Todd Gurley was heavily taken as the top pick in Fantasy Football last season, and it paid off well for quite a while. Until he disappeared for the last two games of the regular season due to an injured left knee. Like other fantasy football players, my season went down the drain real quick after losing my number one pick during the fantasy football playoffs. The question today is, are we going to let this affect us going into next season?
Gurley’s injury history begins with his college days playing for the Georgia Bulldogs, dating back to 2014 when he tore his left ACL, though you wouldn’t know by looking at his play in four seasons with the Rams. Last season he looked as if he had a chance to become the league rushing leader and was even making a case for MVP until he shut it down late in the regular season. He returned to the field during the playoffs, but didn’t see the same workload he did during the regular season. How much caution should we take going into the 2019 season with the way he finished 2018?
The answer is simple: we need to be fairly cautious with Gurley going forward. There are a lot of good running backs out there for the upcoming season. The regular season can be broken down into three sections, with the first section being weeks 1-8. The Rams started 8-0 last season, and Gurley was a big part of that. Gurley was legitimately contending for the MVP at that point as well. The second section is weeks 9-15, where we saw his workload diminish a lot last year. Then of course, section three is weeks 16 and 17 where he didn’t play due to the injury.
Gurley’s workload dropped from 21.1 rushes per game during the first eight games of the season to 14.5 his last six games of the regular season. The lighter workload resulted in his stats also being lower, going from 100 rushing yards, 43.9 receiving yards, and 1.9 total touchdowns per game in the first eight games to 75.2 rushing yards, 38.2 receiving yards, and one touchdown per game in the last six.
A big reason the Rams were comfortable in letting Gurley get a lighter workload in the playoffs was because veteran running back C.J. Anderson stepped up for the team. Anderson is now gone, and the Rams now have Malcolm Brown and third-round draft pick Darrell Henderson behind Gurley on the depth chart. Neither backup poses as a threat as a starter, but both could slightly eat into Gurley’s work load if the Rams don’t feel like taking a chance on yet another injury that could end the teams season.
So that leaves us here: where do we rank Gurley among the rest of NFL running backs? I’ve mentioned there are a lot of quality dual-threat running backs in the league right now. At this point I have him at RB8 going into this season. If Gurley is 100% healthy and the Rams use him like they did at the beginning of last season, he’s a top-three running back, but there’s a big chance we don’t see the heavy workload like we did in early 2018.