Touchdowns saved Todd Gurley's Fantasy value in 2019, and they might do so again in 2020. That's because the Falcons have consistently registered a bunch of running back rushes both in the red zone (at least 43 per year over the past five) and inside the 10-yard line (at least 20 per year over the past five). Not that those numbers would make Gurley swoon - he's averaged 57 red-zone carries and 32 totes inside the 10 over his past three seasons in Sean McVay's offense. If Gurley doesn't share the ball much and if he stays healthy, collecting north of 10 touchdowns should be within his reach. Those are big ifs, as is his ability to rack up yardage after barely topping 1,050 total yards in 2019. Gurley appears to be less explosive following his knee issues from over a year ago. It makes his touchdown production that much more important. Gurley can be had as late as 30th overall, a decent discount compared to past years, but it's not without risk. He's clearly not the No. 1 running back he once was, even if he's on a team that could use him just as much as his previous team did.
Gurley's one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Falcons should be considered "an absolute steal," per Jeff Kerr of CBSSports.com. The former Georgia standout and 2017 AP Offensive Player of the Year returns to the Peach State on a "prove it" deal, as the Falcons exchange one veteran back for another, releasing Devonta Freeman for the 25-year-old Gurley. Despite having 5,404 rushing yards and 70 total touchdowns to his name in five professional campaigns, the prolific Gurley still finds himself with something to prove entering 2020. His production slipped substantially during 2019, as he dropped from a 4.9 yards-per-carry average in 2018 to a 3.8 yards-per-rush clip last year. Gurley also won't be working behind the most impressive offensive line of his career when he first suits up for Atlanta. Pro Football Focus graded the Falcons' offensive line 24th best in the NFL following the 2019 season, and the only notable upgrade the team has made since is acquiring third-round lineman Matt Hennessy.
Gurley traveled to Atlanta and passed a physical examination Monday, Orlando D. Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Gurley signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Falcons on April 10 but wasn't able to meet with a team physician until two months later. He recently took part in private workouts with Matt Ryan, who said he was impressed by the veteran running back. Gurley will turn 26 in August, and while he wasn't effective in Los Angeles last season, he could be headed for a big 2020 workload as the No. 1 guy on what's arguably the weakest backfield depth chart in the NFL. The Falcons have Ito Smith, Brian Hill, Qadree Ollison and Craig Reynolds behind Gurley.
Matt Ryan has been pleased with what he's seen from Gurley during private workouts in California over recent weeks, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports. While the veteran running back has not yet been able to take his physical because of the Falcons' team facility remaining closed to players, he seems confident concerning the status of his surgically reconstructed left ACL. Amidst workouts with Ryan in Huntington Beach, CA, Gurley has steadily drawn praise from his new quarterback. "I've gotten to work with Todd and he's awesome," Ryan told ESPN. "I was really impressed with his ability to retain information. You don't have to tell him twice. He's on it." Gurley's success in 2020 hinges on how well his body continues to hold up against the physical demands of the RB position, but early indications are positive as he builds camaraderie with Ryan.
Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said that he won't be able to confirm what Gurley's workload will be until the running back can be evaluated in person, Kelsey Conway of the team's official site reports. Given that Gurley has still yet to take his physical with the Falcons as a result of the ongoing pandemic, Koetter was unwilling to guess at precisely how often he is expected to play. "He can do everything. He's an excellent runner, he's good in the pass game [and] he can protect," Koetter explained. "The main question no one seems to know is, 'What's his health status? What is his workload?'" Gurley accounted for a career-worst 1,064 scrimmage yards during 2019, causing many to attribute his reduced productivity to a report that indicated the presence of an arthritic component to his knee. Now heading back to the state of his college alma matter, Gurley's health remains a question mark as he begins a journey to revitalize his career within the Falcons' high-powered offense.
Gurley still hasn't taken a physical exam to finalize his deal with the Falcons, Andrew Siciliano of NFL.com reports. Gurley remains in California, unable to meet with team doctors in the midst of a pandemic. The Falcons don't expect this to be a major issue, as they presumably signed him to a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the understanding that his oft-discussed left knee is far from ideal. While the quality of his play hasn't exactly been consistent, Gurley did play 14 or more regular-season games each of the past four years for the Rams. There is some small chance, however, that a physical exam could nullify his agreement to sign with Atlanta.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|4||10/06||@Green Bay Packers||26||21.22|
|11||11/22||@New Orleans Saints||4||13.24|
|12||11/29||Las Vegas Raiders||15||17.38|
|13||12/06||New Orleans Saints||4||13.24|
|14||12/13||@Los Angeles Chargers||22||18.88|
|15||12/20||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1||10.63|
|16||12/27||@Kansas City Chiefs||23||20.37|
|17||01/03||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1||10.63|
|3 Year Avg||253||1138||14||51||525||4||271|