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.
Adam Schefter is reporting Saints' QB Drew Brees is expected to undergo thumb surgery as early as today that would sideline him approximately six weeks, per leagues sources.
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) will be examined Monday, Sept. 16, to determine if he'll require elbow surgery.
Fantasy Spin: If Big Ben is out for an extended period, he can likely be dropped in most formats because bye weeks are incoming soon. Mason Rudolph isn't a viable replacement in fantasy.
Cleveland Browns RB Elijah McGuire was signed to the 53-man roster Monday, Sept. 16.
New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (thumb) has a ligament issue with his throwing thumb that has him concerned that it's significant. The team will know more Monday, Sept. 16.
Fantasy Spin: It sounds like Brees could miss a month at the very least. If the thumb required surgery, it could be eight to 12 weeks. If that were the case, it would be hard to hold on to him in single-year formats. Teddy Bridgewater could be a matchup play in the interim. Week 3 against the Seattle Seahawks might be one of them to stream him for.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders pulled in 11 of his 13 targets for 98 yards and a touchdown during the Week 2 loss to the Bears. It was Sanders second game in a row in which he has scored while also accounting for both of quarterback Joe Flaccos touchdowns on the year. He will continue to have his number called by Flacco and should retain his must-start designation (in most leagues) in the weeks ahead. Keep him rolling.
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay finished with 36 yards on 13 attempts to go along with four receptions (seven targets) for 30 yards. The 25-year-old continues to split carries with fellow running back Royce Freeman, who took away 11 potential carries while eating up some targets from quarterback Joe Flacco. Until either man demonstrates a stable workload moving forward, they shouldnt be considered a reliable fantasy option. Keep an eye on this situation in the weeks ahead.
Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman rushed for 54 yards on 11 carries during the loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday. As usual, Freeman split carries once again with Phillip Lindsay, who rushed for 36 yards on 13 attempts, with both men also combining for nine receptions. Unless there is an injury, expect both players to contribute equally in the weeks ahead, with both retaining little fantasy value at the moment.
Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco went 35-for-50 for 292 yards and a touchdown, connecting with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders late in the fourth quarter in the loss to the Bears. The veteran, who played just nine games in 2018 while still a member of the Baltimore Ravens, is posting a 69.1 completion percentage and 91.6 passer rating, with both being career-bests in his first season in Denver. However, he retains little fantasy value outside of deeper leagues or two-quarterback formats, at least until he starts throwing a few more touchdowns.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper had just four receptions for 34 yards during the Week 2 win over the Eagles. After pulling in all nine of his looks against the Vikings in Week 2, Hooper cooled off and was barely targeted on Sunday night despite quarterback Matt Ryan throwing the ball 43 times. Hooper will attempt to get back on track in Week 3 for a meeting with the Colts. He is a borderline-start.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley pulled in eight receptions (10 targets) for 105 yards and a touchdown during the Week 2 victory over the Eagles. It was yet another promising showing for the sophomore wideout as he has now recorded 12 receptions and two scores on the year. Look for him to continue to get his looks from quarterback Matt Ryan in the Falcons pass-heavy offense. He remains a must-start against the Colts in Week 3.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones pulled in just five of his 10 targets on Sunday against the Eagles, but still finished with 106 yards and two scores, including catching a 54-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Ryan in the fourth quarter. After an uneventful Week 1 showing against the Vikings, the veteran wideout managed to get it together for a much-needed win against Philly. With three touchdowns in the books for Jones, the Falcons will meet up with the Colts on Sunday. Jones remains a must-start.
Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman rushed for just 22 yards on 11 attempts during the Week 2 showdown with the Eagles, but he attempted to offset those numbers by pulling in three receptions for 42 yards. Nonetheless, it was still a relatively disappointing showing for the 27-year-old who has rushed for just 41 yards on the year. After playing only two games in 2018, Freeman hopefully shook off any remaining residual rust over the first two weeks and will attempt to get things going against the Colts on Sunday.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had an up-and-down game on Sunday night against the Eagles. Despite throwing for 320 yards and three touchdowns, the veteran also tossed three picks that nearly led to Atlantas second loss of the season. Nonetheless, Ryan was able to shine when it counted most and connected on a 54-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones late in the fourth quarter to seal the win. With five touchdowns and five interceptions on the year, Ryan will look to get on track against the Colts in Week 3. Keep him starting.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce caught seven of his nine targets for 107 yards and a touchdown in Week 2 versus the Oakland Raiders.
Fantasy Spin: It's easy to take Kelce's production for granted sometimes because he offers such a high floor. After a sub-par Week 1 by his standards, the 29-year-old is up to 10 catches for 195 yards and a touchdown through two weeks. Although next week's matchup against the Baltimore Ravens is far from an easy one, Kelce has proven to be about as matchup-proof as they come.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown pulled in seven of his eight targets for 72 yards in the win over the Giants. For the second week in a row, Brown led the team in looks from quarterback Josh Allen. He should be on the radar in all fantasy leagues, regardless of format, as Brown and No. 2 wideout Cole Beasley will likely continue to gobble up most of the teams receptions. Look for him to keep it going against the Bengals in Week 3.
Kansas City Chiefs RB Damien Williams (knee) carried nine times for eight yards but hauled in three of his five targets for 48 yards in Week 2 against the Oakland Raiders. RB LeSean McCoy (ankle) rushed for 23 yards on 11 carries and did not gain a yard on his three receptions. However, Williams left late due to a right knee contusion, while McCoy suffered an ankle injury.
Fantasy Spin: Williams has been very productive as a receiver so far, but he's mustered a mere 34 yards on 22 carries through two games. McCoy was much more productive as a runner in the opener, but the entire ground game was bottled up in Week 2. Should either player be forced to sit out Week 3, fantasy owners might get a chance to see what preseason star Darwin Thompson could do in more of a full-time role.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Demarcus Robinson erupted for 172 yards receiving and two touchdowns while catching all six of his targets in Week 2 against the Oakland Raiders.
Fantasy Spin: For some perspective, Robinson entered the contest with 44 catches for 500 yards and four touchdowns in 49 career games. Fantasy owners can do worse than place their faith in just about pass-catcher seeing significant time in this offense at the moment, and Robinson certainly earned more snaps with this effort. Owners shouldn't be afraid to scoop him up off waivers this week and start him in Week 3 against the Baltimore Ravens.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley hauled in all four of his targets for 83 yards during the win over the Giants on Sunday. It was another relatively productive outing for Beasley, who has served as quarterback Josh Allens No. 2 receiving option behind John Brown by compiling nine receptions (13 targets) over the first two games of the season. With Robert Foster being a non-factor so far in 2019, look for the former Cowboy to continue to get his looks in the weeks ahead.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes finished 30-of-44 for 443 yards and four touchdowns in Week 2 versus the Oakland Raiders.
Fantasy Spin: Head coach Andy Reid is playing chess while opposing defensive coordinators are playing chess. Mahomes would be doing crazy things even if he didn't have Reid calling the shots, but the two of them together is lethal for defenses. Mahomes' 278 yards passing in the second quarter were the most for a player in any quarter since 2008. He should be considered the best play at his position against next week at home against the Baltimore Ravens.