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
Shaquil Barrett Jun 3 3:10pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett, 2019's NFL sack leader with 19.5, had 5.5 more sacks in his first year with Tampa than he did in 61 games with the Broncos. He had 78 total disruptions last season and capitalized on his opportunities more often than anyone else. Barrett also played a ton of snaps (836, including 508 pass rushes), which caused his disruption rate of 15.4 percent to fall a little compared to some of the other top pass-rushers. His huge season earned him the franchise tag from the Bucs. Barrett also had 45 solo tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 37 QB hits, an interception and six forced fumbles. But can he do it again? Most IDP owners won't make him an every-week starter right off the bat in 2020 unless he shows the same kind of pass-rushing force early on.

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Aaron Donald Jun 3 2:10pm ET

Even though Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald ranked sixth on NFL.com's Nick Shook's top-10 pass disruptors of 2019, the five-time All-Pro is still one of the best all-around pass-rushers in the league. He played more total snaps (882) than anyone else on the list, which is why his 15.7 percent disruption rate is a little lower. Donald's 267 quarterback pressures since 2016 are the most in the NFL in that span. His 69 QB pressures were second-most in 2019, and his pressure percentage (13.5) was the highest among interior linemen with a minimum of 300 pass rushes. The 29-year-old has made the Pro Bowl in each of his six seasons and has 72 sacks so far in his career. He's the real deal and is an elite IDP defensive lineman.

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Josh Allen Jun 3 1:50pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars edge-rushing linebacker Josh Allen had an incredible rookie season in 2019, being selected to the Pro Bowl with 54 total disruptions and 10.5 sacks. He had a disruption rate of 16.2 percent and a sack rate of 3.1 percent, but how much of his success had to do with fellow pass-rushers Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue? Campbell is now playing in Baltimore after a trade and Ngakoue is disgruntled and wants to be traded. If Ngakoue leaves, too, Allen will have a tougher time putting up those kind of numbers in his second season. The 22-year-old seventh overall pick should still be a force to be reckoned with for years to come, but he might not be a weekly starter in IDP leagues just yet.

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Robert Quinn Jun 3 1:30pm ET

Chicago Bears defensive end Robert Quinn earned his five-year deal on the free-agent market with an excellent season in 2019 with the Cowboys. Working opposite of DeMarcus Lawrence, Quinn pressured the quarterback on 14 percent of pass rushes, the third-highest rate in the NFL with a minimum of 250 pass rushes. He had 49 QB pressures last year, which is the same number that Bears pass-rusher Khalil Mack had, but Quinn accomplished it on 116 fewer pass rushes. If Quinn can maintain that level of play, the Bears Defense could be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. Before 2019, though, Quinn didn't have a double-digit sack season since 2014, so many IDP owners will be skeptical that he can produce those numbers again in a new environment. In his career, the 30-year-old has 80.5 sacks in nine seasons, including four seasons with double-digit QB takedowns.

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DeForest Buckner Jun 3 1:30pm ET

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Emmanuel Sanders Jun 3 12:50pm ET

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Trent Taylor Jun 3 12:50pm ET

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James Conner Jun 3 12:40pm ET

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Myles Garrett Jun 3 12:10pm ET

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Clayton Geathers Jun 2 11:13pm ET

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