Todd Gurley Fantasy Football 2019 Outlook

Todd Gurley
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - FEBRUARY 03: Todd Gurley II #30 of the Los Angeles Rams rushes against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 03, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Getty Images)

Nobody faces more pressure in the fantasy football world than Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley. Once considered the no-brainer best running back in fantasy, Gurley is now at something of a crossroads in his career. The former first-round pick offers unmatched upside but also carries more risk than just about any of the top tier running backs. Is Gurley still among the elite at his position and worthy of a top investment?

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Todd Gurley 2019 Fantasy Football Season Preview

2018 Recap

Gurley was easily the best running back in fantasy football throughout the first 12 games of the season. Serving as the unquestioned lead back, Gurley recorded 1,175 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns to go along with 46 receptions for 474 yards and an additional four scores. His 25.5 fantasy points per game were easily the highest mark among running backs and he was single-handedly leading fantasy teams towards championships.

Then, all of a sudden, the wheels fell off the wagon. Following two subpar weeks of play, Gurley missed the final two games of the season with a then-undisclosed knee injury. In his absence, C.J. Anderson came out of nowhere to seamlessly replace Gurley in the Rams offense. Gurley returned for the playoffs but split time with Anderson for the majority of the postseason run. Los Angeles actually used Anderson more than Gurley, as the midseason acquisition recorded 46 carries to Gurley’s 30.

The Rams insisted that Gurley’s knee was fine, but that turned out to be a lie. According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, Gurley has arthritis in his knee, causing his mysterious usage down the stretch. This obviously is terrible news for Gurley, but what will this mean for his fantasy value in the short term?

2019 Projection

Everything is looking down for Todd Gurley ever since his arthritis diagnosis. Arthritis is different than most injuries in that there is no real cure. Gurley can take medicine and physical to minimize the effect, but there’s no way to fully recover from the condition. Dr. Jesse Morse of Florida Orthopedic Specialists chimed in on the matter, saying that he believes “Gurley’s best days are behind him.”

The Los Angeles Rams seem to agree. While they let Anderson walk in free agency, the Rams invested significant money and draft capital into the running back position. The team matched a restricted free agent offer for Malcolm Brown, bringing back Gurley’s understudy on a two-year, $3.3 million contract. Shortly after doing that, Los Angeles drafted running back Darrell Henderson early in the third round. This was just the Rams second pick of the draft and this selection wouldn’t make sense if Los Angeles didn’t plan on immediately incorporating him into the offense.

On top of all this, Gurley’s offensive line will probably be worse in 2019. The Rams offensive line is set to look a lot different after losing Rodger Saffold and John Sullivan in free agency. Saffold, in particular, was one of the best guards in the league and his absence will affect Gurley’s success. Additionally, Andrew Whitworth isn’t getting any younger. Whitworth was fantastic in 2018 but could see a dramatic dip in play at any moment during his age-38 season.

Todd Gurley Average Draft Position

Fantasy Football Calculator currently has Gurley as the ninth overall pick and eighth running back off the board in half-PPR scoring formats. This places him right below Le’Veon Bell and just above James Conner, Davante Adams, and Julio Jones.

Quite frankly, this is too early to take Gurley. As great as he was for the past two seasons, drafting a player based on past accomplishments is a bad fantasy football strategy. The truth of the matter is that Gurley has an incurable knee condition which will forever affect his career. While his career isn’t over, he’s no longer capable of being the unstoppable feature back of 2017 and 2018.

The Rams are painfully aware of this, as they’ve invested money in Malcolm Brown and an early draft pick in Darrell Henderson. The Rams are strapped for cash and didn’t have that many picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. Los Angeles wouldn’t have made these moves if they were comfortable Gurley could still be the main guy moving forward.

Gurley is still a good player, but he won’t be as explosive and he won’t see as big of a workload. His upside alone makes him worth the risk if he’s still on the board midway through the second round. However, Gurley carries too much risk to be a first-round pick. James Conner and Joe Mixon might not produce like 2017 Todd Gurley, but they’re significantly safer options who you should take over Gurley.

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