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.
TFC Draft August 13th
Wide receivers JJ Nelson and Tavon Austin are both likely to sign with the San Francisco 49ers, pending physicals. It's not surprising that the team is adding receiver depth with Deebo Samuel (broken foot) out for the start of the year. Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne and Dante Pettis are currently in place to serve as the top receivers for the team to start the year, but the additions of veterans like Nelson and Austin should help give quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo some additional support. Nelson and Austin don't need to be on draft radars at this point as they'll likely see limited snaps in four-receiver sets and gadget plays.
Los Angeles Rams wide receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp each caught 90 passes for over 1,000 yards last year. However, this year, they could be in line for even more production. This offseason, the Rams lost Brandin Cooks, who accounted for 42 receptions for 583 yards last year as well as Todd Gurley, who compiled over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, including 31 receptions. The Rams didn't do much to replace these two players. Josh Reynolds will step into a bigger role at receiver while rookie Cam Akers and second-year running back Darrell Henderson Jr. will fill in for Gurley. In a highly-productive Rams offense, the ceiling is very high for both Woods and Kupp, who will be heavily featured this year and could provide WR1 numbers if they stay healthy.
In a recent interview, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray gave ESPN's Josh Weinfuss a bit of insight to his vision for this upcoming season. Weinfuss asked Murray if he could see wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald, DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk all reaching 1,000 yards this year and Murray replied "Oh, yeah for sure. I definitely think that's possible." There's certainly no doubt that Murray has a fantastic arsenal of receivers this year with the addition of Hopkins. Last year, without Hopkins, Murray had an exceptional rookie year, throwing for 3,722 yards with 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He completed 64.4% of his passes and also rushed for 544 yards and four touchdowns. He could very well top those impressive numbers this year and secure his place amongst the top-tier of fantasy quarterbacks.
Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley II may not see a heavy set of reps during training camp and he was seen with a limp, per ESPN. The 26-year-old has been nursing a knee injury dating back to his tenure with the Rams in 2018. Gurley was once an elite fantasy commodity, but has now been set back by injuries. Last season, the back had 857 rush yards, 12 rush touchdowns, 31 receptions, 207 receiving yards, and two receiving touchdowns in 15 games. The Falcons are set to have a high-powered offense this season and Gurley will be the RB1, but the possibility of an injury or missed time will continue to loom over his fantasy value. Because of this, the Georgia product's fantasy value takes a hit and downgrades him to an RB2 for 2020.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin has been putting in the work to build rapport with new QB Tom Brady as training camps are continuing to progress. The 24-year-old was seen catching a pass from Brady on Tuesday as the two look to form a solid QB-WR duo. The now fourth-year player is coming off an incredible 2019 season in which he stockpiled 86 receptions, 1,333 yards, and nine touchdowns in 14 games. Despite having competition for targets on the team, Godwin enters 2020 as arguably a top-five fantasy receiver based on his performance from last season. The slow formation of chemistry with a legendary QB only helps his chances of accumulating similar stats from last season.
The Kansas City Chiefs and tight end Travis Kelce agreed to a four-year, $57.25 million extension on Thursday, including $28 million in guarantees according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The All-Pro tight end had two years and $46 million remaining on his original deal, which was signed back in January of 2016. The Chiefs have spent big to keep their explosive core together this offseason as they doled out a 10-year extension to quarterback Patrick Mahomes that could be worth around $500 million. Kelce led all tight ends in 2019 with 97 catches and 1,229 receiving yards. He should be the second tight end off the board in fantasy drafts after San Francisco's George Kittle.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson is already expected to play a pivotal role in the offense in 2020. The first-round draft pick may not have the blow-away speed of departed receiver Stefon Diggs, but is a versatile route-runner who can play outside or in the slot. The Vikings have been decimated on the defensive side of the football this past offseason, putting more of an onus on the offense to step up. The absence of preseason games creates a challenge for fantasy owners to properly scout rookies before drafts. But Jefferson figures to have a role early on, making him an intriguing late-round fantasy option.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller enters training camp trying to put 2019 behind him after disappointing last season. The third-year receiver caught seven touchdowns during his rookie season in 2018 and Miller's future looked very bright. But Miller endured a sloppy training camp and struggled to see the field the first month of the season. He did rebound and finished the season with 52 receptions for 656 yards but caught only two touchdowns. Bears receivers coach Mike Furrey has made a litany of comments in the offseason about Miller's preparation but has praised, thus far, what he has seen. He's trying to learn. He's dropped the ego of this whole Memphis thing. Now he's coming here and learning from Allen Robinson, asking Allen Robinson, watching Allen Robinson," Furrey told reporters. "If you're starting to do that stuff, you're definitely heading in the right direction and starting to grow individually.'' Miller will be the definition of boom-or-bust heading into fantasy drafts.
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky threw to receivers on Wednesday but the real competition for the starting job begins on Friday when full-padded practices begin. Head coach Matt Nagy has intimated that the decision could come sooner than later with the condensed training camp schedule hindering the team's ability to get a full picture. To this point, Trubisky has said all the right things and has been praised for his preparation in zoom meetings. Even if he wins the job out of camp, Trubisky's leash will be extremely short with backup Nick Foles breathing down his neck heading into the team's Week 1 battle against the Lions.
Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles has already been praised by head coach Matt Nagy for "improving the quarterback room" as the team prepares for full-padded practice starting next week. Foles was acquired from the Jaguars in the offseason to not only compete with incumbent starter Mitch Trubisky, but perhaps snatch the starter's job from him. Foles had a disastrous season in 2019, breaking his collarbone in Week 1 and then underperformed when he returned to action in Week 11. The veteran has a history of poor quarterback play when given the keys to an offense right out of the gate but also has shown to be one of the greatest off-the-bench passer's in recent history. If Foles wins the starting job in Chicago, he still lacks any kind of fantasy appeal outside of two quarterback leagues.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones will look to take a step forward in his second NFL season, and will be doing so with a new offensive coordinator in former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. In his first public comments since being hired in January, Garrett raved about the sophomore-signal caller's work ethic and the work Jones put in to learn the offense without the two being able to meet face-to-face due to the coronavirus pandemic. Jones showed huge upside last season with five-300 yard passing games and three games with four-plus touchdowns. His main issue was turnovers as he threw 12 picks and fumbled a league-leading 18 times. Garrett had great success with Dak Prescott, so expect him to help Jones improve in year two making him a good QB to target if waiting on the position in drafts.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle agreed to a five-year, $75 million extension Thursday, Aug. 13, that includes an $18 million signing bonus. The contract language is still being worked out.
Fantasy Spin: Kittle is an elite tight end that should be among the top two or three taken universally in fantasy.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle signed a five-year $75 million contract with $40 million guaranteed. The $15 million per season average makes Kittle the highest-paid tight end in the league by a wide margin over Hunter Henry's $10.6 million franchise-tag deal. Kittle caught 85-plus passes and gained 1,000-plus yards each of the past two seasons in becoming arguably the best tight end in football. The 26-year-old was named a First-Team All-Pro last season and now will be locked-into Kyle Shanahan's offense in San Francisco that was fourth in the NFL in total offense last year. Kittle should be one of the top-two tight ends drafted in fantasy within the top-25 picks.
Free-agent DT P.J. Hall (Raiders) signed an undisclosed deal with the Houston Texans Thursday, Aug. 13.
Updating a previous report, Dallas Cowboys DE Everson Griffen agreed to a one-year deal with a $3 million base salary and includes $3 million in potential roster bonuses.
Free-agent DL Ziggy Ansah (Seahawks) was offered a one-year, $910,000 minimum salary by the San Francisco 49ers, but it wasn't enough for Ansah to sign.
Seattle Seahawks LB K.J. Wright (shoulder) had a 'marvelous' recovery from shoulder surgery and was able to practice Wednesday, Aug. 12, according to head coach Pete Carroll.
Free-agent DE Everson Griffen (Vikings) agreed to terms with the Dallas Cowboys Wednesday, Aug. 12, according to a source.
The Dallas Cowboys signed free-agent defensive end Everson Griffen to a contract on Wednesday evening. Griffen had spent over a decade with the Minnesota Vikings and had multiple suitors during free agency. The veteran lineman has recorded 74.5 sacks across his past 77 games and adds an extra pass-rushing element to the Cowboys' defense. The unit gave up the 11th-fewest points per game last season, but also lost Robert Quinn and Byron Jones over the summer. The Cowboys project to be a middle-of-the-pack DST unit in 2020.
Updating a previous source, free-agent TE Luke Stocker (Falcons) is expected to re-sign with the Atlanta Falcons, according to a source Wednesday, Aug. 12.