Fantasy instant debate: Todd Gurley's draft value

With Todd Gurley avoiding the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to begin training camp, how early would you select him in drafts?

  • Michael Fabiano NFL Media Senior Fantasy Analyst
  • Gurley could start slow, finish strong

There's still some risk in drafting Gurley, who could open the season with a lighter workload than Tre Mason as the Rams look to ease him back into the offense. In fact, I wouldn't be shocked if Mason were actually the better fantasy option for the first few weeks. With that said, I'd still target the rookie out of Georgia as a high-end No. 3 fantasy back/flex starter in most leagues. While he could start off slowly, Gurley is the type of player who can make a major impact as the season rolls on. I'd have no problem grabbing him at the end of Round 5 or the beginning of Round 6.

  • Alex Gelhar NFL Media Writer/Editor
  • Looking up at Gurley's high ceiling

I consider myself lucky that I'll get to see Gurley in the preseason before any of my main leagues hold their fantasy drafts. However, if I were forced to draft now, I'd be comfortable taking Gurley in the fifth round, and maybe even the fourth depending on how the board was falling to me. While there are certainly question marks with the former Georgia Bulldog, his ceiling is just too high to ignore at that point. He's currently my RB19, after proven contributors like Alfred Morris and Lamar Miller, but before other young backs with high-ceilings (and loads of questions) like Carlos Hyde, Latavius Murray and even Joseph Randle.

  • Marcas Grant NFL Media Fantasy Editor
  • High-five for Gurley

Learning that Todd Gurley was likely going to be available for the start of training camp was a pleasant surprise -- emphasis on the word surprise. After hearing the news, I moved him up to the 23rd-ranked running back and would certainly consider him in the fifth or sixth round. Despite the good news, there is still some reason to be concerned. According to reports, the Rams aren't likely to rush Gurley into a big role to begin the season with Mason expected to take the "lion's share" of the carries. Then there's the issue of Gurley (and Mason, for that matter) playing in a Rams offense that has lacked both an identity and a direction in the past couple of seasons. We've seem this team squander talent in the past and there's no guarantee they won't do it again. Nonetheless with St. Louis investing so much in a player they believe can be the team's future at running back, it's a wise decision to expect quality production. Even if Gurley doesn't begin the season as the starter, he should take over the job before the year is over.

  • Matt Franciscovich NFL Media Associate Fantasy Editor
  • Build a foundation before Gurley

There's a big difference when it comes to a player suiting up for a game and being effective from a fantasy perspective. So while it's a great sign that Todd Gurley avoided the PUP list, there is still no promising when the Rams' first round draft pick will be able to shoulder the massive workload expected of a starting NFL running back. Optimistic minded fantasy enthusiasts will naturally draw comparisons of Gurley's recovery to Adrian Peterson's triumphant return in 2012 in which he started Week 1 of with 84 rushing yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns following an ACL tear a mere nine months prior. But St. Louis is fortunate enough to have other options (Tre Mason) and will be looking to mitigate the risk on their investment as much as possible.

It's already been reported that Mason is expected to get the "lion's share" of carries early in the season which is reason enough to not let him slip beyond Round 6. Mason averaged 16.5 rushes per game from Week 9 on last season, so even if Gurley is healthy enough to share a split workload, I don't see him getting enough opportunities to contribute to fantasy teams in big way early on. Gurley's Round 5 ADP is a little too rich for my liking when there are proven runners available like Andre Ellington still on the board at that point. While he has much greater value in keeper leagues, I'd be more comfortable picking up the rookie runner somewhere between Rounds 7-9 in redraft formats this draft season, after I've already built a solid foundation at running back.

  • Matt Harmon NFL Media Associate Fantasy Editor
  • Preaching cautious optimism

This is a tough question, because my firm stance all summer was that I'd be fading Todd Gurley this season. The former Georgia star would frequently go off the board in the fourth or fifth rounds in drafts after the Rams took him 10th overall. Paying that high of a price for a guy who seemed likely to miss time early in the season felt foolish to me. That is, until he avoided starting training camp on the PUP list. The Rams appear to be putting Gurley on the fast track to take over as this offense's centerpiece. The physical talent with this player is unquestionable, and his track record in college is hard proof of that. The only trouble is whether the Rams are the right situation for that to shine through, and that proposition comes with many problems. Contrary to conventional thought, offenses with high-octane passing games are more conducive to fantasy success for young running backs (think Eddie Lacy or C.J. Anderson), rather than power run games. With Jeff Fisher and Nick Foles at the helm, the Rams are the farthest thing from an aggressive aerial attack. St. Louis also could start multiple rookies on an offensive line with much to prove. Even though Gurley is an ultra-talented running back, he'll have to do a ton to overcome a situation not ready made for big numbers. With that in mind, I still feel closer to my original stance of fading than suddenly encouraged to take the plunge in the required rounds. Although I'm less firm in my reject of Gurley's stock, and can see a good argument for taking him. With Tre Mason still in the fold, I'd be interested in taking a stab at him if his ADP keeps falling. He might be able to maintain stand-alone value in this run heavy offense, even with Gurley shouldering the heavy load.

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