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On the Fence with Todd Gurley

Byjlinleybrown

Aug 3, 2020

By Jake Linley-Brown (@JakeLB12)

Last week, I turned 30 years old. Despite not feeling any wiser or more experienced with anything in my life, I notice more than ever how much my joints and bones ache. Like, proper old man ache. It was whilst staring at the Osgood-Schlatter bump on my left knee (it’s common in kids, I’m not tough) when I thought about the focus of my next article.

Todd Gurley, who’s 4 years my junior, has a left knee which would rival that of any Saga holiday customer. The talent is unquestionably there, but how much has the league’s 2-time rushing touchdown leader got left?

Rushing AttRushing YardsYards Per AttTDReceptions
2238573.81231 (207yds)
2019 stats


Gurley started 15 games last season – 15! – and those were the totals above. If you were watching closely, however, those starts were pretty hollow. As the quarters/games/weeks rolled by, he was missing more and more snaps. Clips of him sitting on the side-line looking off into the distance, seemingly un-engaged, were becoming the norm. Any star player who looked like that every Sunday would be under scrutiny. What is going on people would ask?

Funnily enough, people actually asked google the same question(s). The first 3 questions on a ‘Todd Gurley’ search results page are: ‘Is Todd Gurley injured?’, ‘Does Todd Gurley have arthritis?’ and ‘Why did Todd Gurley not play much?’. Truth be told, basically nobody knows the real truth even now. But whatever way you paint it, it looks bad.

The downturn in numbers is real. Gurley recorded lower numbers in almost every metric last season compared to the stats of 17 & 18. If we’re being fair for one second, and that’s what I’m all about in these articles – fairness- then 12 touchdowns (on the ground) last season is still pretty good by anybody’s standards. But the focus and the problem here are the trends.

The 3-time pro bowler is known for bowling people over and delivering a gnarly stiff arm at the exact precise moment. But 3.8 yards per attempt (compared to the previous season’s 4.9) would indicate his style of old may be on the wane. Heck, the Rams released Gurley in March moments before his contract became guaranteed money. You wouldn’t be alone in thinking Todd may be toast.

A 2019 comparison of Todd Gurley and Devonta Freeman - The Falcoholic
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s go all upbeat now for a change of pace as the past few paragraphs make for miserable reading. Sometimes, a change of scenery is all you need, and what better place than going back to college (sort of). Gurley’s new stomping ground is of course, Atlanta, which is not too far from his old University of Georgia dormitory. Gurley was by all accounts a stud in his college years and here’s hoping he can get back some of his old mojo.

With a change of scenery comes a change of quarterback. Matt Ryan is now handing off the ball, and you would think that adds to the chance of a comeback year. Gurley’s last QB and the situation his old team were in last year was, quite frankly, not ideal for someone carrying enough problems himself. Having to be the guy when you don’t feel like the guy can be taxing.

What can’t be overlooked is the career crossroad our boy now finds himself at. There will be doubters and more than a fair share of those who want to tweet out ‘he’s done’ this season at any opportunity. The 1 year deal the Falcons signed him too is essentially a ‘prove it’ deal. They’ve given him the chance, he’s behind an improved offensive line, and he’s going to have no competition for touches (no seriously, Ito Smith). It is time to give it everything in true sports movie fashion.

In fantasy football world, the chatter is mixed. ESPN have him ranked at 18 (PPR), which seems to be the territory across the board (17th-20th). FantasyPros.com are expecting a similar-ish year in numbers to last season, with their projection of 867 yards and 7.9 touchdowns (PPR). Overall points? After all, that’s the fantasy currency we’re about here at Full10Yards; 181.8 points (PPR). As you can see, the flavour of the month is ‘cautious.’


Conclusion



Boy, is this a tough one.

My first task is to understand how the Falcons will use Gurley, and the murmurings from the team imply he’s back to his favoured bell-cow role.

This gives me jitters as recent reports from multiple publications state the knee is still a big issue. If I draft a running back in the second round, which is his current ADP, I want a sure thing or damn near close.

To me, with everything we know at this point, that’s one massive roll of a weighted dice I can’t get on board with.