Fantasy Football Week 1 Winners and Losers: Buying into Todd Gurley
Todd Gurley found himself somewhere in between a winner and a loser in Week 1, but Chris Towers thinks we saw enough positive signs to buy into the Rams's star.
There are winners, and there are losers, and then there's what happened with Todd Gurley in Week 1.
Every Sunday evening, we'll take a look back at that day's action, looking for who helped their Fantasy value the most, and who hurt it. But sometimes, a player won't fit in those neat categories, but we still need to talk about them. And Gurley fell into this gray area Sunday.
Of course, given the concerns about Gurley's workload coming into the season, the fact Malcolm Brown ended up with 53 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries has to make Gurley a loser, right? After all: It was Brown, not Gurley, who saw that valuable goal-line work, and even Darrell Henderson got a carry inside the Panthers' 10-yard line, his lone touch of the game.
However, it's not like Gurley struggled. He led the team with 14 carries for 97 yards, and added a catch for 4 yards, the only target thrown at a running back in the game. Heck, he ultimately played 70% of the team's snaps, compared to 26% for Brown. He dominated work the way only a handful of backs across the league can be expected to top in any given week — he was fifth in running back snaps for Week 1 and eighth in routes run — even if the end result wasn't quite what we've come to expect from Gurley in the past.
The problem was, Gurley was a non-factor near the goal-line. Brown got the two in-close touchdowns, and Gurley was even pulled for Henderson in one second-half drive after rushing for 44 yards on that drive. Gurley ended up with just one carry in the red zone in the entire game — and that one was called back for holding.
If that happens every week, Gurley's going to be a bust. But there's no way the Rams will continue to use him this way. It wouldn't make any sense. Gurley looked great Sunday, and if you were going to limit his workload, you wouldn't do it by only having him carry the ball between the 20s. If Gurley is good for 15-plus touches every week and ends up with 100 yards or something close, the touchdowns will come.
Which is to say, this is a buy-low opportunity for Gurley. If whoever drafted him in your league saw what Brown did Sunday and is panicking, swoop in and offer your fourth-round pick and see if he'll let you steal Gurley from him. I came away more encouraged by what I saw from Gurley Sunday, even if you can't quite call him a winner.
In the long run, he may be.
Winners and Losers
Marlon Mack RB
IND Indianapolis • #25
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
No Andrew Luck, no problem for Colts in Week 1, at least. Jacoby Brissett passed for a couple of scores, but the Colts leaned on Mack heavily, as he rushed for 174 yards and a score on 25 carries. He was still a non-factor in the passing game, but Mack should get plenty of work, and the Colts moved the Chargers' line around pretty easily. Mack could still be a very good Fantasy starter.
BAL Baltimore • #8
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
A popular breakout candidate (and Jamey Eisenberg's Start of the Week for the opener), Jackson put together one of the easiest 42-point performances you'll ever see from a Fantasy quarterback. Yes, it was against the Dolphins, but he put together that performance while rushing for just 6 yards, and he was confident and accurate on deep passes, which is going to be key. If he can take advantage over the top when opposing defenses focus on stopping the run, Jackson could outperform all expectations.
KC Kansas City • #14
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Watkins showed that he could be effective as the third option in this offense when healthy last season, but he showed what he can do as a focal point Sunday. Nine catches for 198 yards and three touchdowns isn't where you should set expectations, obviously, but I'm viewing him as a top-15 wide receiver for however long Tyreek Hill's collarbone injury keeps him out.
BAL Baltimore • #15
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Marquise Brown was unstoppable against the Dolphins, showing no signs of the offseason foot surgery that kept him out during training camp. Terry McLaurin was arguably Case Keenum's top target, hauling in five of seven targets for 125 yards and a touchdown. And A.J. Brown gashed the Browns for 100 yards on three catches, while ranking second on the team with four catches. All will be worth speculative adds moving forward, in the order mentioned here.
TEN Tennessee • #82
Age: 35 • Experience: 14 yrs.
Walker picked up right where he left off after last year's season-ending ankle injury, hauling in five of six passes for 55 yards and two touchdowns. It's only one week, but Walker looks like he's back to being locked in as Marcus Mariota's top target, and he's a No. 1 Fantasy tight end as long as he stays healthy.
DAL Dallas • #13
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
In the past, there wasn't much room for the Cowboys' No. 1 wide receiver to be Fantasy relevant. However, Gallup saw his production improve after the team acquired Amari Cooper last season, and after a strong preseason and training camp, he picked up 158 yards on seven catches, catching each of his targets. If Dak Prescott really does have a breakout season, maybe he'll take Gallup along with him. This was a great start.
TB Tampa Bay • #3
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
This was supposed to be a dream matchup for Winston, who ended up burying the Buccaneers instead with three interceptions, including two returned for a touchdown. Top receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin combined for just four catches for 69 yards from Winston.
CLE Cleveland • #6
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Things didn't really get ugly for Mayfield until the fourth quarter, when he tossed all three of his interceptions while trying to engineer a comeback. The Browns were missing multiple starting offensive linemen in the game, and Mayfield was under pressure constantly, but it wasn't a great start to his hoped-for breakout campaign.
CAR Carolina • #10
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
This shouldn't shake your confidence much in Samuel as a sleeper, but it was disappointing to see he didn't sustain his preseason momentum. More disappointing: On a day when Cam Newton threw the ball 38 times, just four went to Samuel. There's still loads of potential here, but with D.J. Moore getting 11 targets, Samuel doesn't appear to have overtaken him as the No. 1 option just yet.
ATL Atlanta • #24
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
This was supposed to be Freeman's return to be the Falcons' No. 1 back. Instead, he split work nearly evenly with Ito Smith, picking up 27 snaps to Smith's 25. It was a weird game, as the Falcons couldn't get much going, but this was concerning for those of us hoping Freeman would dominate work for them.
Corey Davis WR
TEN Tennessee • #84
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Davis was better than he got credit for last season, but this was a concerning start. He was targeted just three times and was unable to catch any of them. He wasn't used much less than Brown, so it's not time to assume Davis is the No. 2, but there might not be enough volume here for him to be a starting option if Walker is back to full speed and Brown is a factor.
MIA Miami • #27
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Nobody was good for the Dolphins Sunday, but it's hard to find someone who did worse than Ballage and his five carries for negative-1 yard. Kenyan Drake wasn't much better, but that might be the point; if they are splitting work on this offense, neither might be much more than a flex option.
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