Fantasy Football Offseason Questions: Is Todd Gurley no longer a Round 1 or Round 2 pick?

Todd Gurley missed the Rams' last two regular season games with a knee injury and had 34 touches over three playoff games (120 total snaps). He had one great outing and two lousy ones.

Since then, the Rams re-signed restricted free agent Malcolm Brown after the Lions made him an offer and also drafted Memphis speedster Darrell Henderson, whom the team coveted and drafted with the idea of adding a "Kamara element" to their offense. That happened after Gurley was diagnosed with an arthritic condition in his knee according to The Athletic, and CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported the Rams were considering stem-cell treatment.

It was before the Super Bowl when NFL Network's Ian Rapoport was told Gurley wouldn't see "workhorse usage." And it was Rapoport who said in early June that Gurley's days of being a "straight-up, every-down bell cow" were done. Rams coach Sean McVay wouldn't comment on what role he has in mind for Gurley, only mentioning that he wanted Gurley to feel comfortable, which is why he's losing as much as 10 pounds this offseason as he works away from team drills during OTAs and minicamps. 

This series of unfortunate events has made Gurley the most unpopular running back with back-to-back 1,800-yard, 19-touchdown seasons in Fantasy Football history.

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Todd Gurley LAR • RB • 30
RUSH ATT256
RUSH YDS1251
REC59
REC YDS580
TOTAL TD21

We've come to know Gurley for his outstanding skill-set and versatility, but also for his large carry and catch totals. He averaged 22.5 touches per game last regular season -- any downtick from that would certainly crater his expectations. Losing weight may help him manage his arthritis but it won't help him handle a large amount of work.

This is where Henderson particularly comes into play. The rookie out of Memphis offers explosive speed and great receiving skills on a 5-foot-8, 208-pound frame. He's not exactly a between-the-tackles grinder but is an absolute nightmare for defenses once he's in space. Giving Sean McVay a player with that kind of profile will set his imagination ablaze. It also gives McVay a significant alternative to overloading Gurley.

You see where they're going with this, right?

Gurley will likely see limited work in training camp, next to no action in joint practices with other teams, and no preseason carries. If he gets more than, say, 17 touches per game, it'll be a surprise. And that's if he can stay healthy! Look, if he's already got some knee concerns that keep him from practicing in June, it seems fairly possible, if not likely, he'll encounter an injury once he's playing football. We haven't even mentioned the downgraded offensive line!

Gurley is riddled with downside. In 16 career games with 17 or fewer touches, seven with McVay as his playcaller, Gurley has had below 10 non-PPR points 12 times and below 15 PPR points 13 times. It's a nonstarter to take him in Round 1 or Round 2. The risk is mitigated in Round 3 after you've locked up two big-ticket starters, but even then he's not a slam-dunk over safe receivers (Kenny Golladay or Vikings twins Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen) or younger starting running backs (Chris Carson, Kerryon Johnson).

As sour as Gurley's outlook is, Henderson's is the exact opposite. Fresh, fast, and facing a potential bonanza as the new toy in the Rams offense, he'll become one of the trendiest sleepers of the summer. If he's in a position where he's getting 10-to-13 touches per game as a space-eating outside runner and pass catcher, there's a lot of desirable upside considering his 8.2 rushing average and 12.0 receiving average over three seasons at Memphis. It's not wrong to consider him among the most alluring handcuff running backs. Gurley drafters and interested Fantasy sharks will start choosing Henderson in Round 7. You will see him this preseason.

Malcolm Brown also offers fair value late on Draft Day, though it's expected he won't see a massive uptick in touches unless (until?) Gurley gets hurt. Not that he has a positive track record -- in six games with 10-plus carries, Brown has zero touchdowns, zero 100-yard games, and zero 10-point Fantasy performances regardless of format. Round 11-plus is the time for him.

This whole escapade can turn on a dime if Gurley has a drama-free training camp where he doesn't miss much practice and receives passable reports from onlookers. If the Rams rule out arthritis and Gurley is as fit as a fiddle, his draft stock will rebound to Round 1, potentially fifth overall. Likewise, if Gurley doesn't practice much and there's still a cloudy picture being painted about his knee while Henderson turns heads, he could tumble to Round 4.

Yes, really.

Welcome to the Summer of Gurley.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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