by Ray Kuhn
This isn’t the time or place to get into draft strategy and how credible the Zero-RB theory truly is, but Todd Gurley is going to be cited as an example to bolster the argument. An unquestioned first round pick was suddenly released… That is the life of a high end running back in the NFL.
Let’s take a step back. Gurley was a disappointment last season and the Rams viewed him as expendable, but we still shouldn’t write the 26-year old off. He is what could be considered an “old 26”, there are true concerns about the health of his left knee and, in kind, the marketplace really didn’t respond to Gurley’s availability.
While he was snapped up quickly by the Atlanta Falcons to replace Devonta Freeman, it was for one year and $5 million. So then we have to ask ourselves, what should we expect from Gurley this season?
With an ADP of 41 as the 19th running back coming off the board, the price seems about right as he could prove to be one of the stronger RB2 options. While Ito Smith and others are still there in Atlanta’s backfield, it is Gurley’s show and he will be given all of the work he can handle. Of course we still need to question the health of his knee.
After two straight seasons of more than 1,000 yards (1,305 and 1,251 respectively), Gurley took at step back last year as he made it through 13 games while rushing for 857 yards. He struggled in the passing game as he caught 31 passes for 207 yards, following 64 and 59 receptions in each of the two prior campaigns.
What helped to preserve Gurley’s value was the fact that for the third straight season he rushed for double digit touchdowns; 12 following 13 and 17 in the two previous seasons. That certainly works in his favor.
Assuming his knee does return to health, there is no reason why he can’t return to the days when he was averaging 4.7 and 4.9 yards per carry after dropping down to just 3.8 last season. At this point in his career he is simply too good to write off, and his nose for the end zone helps to keep him fantasy relevant.
Beyond that there were two key metrics (per Rotowire) in which Gurley excelled last season:
- Broken Tackle % – 14.3%
- Percent Yards after Contact – 65.6%
Gurley didn’t lose the skills that made him elite, and while we have to monitor the health it’s very possible he is rejuvenated in his new role in what is a strong offense.
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 Fantasy Baseball preseason rankings: