Todd Gurley Fantasy Football Projections: His 2020 Outlook with the Falcons & What to Expect from the Rams
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Todd Gurley
Todd Gurley is headed back to Georgia.
After being cut by the Rams on Thursday, Gurley agreed to a one-year deal with the Falcons on Friday. So what does his landing spot mean for his 2020 fantasy football outlook?
Two of our experts — Sean Koerner and Matthew Freedman — analyze the backfield situations in Atlanta and Los Angeles. Koerner also reveals his season-long projections for key players impacted by this move.
Todd Gurley’s 2020 Fantasy Projections & Outlook
One of the biggest mysteries heading into 2019 was how Todd Gurley’s arthritic knee would hold up. Most of us assumed he would start the season off fine, but then his usage, production and health would see a sharp decline towards the second half of the season.
It turns out most of us were wrong.
While he has clearly lost a step since his 2017 Offensive Player of the Year, he was able to stay healthy enough to play 15 games. In fact, it wasn’t until the second half of the season that the Rams even began to lean heavily on him: Gurley had 19 or more rush attempts in four of their final eight games.
This is a lateral move for Gurley’s fantasy value.
Knee concerns aside, he should slide right into the Devonta Freeman role, which isn’t a departure from Gurley’s skill sets.
It is worth noting that he’ll face more competition if the Falcons depth chart remains the same: Brian Hill and Ito Smith are familiar with the offense and are skilled enough to compete for snaps. In 2019, the Rams seemed hesitant to throw rookie Darrell Henderson out there due to being behind the curve in terms of adapting to the NFL and being able to read blocking schemes well enough to find running lanes. And backup RB Malcolm Brown was banged up for much of the season and was unable to turn the backfield into a committee. So while Gurley should see similar per-game production, his job security could be a tad lower in Atlanta.
Still, Gurley will be given every chance to succeed, which is why I’m tentatively projecting him to see roughly 14.5 rush attempts and 2.8 receptions a game. He’ll carry solid RB2 value heading into 2020.
As for the Rams, we’ll need to monitor their situation over the next few months. If they don’t bring in a veteran or spend high draft capital on a running back, it will be Brown, Henderson and John Kelly. Brown would act as the more traditional RB, seeing 10 to 15 carries a game with limited pass game involvement while Henderson would be the change-of-pace, pass-catching back.
If Henderson can improve his vision and find the running lanes his offensive line creates, he could inherit the Gurley role, but that remains to be seen.
Koerner’s 2020 Projections
- Gurley: 870 rush yards; 8.5 rush touchdowns; 41 receptions; 325 rec yards; 2.2 rec TDs (RB15)
- Henderson: 617 rush yards; 4.1 rush TDs; 42 rec; 337 rec yards; 2.3 rec TDs (RB31)
- Brown: 812 rush yards; 7.2 rush TDs; 20 rec; 162 rec yards; 0.7 rec TDs (RB33)
I’m probably too down on Gurley.
He’s likely to be the lead back and goal-line option in a high-scoring offense. He’s a strong receiver: Even in a down campaign last year, he still had 31 receptions on 49 targets. He’ll turn just 26 in August, and he has two All-Pro seasons to his name.
In his half decade of NFL action, he’s averaged 1,498.8 yards and 14 touchdowns from scrimmage per year.
By the numbers, there’s little reason to think Gurley won’t be a top-12 back this year.
But Gurley reportedly has a degenerative knee issue, and last year he had a career-low 254 touches for the season and 70.9 yards per game.
Based on what Gurley did last year and what the Falcons are likely to do on offense, it’s reasonable to project Gurley for 1,000-1,200 yards and 8-12 touchdowns if he plays 14-15 games.
But Gurley simply scares me.
After Round 5 in fantasy drafts, I focus primarily on upside: I want players who have a chance to make a real difference if they outperform their expectations.
But in Rounds 1-5, I want stability. I want players who are relatively reliable. Most players selected early in fantasy drafts have upside. What I care about more with them is their possible downside — and Gurley has significant downside in playing time and also efficiency.
Even though Gurley will likely offer value in fantasy drafts if you look at his median projection, I’ll likely avoid him unless he falls past Round 5.
In Los Angeles, I expect the Rams to replace Gurley with a committee, at least at first. Brown figures to get some run, and Henderson figures to get a shot.
But I also expect the Rams either to draft a potential lead back in a 2020 class that has some strong prospects or to bring in a veteran to challenge Henderson.
Although he has RB2 upside, right now I’m projecting Henderson to be just a rotational back.