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 by Elvis
4 days ago
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 Joined:  Mar 28 2015
United States of America   Los Angeles
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https://subscribers.footballguys.com/ap ... dtable-wk2

FOR AND AGAINST TODD GURLEY AND LESEAN MCCOY

Matt Waldman: Todd Gurley was one of the most polarizing fantasy commodities of the summer while many figured LeSean McCoy had little to offer until he landed in Kansas City less than two weeks ago. Now that we've seen their 2019 debuts, let's play a little game...

Supply BOTH sides of the argument for and against Gurley and McCoy as a viable starter in lineups using two running backs.

Share whether you're buying or selling each runner.

To get things started, I was the highest on staff with my rankings of both runners. After watching Gurley on Sunday, I believe he performed well enough that his 60/40 workload split is on the lower side of the Rams distribution plans for the season because the Rams had a 13-point lead for much of the game and it was Gurley's first live-action all year. Now that the Rams eased Gurley into playing time, I expect a distribution closer to 65-70 percent and more red-zone touches.

This is lower than the near 80 percent share of the running back workload Gurley has earned in the past under Sean McVay when healthy, but it remains enough volume for Gurley to deliver no worse than top-15 production at this position. Considering how efficient Gurley was with his carries against a pretty good Panthers defense, I'm less alarmed about Malcolm Brown's workload. Last year, there were two games while Gurley was still healthy where Brown earned at least a 40 percent share of the workload. Both were contests where the Ram had solid leads early in the game like what we saw on Sunday.

Taking the opposite end of the Gurley argument, the 60/40 distribution between Gurley and Brown could be a best-case for Gurley if the Rams continue winning and Brown performs as he's capable. At this point, the drafting of Gurley as a second-round pick turns into an investment with no upside and several avenues that lead to a potential downside.

Brown is well-suited as a red-zone. He's a big, strong, and bruising runner with underrated short-area quickness and patience. He's essentially a better-conditioned C.J. Anderson and the Detroit Lions pegged Brown as its first choice during free agency until the Rams matched the deal and Detroit "settled" for Anderson.

Gurley's red zone opportunities not only created the potential for elite fantasy totals but also buoyed his production during sub-par yardage performances. Brown's role could eliminate this safety net for Gurley's fantasy production. If the Rams jump to early leads we could see Brown relegate Gurley to minimal touches and lots of bench time to keep Gurley fresh for closer games, tough matchups, and the playoffs.

If this is the case, Gurley may earn a lot of touches in tougher matchups but we lose out on his potential to have stellar weeks against the easiest opponents. And of course, there's the arthritic knee. Gurley looked good this week but there was a run where I wondered if he would have transformed the play into a breakaway effort a year or two ago. While this thought is purely speculative about his acceleration, we know that his knee is a ticking time bomb for his career—we just don't know the length of the fuse.

I buying Gurley if I can get him for the price of a fantasy RB2 or RB3 in three-back formats. I might go as high as offering a receiver like Tyrell Williams and maybe a key reserve for my opponent's roster. I'd also consider offering a top tight end like Zach Ertz or George Kittle if I had T.J. Hockenson or Darren Waller.

Let's hear your thoughts on Gurley.

Daniel Simpkins Matt, are you really making us go full Skip Bayless and asking us to debate ourselves?

Waldman: I was thinking more like your grandpa when he's grumpy and grandma told him to take out the trash, but I suppose Bayless is that guy too.

Simpkins: Ok, I’ll play along, but you won’t get me into one of those hideous suits he wears.

Despite limited usage in week one, Gurley is still going to be fine for fantasy in the long-term. Matt shared some excellent clips in his Top 10 article that show that Gurley is physically sound again and not limited to straight-line running, as he seemed to be after last year’s knee injury sustained in the Chiefs game. It’s likely that the coaching staff is just easing him back in after he did not play the entire preseason. Perhaps tempering expectations for the next couple of weeks will help fantasy general managers to get through this rough patch of production until he is up to speed.

The fear with Gurley is that the coaching staff got a wake-up call when he was injured and could not play to the effectiveness that he had enjoyed previously. They saw what their offense would be like without him and they decided that they should do everything possible to extend his career. As part of that plan, they extended Malcolm Brown to be the short-term committee option and drafted Darrell Henderson to be the long-term committee option. The days of Gurley being a true feature back are behind him.

I buy the former argument over the latter one. That means I’m trying to buy low on Gurley before his usage creeps back closer to what it was last year.

Andy Hicks: The pro argument is fairly straight forward. The Rams are saving Todd Gurley and using other backs to spread the load.

As we saw unfold last season, he wore down. This year, he will be managed and be used to maybe 80-90 percent of his previous usage. With well over 20-23 touches a game previously I would expect that to drop to somewhere between 18-20 a game. Because Gurley is one of the best backs in the league, what he does with those touches still easily makes him a starting running back.

The against argument relies on his lack of red-zone touches, the competent supporting cast, and his potential to wear down again. All fine if the Rams are winning games easily and cruising to the playoffs.

I would be buying Gurley as long as there was a reasonable seller. Gurley is one of the best backs in the league and will see more touches than all but a handful of backs. While his touchdowns may not be at the stratospheric number of years gone by he is going to be a clear fantasy starter if not potential league winner. A 10 percent drop in his stats from last year, still would have ranked him third. A 20 percent drop still would have resulted in a fifth-place finish. This is despite Gurley missing two games and playing hampered in others.

Dan Hindery: Based upon what we saw Week 1, Gurley has to be in your starting lineup unless your roster is incredibly loaded. He played 70 percent of the snaps and ran a route on 71 percent of the passing plays. Those are both solid numbers.

The fact that Goff only targeted him once is a bit concerning but unless we see that become a trend, we can write it off as a bit fluky considering how often Gurley was running routes. The lack of goal-line usage is also easy to write off as fluky. Malcolm Brown got most of the looks around the end zone but that was because he saw work in two complete drives and those ended with goalline opportunities.

Brown didn't sub in at the goal line for Gurley on any of Gurley's drives and Gurley still managed 97 yards despite touching it only 14 times. We can feel fairly confident he is going to get into the end zone at a decent rate moving forward.

I can’t make the argument for benching Gurley at this point. At the very least, he is a solid RB2. However, I am selling if I can get anywhere near what his value was in drafts a couple of weeks ago.

There is no reason to panic about Gurley being a huge fantasy bust. Still, the very early returns point to him likely being more of a solid RB2 than an elite RB1 and not fully living up to his ADP.

It’s been almost nine months since we last saw the Rams feed Gurley a bunch of touches in a game. We can shrug off any single game with excuses but as it happens, again and again, we should probably just assume Gurley is a 15-touch-per-game-back until we see some proof he isn’t.

Waldman: Love the context behind the red-zone touches for Brown, Dan. I didn't even consider that point.

Will Grant: To land Gurley, you had to spend at least a second-round pick—often a first. He was on the field for 70 percent of the offensive snaps for the Rams so the opportunity is there. Given how he finished last season and the easy workload he had over the summer, it makes sense that they would pull him near the goal line to 'ease' him back into the season. He's on the field and will get more opportunities as the season progresses. Be patient.

As others have said, I don't think you can bench him unless you are in a 10-team league and have other alternatives. Earning 15 touches isn't what you hoped it would be but you have to look at this as the absolute floor. Even with those limited touches, he had 100 yards from scrimmage. The only way that you bench him at this point is if you think that volume will decline, which I don't see.

Hold Steady is my official answer. I suppose if I could convince someone to trade him for Tarik Cohen or Rex Burkhead, I'd consider it but the reality is Gurley owners aren't selling him for anything less than 2nd round value. That means they'll want a guy like Dalvin Cook or Leonard Fournette as a return pick and If I have either of those guys, I'm not giving them up for Gurley right now. If I had Gurley and someone offered me Cook or Fournette, I'd probably take it.

Maurile Tremblay: The argument for Gurley is that in his four years in the league, he has three top-five fantasy finishes at his position, including number-one finishes in each of the past two seasons. He's in a high-powered offense that will have a lot of red zone opportunities, and Gurley is a terrific goal-line runner.

The argument against Gurley is that his knee went haywire at the end of last season, and it may happen again. In the meantime, in order to reduce the risk of recurrence, the Rams will apparently give him a reduced workload compared to past seasons. In Week 1, he had only 15 touches. He looked strong on those touches. He can be a viable fantasy starter on 15 touches a week, but it will be as an RB2 rather than an RB1. It's also a bad sign that Malcolm Brown, not Gurley, got the close-range touchdowns.

I'm buying for the right price. Some of his owners are panicking based on Week 1, but I liked what I saw from him, and I expect the Rams to use Gurley on the goal line in most cases. That's how they'll maximize their chance of scoring.

Chad Parsons: The supportive argument for Todd Gurley includes his track record as not an RB1, but THE RB1 in all of fantasy. Gurley is a special talent on a strong offense and his snap count and efficiency in Week 1 was encouraging he is good to go (or at least more than late last season) physically.

The counterargument is that Malcolm Brown (who is a legit talent in his own right) looked fantastic near the goal line and earned two touchdowns. Also, Gurley was not used in the passing game. If short-range touchdown opportunities are limited AND Gurley is not a high volume receiver, he is destined for RB2-land this season. I am one of the biggest Malcolm Brown fans out there (own him in more than 40 percent of my dynasty leagues), but think health is the only thing between Gurley and a top-8 to top-10 fantasy season in 2019.

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1 post Sep 17 2019