Was there a bigger disappointment at the running back position last year? After Gurley’s 1,100 yard, 4.8 YPC, 10 TD rookie season he looked primed to be a top 3 fantasy back. After all, he only played in 13 games during his rookie season and finished as the running back 5 in standard scoring.
But then came the sophomore slump. He played in all 16 games, and rushed 49 more times compared to his rookie season, but due to his YPC dropping to 3.2 he ended the year with 221 less yards.
If you’re already in a dynasty league with Gurley on your roster don’t panic. He’s a solid RB2 with legitimate RB1 upside. The Rams offense was abysmal last year, and much of that had to do with Jared Goff under center, a weak receiving core, and Jeff Fisher’s coaching. Jeff Fisher is gone now, and Sean McVay has taken over the head coaching duties. Don’t be surprised if we find out this year that Goff isn’t that bad. Don’t get me wrong, he’s bad. But, is he that bad?
Now, if you’re doing a startup dynasty draft, where should you take Gurley? Currently Gurley is going in the 2nd round of most startup draft mock’s, and that’s probably a good value for him. The first round is too early, since there are other options with better situations, and you need Gurley to live up to his potential when you draft him in the first. If Gurley is available in the 3rd round you take him. Even if you went RB with your first two picks, if for some reason your league is refusing to draft Gurley, you take him in the third.
The ceiling for Gurley is probably the 4th or 5th RB. It’s not likely the Rams offense has improved enough for him to get past Elliot, Bell, and Johnson, but top 5 is conceivable with his talent and workload. As the only legitimate weapon in Los Angeles, rumors are that Gurley will be used as a pass catcher out of the backfield also, which would mean a big boost in production in full-point and half-point PPR scoring formats.
It’s tempting to put Gurley’s floor as a low end RB1, but that’s probably a little too optimistic. What is fair, however, is to note that as awful as last season was for Gurley and the Rams, he still finished as an RB2. It would be shocking, barring injury of course, for Gurley to end up lower than the 20th RB this year with the improvements at the head coaching position, and Gurley’s involvement as the focal point of the offense. For a 2nd round pick, his worst case scenario still gives you a solid RB2.
Gurley faces the 28th easiest strength of schedule for a running back this year, and at only 23 years old, he’s an elite talent. Last year was horrible, and if you had him on your team you were completely disappointed. But, Gurley is the same running back we saw his rookie year. He hasn’t lost a step, and defenses didn’t figure out how to stop him. Gurley just happened to be on a poorly coached Rams offense. He’s still on that Rams offense, but the coaching (hopefully) has improved. He has nowhere to go but up…Right?