Back in early May, ESPN Fantasy Football Writer Mike Clay had a familiar face atop his updated fantasy football rankings: Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley:
Some people will get cute and go another direction, but Gurley is a near lock to be the consensus No. 1 overall pick in 2019 fantasy drafts. He deserves it after pacing the position in fantasy points in 2017 and finishing within the weekly top 10 a position-high 11 times in 2018.
Now, I’d have a clear dispute here clearly given the numbers I tossed out in a statistical projection I discussed two weeks ago. That dispute would be less about the numbers (I put out 15 touchdowns for Just Todd which would still have led the league in the rushing touchdowns in 2018) and more about the “deserves it” part followed by using 2018’s fantasy output because of what we know.
We know his knee is, um, precarious. We know the Rams traded up in the 3rd round of the 2019 NFL Draft to select rookie RB Darrell Henderson. Given those two factors, I’m not sure Todd “deserves” to top most fantasy drafts nor that that his 2018 season especially before Week 15 is entirely relevant in a vacuum.
Underscoring that hesitancy was Clay himself last week tabbing Henderson as the Rams’ addition with the biggest fantasy implication this offseason:
2019 projection: 108 carries, 487 yards, 3 TDs; 20 receptions, 172 yards, 1 TD
Eyebrows were raised when the Rams traded up to select Henderson in the third round. The move was especially interesting considering that workhorse Todd Gurley struggled with his health while being outplayed by C.J. Anderson down the stretch last season. Though Henderson could simply share backup duties with Malcolm Brown this season, the rookie’s fantasy value will skyrocket if Gurley were to miss time. Henderson’s rushing efficiency at Memphis was ridiculous, as he averaged an astounding 8.88 yards per carry on 130 attempts in 2017 before improving to 8.92 YPC on 214 carries in 2018. He needs to be on fantasy rosters regardless of Gurley’s health.
Now, we should acknowledge Clay’s blurb on Gurley in his previous piece was written early in the offseason. His blurb on Henderson was written with the advantage of all the knowledge we’ve gained re: Gurley in the last four months. And that’s kind of the point.
Knowing what we know now, is it reasonable to take Gurley at the top of fantasy drafts? Top five? Ten?
What say you, Rams fans?