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Thursday, July 21, 2016

2016 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: TODD GURLEY RB LOS ANGELES RAMS

When it comes to which players are in play for the number 1 overall pick in 2016 fantasy football drafts, the knee-jerk names that come up are Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell, who are joined by Los Angeles Rams second-year explosive runner Todd Gurley.  Gurley certainly fits the profile as a number 1 overall player as he is the rare bellcow back in today's fantasy football and his crazy good running skills already have him on track to be a tremendous star.  Gurley certainly showed what all the fuss was about as a rookie in 2015 as he literally stormed out of the gates upon missing the first two weeks and that giving just a cameo appearance in Week 3.  With the training wheels fully off, Gurley went wild starting in Week 4 as he rushed for 120 yards or more in four straight games:

Week 4:  146 yards
Week 5:  159 yards
BYE
Week 7:  128 yards
Week 8:  133 yards

Those numbers were insane to say the least as Gurley showed off the 4.2 speed and explosive burst that made him a threat to score almost every time he touched the football.  Now another year removed from the torn ACL that ended his college career early, Gurley should go no later than the third pick in all fantasy football drafts as another heavy workload and high rushing totals are in his future. 

Now in digging into Gurley a bit more, the Jamaal Charles comparison at least from a rushing perspective is accurate.  While Gurley is bigger physically than Charles, he has the same type of 0-60 speed and instant acceleration that allows him to pick up yardage in a hurry.  Having rushed for 10 scores last season as a rookie, that number should be the floor for Gurley this year and a run literally to 15 is not out of the question.  The yardage also figures to easily go past 1,200 yards and approach 1,500 if all breaks right.

We say "if it all breaks right" due to a few questions we do have about Gurley.  The first concern is durability. At 6-1 and 227, Gurley is a bit slight and has quickly earned an injury-prone label.  Going with the torn ACL in his knee in his college, Gurley also ended his rookie campaign a year ago in a walking boot in missing Week 17 with an injured foot.  There are questions about how many carries are too many for Gurley as he noticeably lagged in his rushing totals per game last season.  After rushing for over 120 yards in his first four games as a starter, Gurley only went over 100 yards ONCE more the last 8 games.  Thus there is a debate about how effective he will be when league titles are decided.

Another issue which need to be talked about with Gurley is the utter lack of protection on offense for the Los Angeles Rams this season.   With a rookie QB in Jared Goff and literally no receivers warranting concern from defensive coordinators, Gurley will face 8-men in the box every week.  This is no small thing as even the most talented runners will have trouble picking up yards with so many lanes clogged.  Thus there is concern that Gurley may struggle to get the amount of yardage his talent would hint at this season. 

Finally, Gurley is not a big receiver yet as he caught just 21 balls a year ago and his upside there seeems to be just average.  Sort of how Adrian Peterson is with just a below-average haul of catches on a seasonal basis, Gur

When you put it all together, Todd Gurley remains a top three fantasy football talent this summer during drafts.  Still there are question marks which can't be ignored here and this is especially true after so many to backs went bust a season earlier. 

2016 PROJECTION:  1,289 yards 12 TD 33 receptions 288 yards TD 

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