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Football Outsiders Almanac 2018 Preview Q&A: Todd Gurley’s near-MVP follow-up

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Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2015. Hugely disappointing 2016. Near-MVP in 2017. What does Just Todd Gurley have in store for 2018?

Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley sprints away from Indianapolis Colts defenders in a Week 1 46-9 win, September 10, 2017.
Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley sprints away from Indianapolis Colts defenders in a Week 1 46-9 win, September 10, 2017.
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

We’re partnering with Football Outsiders again this year to promote the release of the Football Outsiders Almanac 2018. FO continues to raise the bar for quantitative analysis, and the 2018 almanac is proof positive. In our five-part preview, we’ll look at how they modeled the 2017 Los Angeles Rams and what they’re looking at for 2018 with FO’s Bryan Knowles (@BryKno).

Pt. I: An offense renewed

Pt. II: Defense rising


Should Los Angeles Rams fans brace for a dropoff from RB Todd Gurley? Not necessarily because of his play individually or skill set, but because of the factors around him on the roster and in terms of what the coaching staff is trying to do?

We actually don’t have Gurley with much of a drop-off at all. It’s tough to play at an MVP level for multiple seasons, but there’s nothing in Gurley’s game which screams regression for 2018. He’s only turning 24. He didn’t have an excessively large workload last season, becoming only the eighth running back ever to top 2,000 yards from scrimmage with fewer than 350 touches. McVay’s system is great for him, but he’s not a system back. Gurley’s 2016 season ended up being more of a condemnation of Jeff Fisher than anything negative about Gurley.

Last year, Gurley had a 13.9% rushing DVOA; we have him projected at 11.2% this year, with a similar very small drop in receiving efficiency. That’s essentially statistical noise. We actually have him projected with more rushing yards than he had last year. Barring injury – and he doesn’t appear to be particularly at risk there – Gurley should have another very good season.