It has been a long fall from grace for the once elite Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley. After carrying the team on his back for the first few years of his career, he earned a huge contract. However, his usage and past injuries caught up with him. This led to his fantasy value falling off a cliff last year. He found a new home with the Atlanta Falcons, and hopes to come into 2020 rejuvenated. Considering his ADP, he is someone fantasy football team owners should keep on their radar.
Fantasy Football Preview: Todd Gurley
Once the Top Fantasy Back
It now seems like decades ago that Gurley was the most dominant fantasy back in football for a few years. In 2017 his 25.6 points-per-game in half-point-PPR was ridiculous enough. However, his 94.6 points in weeks 15 and 16 basically assured a fantasy title to anyone in the playoffs with him on their squad. For the most part, Gurley continued his dominance in 2018. He increased his point-per-game by one full point and, had he not missed two games, would have easily taken the RB1 spot.
However, those two missed games proved to be the beginning of the end of Gurley’s fantasy football dominance. He missed the final two games of the year with knee soreness. Though he did return for the playoffs, his usage was greatly scaled back, with him only getting 30 total carries in his three postseason games. NFL fans finally got some clarity on what the issue was during the subsequent off-season, where the Rams revealed that he had arthritis in his surgically repaired knee.
One of Gurley’s biggest strengths was his touchdown potential. Between 2017 and 2018, Gurley scored an almost unheard of 40 total touchdowns. This helped his cause in 2019 since he still saw paydirt 14 times. However, other than that, his efficiency was way down. Gurley barely cracked 1,000 scrimmage yards and managed a measly 3.8 yards-per-carry on the ground. Combine the good and the bad, and he took the RB14 spot.
Just two years into his record-setting contract extension, the Rams decided to cut ties with Gurley. He ended up signing with the Falcons, who have been dealing with running back injury issues of their own. Devonta Freeman, currently a free agent, has struggled to stay on the field, and has been ineffective when he has.
The Falcons should be a great fit for Gurley. With Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley, there will be plenty of attention given to the passing game. Now Gurley will look to give the team the balance they lacked last season. Their rushing offense was ranked 30th in the league for 2019. But it wasn’t necessarily from lack of trying. Freeman as their lead back still eclipsed 180 carries in 14 games. Another thing Gurley will like is that Freeman saw 70 targets, which is comparable to what Gurley was getting in his heyday.
Though his production was down, calling him completely washed is premature. If the Falcons can force-feed an ineffective Freeman, they will undoubtedly do the same for Gurley. An RB14 finish seems like his floor for 2020.
Todd Gurley ADP and Value
FantasyPros has Gurley ranked as the RB18 in half-point PPR. That projects him to drop two more spots compared to last year. Still, looking at players drafted around him, it is a reasonable spot to take him. He comes in after guys who are locks for high-volume like Leonard Fournette, Josh Jacobs, and Chris Carson. However, the guys right after him are potentially huge drop-offs.
ESPN has David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell ranked right after him. Both are also former elite backs, but both also looked even worse than Gurley last season. Players that still need a back with guaranteed volume need to pull the trigger on Gurley here if everyone ranked ahead of him is taken. Aside from the running backs, Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes have similar rankings, as does wide receiver Courtland Sutton. Mahomes and Jackson are probably the most tempting options, but despite their consensus rankings, they are being drafted all over the place, and may not be available.
Overall, Gurley is a guy that will probably finish right in line with where his ADP is. He is a safe pick for where he is at. But don’t reach with expectations for him to return to his old form.
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