseason game versus the Packers. Hes now caught one pass in each of the teams first three exhibition contests, racking up a total of 52 yards. Ateman hasnt impressed all that much so far this preseason and has been getting outplayed by the rest of the wide receiving corps. His roster spot could be in jeopardy, although he wouldnt carry any fantasy value if he made the squad regardless.
Atlanta Falcons running back Qadree Ollison was extremely active in Thursday's preseason game against the Redskins, carrying the ball 12 times for 42 yards, good for 3.5 yards per carry. Ollison has gotten a lot of run this preseason. He led the team in both carries and rushing yards in the Falcons' previous outing against the Jets with nine rushes for 44 yards. The rookie fifth round pick will likely be third on the team's depth chart at running back to start the season behind Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith. He isn't worth drafting in standard leagues but in deep dynasty formats, he's worth keeping an eye on.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel finished with two receptions for 16 yards during Thursdays loss to the New York Giants. The 23-year-old was targeted three times on the night and outproduced most of the receivers on the roster, including D.J. Moore, who caught only one pass for three yards. He continues to look impressive and could end up surpassing Moore in production despite being listed as the No. 2 option on the teams depth chart. Fantasy managers will want to grab him earlier in drafts as he has been a popular fantasy option thus far, especially in the sixth or seventh rounds, depending on league size.
Washington Redskins running back Derrius Guice finally got onto the field in the team's third preseason game Thursday, and he showed fantasy owners what they've been looking for. He rushed 11 times for 44 yards and hauled in his only target. Simply having been medically cleared to participate is a massive step in the right direction for Guice's early-season fantasy value, but to see him perform well in his first live game action since tearing his ACL is the icing on the cake. This backfield is still best viewed as a timeshare, with veteran Adrian Peterson still hanging around. The Redskins will almost certainly avoid putting too much on Guice out of the gate. His value for the first few weeks, while positive, could be capped by limited volume.
Atlanta Falcons running back Ito Smith was one of the lone bright spots in an otherwise underwhelming offensive display for the Falcons on Thursday. In a game where the team totalled just 80 passing yards and seven points, Smith had five carries for 23 yards and a touchdown and also added a nine-yard reception. Lead running back Devonta Freeman played only one drive in the game before giving way to Smith. With Freeman being healthy to enter the season, Smith doesn't have much intrigue as a fantasy target. He probably won't be seeing much more than about five touches per game out of the gate and can be left undrafted in standard fantasy leagues.
Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson carried the ball three times for 20 yards on Thursday night, with a 16-yard scamper accounting for most of that total. He was also targeted three times in the passing game, hauling in two of them. It's not much, but just about any usage at all was going to be more encouraging than what he did last week: one carry, negative-one yard rushing, zero targets. Thompson's fantasy value stems entirely from his role in Washington's passing game, as Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson will handle the lion's share of the ground attack. He's still probably best left alone outside of deeper PPR leagues, but his involvement in Washington's third preseason game may have reopened some eyes.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey made his preseason debut in the loss to the Patriots, finishing the night with 16 yards on three carries to go along with one reception (two targets) for 10 yards. With the team looking to monitor its star backs workload, McCaffrey may not suit up for the teams preseason finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers, especially after quarterback Cam Newton left this one in a walking boot. He arguably will remain the top overall fantasy pick in all drafts, regardless if he sees any more action this preseason.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Justin Hardy was the team's receiving yards leader on Thursday and all it took was one catch. Hardy was only targeted once in the game and reeled the target in for a 24-yard gain. The team's passing game wasn't quite operating on full efficiency, totaling just 80 passing yards on the night. Matt Ryan played the first half and was relieved by Danny Etling in the second half. The absence of lead receiver Julio Jones was a contributing factor to the low offensive output but it was a clearly conservative gameplan from the team as a whole. Hardy isn't a viable fantasy option going into the season as he's buried behind Jones, Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu on the team's depth chart.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper had a quiet game on Thursday with just one reception for two yards on two targets. The Falcons had a pretty run-heavy attack during the game with over 30 rushes compared to just 20 pass attempts. Hooper is a low-end starting option at tight end this year. He totalled 660 receiving yards and four touchdowns last year and is likely to be right around those same numbers this year.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Keelan Doss made an impact on the field once again in Thursdays showdown versus the Packers. He hauled in four catches on six targets for a team-high 52 yards in a game dominated by backup players. The Raiders are giving the undrafted rookie every opportunity to crack the teams roster, and hes lived up to the challenge. Doss has 11 catches for 99 yards and a touchdown through three preseason games and is capable of playing all three wideout positions. His versatility gives him a better shot at making the squad, but he wont hold much fantasy appeal in redraft leagues without a starting job.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu caught all three of his targets for 23 yards in Thursday's game against the Redskins. Sanu played most of the first half of the game, his longest action in the preseason so far. Quarterback Matt Ryan played the entire first half of the game while fellow receiver Calvin Ridley slotted in alongside Sanu for most of the half and Julio Jones sat out. While Sanu should have some solid games this year, he's likely going to be the third receiving option for the Falcons this year behind Jones and Ridley, making him a risky target for fantasy. If Jones or Ridley miss time, Sanu is a great add, but for now, he can be left undrafted.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley played most of the first half of Thursday's game against the Redskins and caught just one pass for nine yards on two targets. Ridley's reception came on the game's opening drive and he wasn't targeted again until the last drive of the first half. Mohamed Sanu led the team with three receptions in the game while the team's #1 receiver Julio Jones remained out of action in the midst of his contract renegotiation. Ridley was a revelation for the team last year, totalling 821 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. While the touchdowns may be hard to duplicate this year, he has a very good chance of surpassing last season's yard total. He's a great target as a #3 fantasy receiver with #2 WR upside.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.