Fantasy Football Profile: Todd Gurley
Todd Gurley has been one of the most prolific fantasy football scorers in recent memory, but his stock has taken a tumble in the offseason primarily due to nagging health concerns. Gurley’s talent is incredible, but there are certainly some red flags to be aware of when considering adding him to your fantasy squad. Here, we’ll take a look at Gurley’s fantasy football profile and what to expect from him in 2019, including his projected stats.
If you’re reading this, you already know how statistically incredible Gurley has been over the past two seasons, but a little reminder never hurt. Over the last two seasons, Gurley has 40 total TDs to his name – 19 in 2017 and 21 last year in 2018. He led the league in that category in both seasons and led the league in scrimmage yards in 2017 with 2,093. According to FantasyPros data, Gurley’s PPR fantasy finishes from 2015-2018 are RB9, RB15, RB1, RB3 respectively. He’s totaled at least 1,200 yards from scrimmage all four years in the league, only failed to hit 1,100 rushing yards once, and only failed to hit double-digit TDs once. His numbers have been incredible, but Gurley’s ADP has sunk to 13th overall and RB10 in FantasyPros ADP because of uncertainty about his health and playing time. Keep an eye on his ADP over the summer while he’s sitting out of practice, as it may drop enough to make him a huge steal.
UNKNOWN SEVERITY OF KNEE INJURY
Gurley looked bothered by his knee at the end of last season, playing fewer snaps, getting fewer touches, and ultimately missing the final two games of the regular season. He averaged 23.3 touches from Games 1-12, but that number dipped to 18.0 touches in Games 13-14. The majority of his 1,831 total yards and 21 total TDs came in the first 12 games, too. In Games 1-12, Gurley averaged 137.4 scrimmage yards and 1.6 TDs per game. In Games 13-14, he averaged 91.0 scrimmage yards and 1.0 TDs. His volume and production decreased further in the playoffs, where Gurley averaged 11.3 touches, 55.0 scrimmage yards, and 0.7 TDs on just 34 total touches in three games. Despite the efforts of the Rams to downplay Gurley’s injury, his low usage in the biggest games of the season spoke volumes about his health. He had just 10 carries in the Super Bowl, which was a tightly contested game for much of the night. If Gurley were truly healthy at the end of last season, he would have seen closer to his 23.3 touches per game average he maintained for much of the year.
Offseason reports have shed some new light on what’s really going on with Gurley’s knee. His trainer recently let it be known that Gurley is dealing with an “arthritic component to his knee.” Gurley does not seem to be concerned about his knee, telling the NFL’s Maurice Jones-Drew that he’s “not hurt.” That’s likely just lip service from Gurley as he spends the offseason trying to rehab and get back to full health in time for the regular season. Even with the tight-lipped approach of the Rams and some insight from Gurley’s trainer, the full extent of his injury(ies) are still very much unknown. That leaves no firm timetable for him to rehab and no context to gauge the severity of what he’s going through.
TALENTED ROOKIE AND REDUCED WORKLOAD
The Rams selected standout Memphis RB Darrell Henderson in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft – a seemingly odd move for a team that features the league’s leading TD scorer over the past two seasons. Gurley’s health is clearly a concern for Los Angeles, whose draft selection of Henderson should be viewed as an insurance policy. Gurley has not participated in offseason workouts yet, and he has worked on dropping weight to put less strain on his knee. Maurice Jones-Drew said on NFL Network that he expects Gurley to be on the field for far less than his career average of around 75 percent of offensive snaps.
While Gurley sits out of practice, Henderson will get in a lot of valuable work this summer. He’s a good bet to steal some work from Gurley this season, as is Malcolm Brown. Brown agreed to a two-year deal a few months ago after matching the Lions’ offer sheet for him. With a quality backup and a talented rookie on the depth chart, the Rams don’t need to push Gurley to 20+ touches per game, at least for the immediate future.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Despite the knee injury, the new addition to the backfield, and the possibility of a scaled-back role, Gurley’s upside is tremendous. He’s been at or near the top of the overall fantasy leaderboards in recent years for a reason. I do believe he’ll have fewer touches this season than he’s averaged over the last two years (329), but that doesn’t spell disaster. In Gurley’s rookie season, he played in 13 games, started 12, and only totaled 250 touches. He averaged 5.2 yards/touch, racked up 1,294 total yards, scored 10 times, and won Offensive Rookie of the Year. He was a top-we RB that season. He’s proven that he can be efficient on less touches and still make a huge impact for your fantasy team. His ADP has him slated as an early second round pick, but his upside is that of a top-3 overall player if he can stay healthy. A little trepidation is needed if you plan to draft Gurley, but don’t close the book on him just yet.
2019 Projections: 215 carries, 1,110 rushing yards, 47 receptions, 310 receiving yards, 12 total TDs, RB9