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Fantasy DFS Outlook: Todd Gurley 2020

Todd Gurley Running Back LA Rams
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 29: Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (30) runs the ball for a gain during an NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams on December 29, 2019, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA.(Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire)

We have seen the best Todd Gurley ($6,100 DK, $7,100 FD) has to offer as an NFL running back. He will not duplicate the 40 total touchdowns and 3,924 combined yards he gained between 2017 and 2018. That simply is not going to happen. 

This past off-season the Los Angeles Rams sent Gurley packing with that knowledge on the heels of a 2019 season that saw him struggle with both his health and performance. While dealing with a left knee that just wasn’t right all year, Gurley managed 857 rushing yards on 223 carries for a paltry 3.8 yards per carry. Gurley also failed to make his presence felt in the passing game as he caught just 31 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns. Gurley still managed to preserve some value as he rushed for 12 touchdowns. With five touchdowns from Week 13 through Week 16, Gurley did finish the season off well from that perspective despite throwing up some warning signs.

In 2019, Gurley saw his yards after contact drop for 2.4 yards to 1.8. Until we get going this year, we will never know the exact source for those struggles. On a positive note he did have a 17 percent broken tackle rate. The big game just wasn’t there for Gurley though as after reaching the century mark in rushing yards six times in each of the last two seasons his season high was 97 (twice) in 2019 with only three other games of greater than 73 yards.

In fairness to Gurley, the knee was an issue last year and he still managed to suit up for 15 games while playing behind a subpar offensive line that had its share of struggles. While being fair and acknowledging that fact, it is still done with the caveat that DFS is all about what have you done for me this week. That is all we care about. Can you win me money today?   

If we are talking about Week One DFS football, even though I don’t mind the matchup, the answer is likely going to be a “No” from me. Gurley is joining an Atlanta Falcons team that was simply abysmal on the ground last season as they ranked 30th in rushing yards. The offensive line was improved heading into the 2020 season, but without pre-season games some level of adjustment will likely be needed and we can’t truly speak as to whether their efforts to improve were successful until they face another team.  

The early indications and observations coming out of Training Camp are favorable as it relates to Gurley’s explosiveness. Compared to last season anything will be an improvement, but it certainly is a good sign. It’s just something that is more valuable filing away and watching for yourself instead of acting on it essentially sight unseen. You aren’t going to buy a used car without driving it in person for visible evidence that it actually runs and isn’t held together by duct tape. So why treat Gurley differently?

For the 2020 season overall I do have a favorable outlook on Gurley. In four of his five NFL seasons Gurley has rushed for double digit touchdowns so the track record of being a stud RB1 is there. We know that Atlanta’s offense will likely focus on the passing game but Gurley most certainly will have a role. With Matt RyanJulio Jones, and Calvin Ridley making things happen down field, opposing defenders can’t simply focus on stacking the box to stop the run. This will work to Gurley’s advantage.  

While the season has yet to start, we have to like the manner in which offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter talks about Gurley’s expected workload. Ultimately, I don’t expect Gurley to reach the upper end of the 15 to 25 touch range Koetter has spoken about but the good news is that we know whose backfield it is.  

What Gurley ultimately can do with that role remains to be seen. He should get off to a good start against Seattle in Week One though as their run defense had it’s share of struggles last season. Coming from the NFC West, Gurley is familiar with facing Seattle and last season he picked up three rushing touchdowns and 170 combined yards in two games against them. The problem with Gurley though and the reason why I don’t feel comfortable recommending him for Week One and what is causing me to pump the breaks overall boils down one word; upside. At this point Gurley simply doesn’t have much of it. 

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