Todd Gurley went from a bust in 2016 to the best player in Fantasy last year. Let's hope he stays on that level. He had the most Fantasy points for a non-quarterback in a standard league since Chris Johnson had more than 2,000 total yards and 19 touchdowns in 2009. He also added 64 receptions, which was fifth among running backs, and everything seemed to click for Gurley in what turned out to be an MVP-caliber campaign (he finished second in the NFL MVP voting to Tom Brady). The talent around Gurley was much better in 2017 -- Jared Goff improved, the offensive line was upgraded and the receiving corps was better, but the biggest difference was new coach Sean McVay helping Gurley become a star. Gurley enters this season as the projected No. 1 overall pick in the majority of leagues, and he should continue to play at a high level in 2018. The Rams are on the rise this year, and Gurley is the catalyst of this high-powered offense.
The Rams have picked up Gurley's fifth-year contract option, USA Today reports. The running back is thus under contract with the team through the 2019 season. Keeping Gurley around was a no-brainer for the Rams, following a stellar 2017 campaign in which the 23-year-old carried 279 times for 1,305 yards and 13 TDs while adding 64 catches for 788 yards and six receiving scores in 15 games. The 2015 first-rounder heads into the coming season as the Rams' undisputed top running back and one of the elite fantasy options at his position. Heading into the draft, Gurley's top backups are Malcolm Brown and Justin Davis, neither of whom presents a major threat to his workload.
Gurley rushed 14 times for 101 yards and caught four passes for another 10 yards during Saturday's 26-13 loss to Atlanta in the wild-card round. Gurley joined historic company this season by leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage and total touchdowns, and while he struggled to get going early Saturday, his numbers at the conclusion of the game were up to his usual standard. Unfortunately, Los Angeles turned the ball over twice on special-team returns in the first quarter, and it put the offense in a tough spot. While the Rams stuck around until late in the fourth quarter, those turnovers proved to be too much to overcome, and Gurley handling just 14 carries certainly wasn't in head coach Sean McVay's gameplan.
Gurley will be held out for Sunday's regular-season finale against the 49ers, Rich Hammond of the Los Angeles Daily News reports. With his team destined for either the NFC's No. 3 or 4 slot for the postseason, head coach Sean McVay determined that keeping his stars healthy is more important than the minor difference in seeding. He might have decided otherwise if the Eagles' Carson Wentz (knee) were still healthy, as the No. 3 seed can't face the No. 1 seed in the divisional round. In any case, Malcolm Brown should lead the Rams backfield this weekend, with Lance Dunbar, Tavon Austin and Justin Davis also candidates to get work out of the backfield. While MVP voters won't explicitly hold this against Gurley, it probably wouldn't have hurt his case to face a San Francisco defense that he ripped for 149 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns back in Week 3. A repeat performance in Week 17 would have vaulted him into the top 20 of the NFL's all-time single-season scrimmage yards list and the top 15 for the single-season touchdowns list.
Rams head coach Sean McVay suggested Tuesday that Gurley and several other key starters could be rested for the regular-season finale Sunday against the 49ers, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com reports. Regardless of the outcome of Sunday's game, the Rams will finish the regular season as the NFC's No. 3 or 4 seed, which grants the team a first-round home playoff game in either scenario. Competing for the No. 3 spot isn't as important of a priority for McVay as keeping the Rams' core contributors healthy for the postseason, so it appears Gurley's run of late-season dominance will come to an end Week 17. Even if active Sunday, Gurley, who led many fantasy owners to championships with eight touchdowns and 591 yards from scrimmage over the past three weeks, will likely only see limited snaps. That would presumably pave the way for Malcolm Brown to act as the team's lead back against San Francisco, with Lance Dunbar and Justin Davis likely working in change-of-pace roles.
Gurley rushed 22 times for 118 yards and added 10 catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns on 13 targets in Sunday's 27-23 win over the Titans. The Gurley from his first two years would likely have struggled against Tennessee's third-ranked run defense, but his improvement as a receiver out of the backfield allowed the third-year running back to thrive against the Titans' 25th-ranked pass defense. He found pay dirt on a three-yard catch in the first quarter and scored again on an 80-yard screen pass in the second. Gurley's jump from zero receiving touchdowns in his first two years to six this season is a big factor behind his team's 11-4 record and NFC West crown.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|3||09/23||Los Angeles Chargers||23||18.38|
|7||10/22||@San Francisco 49ers||19||17.75|
|8||10/28||Green Bay Packers||16||17.38|
|9||11/04||@New Orleans Saints||12||17.22|
|11||11/20||Kansas City Chiefs||20||17.76|
|17||12/30||San Francisco 49ers||19||17.75|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||262||1099||10||43||434||2||222|