I’m not sure there is a more polarizing NFL player in Fantasy Football this year than Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley.
We know that when Gurley is healthy, he is one of the best backs in the league. He is coming off of a 2018 campaign in which he rushed for 1,251 yards and a league-leading 17 touchdowns while averaging 4.9 yards per carry. In addition, he hauled in 59 receptions for 580 yards and four scores.
But the operative word there is “healthy.”
Is Gurley healthy heading into 2019?
The 25-year-old injured his knee in Week 15 of last year and missed the final two games of the season. He then returned for the Divisional Round of the playoffs and looked just fine, rushing for 115 yards and a couple of touchdowns, but he was a virtual no-show in both the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl, leading many to wonder about the status of his knee.
Throw in the fact that he didn’t deny that there was an “arthritic component” to his knee earlier this offseason and that he has given very vague reports about it all spring and summer, and there certainly seems to be cause for concern.
With the Rams getting set to take on the Carolina Panthers in their season opener on Sunday, many are wondering just what type of workload Gurley will have.
Let’s put it this way: Gurley’s workload will almost certainly be reduced from the last few years, and Los Angeles has already seemed to hint at this throughout the offseason.
The Rams really seem to like rookie third-round pick Darrell Henderson, and Malcolm Brown also figures to get some reps. Don’t be surprised if Sean McVay spreads out the carries between all three halfbacks.
Of course, Gurley will still be the featured back, but the days of him getting 20-plus carries might be over.
At the very least, LA is going to want to preserve Gurley for the playoffs and the future. Even if his knee is 100 percent, I highly doubt the Rams are going to push Gurley early on in the season.
For that reason, it seems doubtful that Gurley will be his typical dynamite Fantasy option in Week 1, and to be brutally honest, it’s debatable if he will ever reach that point at any period this season.
Gurley is the focal point of Los Angeles’ offense, so McVay and Co. will almost certainly want to treat him with kid gloves. Yes, Jared Goff is good and the Rams have several really good receivers, but the offense revolves around Gurley.
So what if Los Angeles pushes the envelope with Gurley in Week 1 and he ends up re-aggravating his knee? Or what if he gets 25 carries and seems fine but then feels the effects of it later on in the season?
Don’t think for a second that Los Angeles doesn’t have all of this in mind.
I’m not saying Todd Gurley is going to turn into a pumpkin, but if you are expecting him to be the same First-Team All-Pro running back he has been each of the last two seasons, you might be in for some disappointment.