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Todd Gurley Prop Pick: Why There’s Value Betting the Under on His Rushing Yards with Falcons

Todd Gurley Prop Pick: Why There’s Value Betting the Under on His Rushing Yards with Falcons article feature image

Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured: Todd Gurley

Todd Gurley Prop Pick for 2020

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Todd Gurley’s arthritic knee was a significant question mark heading into 2019. I had him projected for 206 rush attempts, 920 yards and 10.1 rushing touchdowns, and he ended up with a 223/857/12 line.

While he beat out my projections in terms of volume, his efficiency was considerably down. Now it’s safe to assume that, at 26 years of age, Gurley will continue to decline. He’s also going from the 26th-ranked team in run blocking (per Pro Football Focus) to the 11th. This could help his 3.84 yards per rush from a year ago regress closer to his 4.3 career average.

I’m projecting Gurley to average 4.20 yards per rush in Atlanta, but this prop will ultimately come down to volume. I have him projected for 14.5 rush attempts per game to go along with 14.5 games played, so that’s:

210 projected rush attempts * 4.20 yards per rush * 14.5 games played = 883 total rushing yards

A quick note about games played: The top 50 running backs in rush attempts per game last season finished with a median of 14.5 games played, which validates my long-time process of projecting RBs to miss 1.5 games (assuming there aren’t other reasons to believe a RB will be more durable or fragile).

There are many reasons to favor the under when it comes to season-long props thanks to the various “outs” they offer.

Among those outs are any games a player misses due to injury or suspension as every game missed makes the under much more likely to hit. The markets tend to underestimate that factor.

Another out is a player not seeing the volume we expect them to because their teammates step into more prominent roles and eat into their overall volume.

The latter example could favor Gurley’s under as we could see the Falcons use their backup RBs much more than we saw the Rams do last season.

We have to remember that Malcolm Brown suffered an ankle injury in Week 2 that eventually led him to miss three games and continue to nag him all year. Darrell Henderson, meanwhile, was not ready to handle many touches his rookie season. His poor vision and inability to pick up on the Rams’ blocking scheme to find running lanes led to the coaching staff’s lack of confidence in giving him an increase in snaps in an effort to keep Gurley fresh. Henderson’s slow development forced the Rams to use Gurley much more than they would have liked.

The Falcons, meanwhile, run the ball considerably less than the Rams and have two backups — Ito Smith and Brian Hill — who already know how to run in this offense.

Atlanta will likely be able to have Hill spell Gurley on running plays, and spell Gurley on passing downs with Smith, which could allow the Falcons to keep keep Gurley fresh by keeping his rush attempts relatively low — one of the many reasons under 1,050.5 rushing yards hits about 70% of the time in my projections.

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