In 2018, Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley rushed for 1251 yards and 17 TDs, and tacked on another 580 yards and 4 TDs receiving. By most measures, it was a season that rivaled his 2017 Offensive Player of the Year campaign.
We all (kind of) know what happened next.
Gurley’s knee sidelined him for the final two games of the regular season. That, along with the prior injury to RB2 Malcolm Brown (roster preview) , brought about the signing of RB C.J. Anderson, who became the hottest back in the NFL. Despite a strong performance in the divisional game against the Dallas Cowboys, Gurley was ineffective in the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl.
Given that Gurley signed a massive offseason extension, the haters came out in full force. Had the Rams paid him too early? Even if the rookie wage scale for RBs is an unfair one? While we’re here, what if the Rams hadn’t paid him and he was now heading into a contract year in lame duck territory with an iffy knee? Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, and Melvin Gordon, are you paying attention?
Despite a resume brimming with accolades, endorsements as far as the eye can see, and a contract that pays him among the NFL’s best at his position, 2019 figures to be a year of redemption and transition for Just Todd. With his bellcow days likely behind him, this is the year that will chart the course for the rest of his career.
#30 isn’t in danger of sliding down the depth chart to the likes of rookie RB Darrell Henderson (roster preview), Brown or RB John Kelly (roster preview), but certainly his usage will be the focus of extreme scrutiny from fans, fantasy geeks, and oddsmakers alike.
After shedding a few pounds this offseason, camp videos show a sleek, fast, and powerful runner. Surprised? I’m not.
While I am always one to say “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” I do think reports of Gurley’s arthritic knee have been exaggerated. With proper management and a lighter workload, he’ll remain the dynamic playmaker we’ve all come to expect. I’d guess he’ll see 5-6 less touches per game, ceding some totes and catches to Henderson and Brown, and taking a few more series off than we’re used to seeing. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see 1,400 all-purpose and double-digit TDs with the caveat that the Rams will do anything and everything to ensure that Gurley is good to go for the postseason.
Chances of making the final roster (10/10)