Todd Gurley‘s health has been called into question after his noticeable absence from the latter two games of the Los Angeles Rams’ season. His mysterious and gloomy knee injury has not gone unnoticed and has been the center of discussion for NFL roundtables all around the media circus.
This attention hasn’t come without good reason. The Rams organization and Gurley himself have tried their best to downplay the severity of the knee’s ailments, but their efforts have had little effect. Questions still stem from interview-to-interview, and the injury is becoming more unknown the more we get into the offseason. Recently, Gurley’s trainer has come out and provided comments that have thrown Gurley’s 2019 season into a scary place.
“Everybody knew when Todd came out of Georgia that there would be some kind of arthritic component to his knee, which is part of every surgery whether it’s a shoulder, a knee, an ankle” – Travelle Gaines (Gurley’s Trainer)
This brings us to the upcoming fantasy football year. Arthritis in a running back’s knee should cause for caution among fantasy team owners, and rightfully so. There is a reason for optimism for fans and fantasy players alike though. Last year, Gurley won players championships in a variety of leagues, putting up incredible numbers in the process (256 ATT, 1,251 YDS, 59 REC, 580 YDS, 17 total TDs).
It can be assumed Gurley won’t be putting up these types of numbers in the upcoming season with the arthritic knee plus the addition of Darrell Henderson Jr. coming into play. Fewer snaps on the field, less practice time, and an explosive backup should limit Gurley’s production.
How much will he really be limited?
This is a question that has been circling around the media hurricane surrounding this topic, and it’s a question that won’t get answered until training camp or the regular season. This puts fantasy owners in limbo. Where do you draft Gurley? Do you wait and risk letting another player pick up on some production that Gurley still has in the tank? It’s a tough position for players in any league, but the type of league they’re playing in should affect Gurley’s point production and a player’s choice.
Effect of the League(s)
The variety of fantasy league has shifted towards accommodating the customized player and has a variety of leagues that satisfy the need for variety. Leagues such as Point-Per-Reception (PPR), Touchdown Only, and Standard Point Leagues all change the way drafting and playing works, and it changes where certain players get drafted as well.
Gurley has become a fantasy football favorite throughout his career. Last year he was a consensus top-three pick and a top point-getter among running backs and leagues as a whole. He topped the league in touchdowns and was top of the league in rushing yards and running back receiving yards-per-attempt.
Even in leagues where Gurley excelled (all of them), he is being ranked well below where he was this time last year. In ESPN Senior Writer Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Football 2019 Rankings, Berry ranks Gurley seventh among running back for the upcoming season, behind the likes of Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, and Melvin Gordon. Gurley is listed only one spot above Cincinnati’s Joe Mixon.
This may come as a disappointing sight to Rams fans all over the world, but it’s a truth that has to be lived with, we’re in the endgame now (I’ll let myself out). This thought process, having Gurley out of the upper-echelon of players, is the new normal, and may have to be the future also.
Drafting a Mystery
No, Gurley shouldn’t be drafted top-ten or even top-fifteen, but if an owner has the opportunity after their first two picks, it’s certainly worth the risk. At worst, Gurley will produce touchdowns and have RB2-worth yardage and will be a receiving threat that teams will still have to respect.
There will be a dropoff, we won’t ignore that. There will be a shared workload between two, even three running backs. There will even be a cautionary measure when it comes to padded practices, but Gurley’s potential is worth it. A potential record-setting talent, proven superstar and MVP-candidate just doesn’t fall off of the face of the Earth.
The Rams as a budding great franchise and owners will have to trust that they’ll handle this forthcoming situation with class and not put Gurley in a spot where he’s overworked, but can still produce. It’s a fine line, but Gurley can still get valuable points, especially in TD-Only leagues where he will be utilized near the goal line.
The Bottom Line
Gurley may not be the exact same player but is too talented not to produce. He is not worthy of the first pick but is still among the best in certain leagues. If the organization handles this right, there will be plenty of Gurley touchdowns in the Coliseum this year, and points to come for fantasy owners nationwide.