Fantasy Football Impact: Todd Gurley Signs With Atlanta Falcons
With the news that Todd Gurley was released from the Los Angeles Rams for salary cap (and let us be honest, performance) reasons, Twitter immediately lit up with the speculation of where Gurley might go. Even if Gurley was at his worst last season, averaging 3.8 yards per carry and catching only 31 passes in 15 games, the internet always loves to speculate on where former stars might play.
WE GOT HIM. pic.twitter.com/N5aGYeYoFJ
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) March 20, 2020
In fact, there is probably a good reason to believe that part of why the Atlanta Falcons wanted to sign Todd Gurley is that 1) he attended the University of Georga and is a massive fan favorite and he would be good for selling tickets and 2) they are so used to dusty running backs (Michael Turner, Devonta Freeman, Steven Jackson) that it is part of their proud tradition. The second part of that is a joke, the first not so much.
Projecting Todd Gurley In The Falcons Backfield
Despite the Falcons featuring a timeshare for most of the last five years ever since the era of Michael Turner and Steven Jackson ended, it has usually been a productive situation for all running backs involved. Devonta Freeman posted an RB1 overall season and over multiple seasons Tevin Coleman finished RB17, RB22, and RB18 as a Falcon with Matt Ryan at the helm. The Falcons offense is skilled, pass-heavy and features above-average QB play, all of which benefit running backs way more than running back talent.
You probably heard me and other analysts say that Todd Gurley is “washed”. Well, he definitely is past his athletic prime due to his degenerative knee condition but the most important factors for RB performance in fantasy are not RB skill but rather contextually based. Therefore, even in projecting Gurley with reduced yards per carry and yards per target, his current projected role in this offense leaves him as the RB18 in PPR leagues right now.
Now, Atlanta had visits with more running backs than anyone else at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis so I would not at all be surprised if JK Dobbins or AJ Dillon found themselves also in the Falcons backfield and Ito Smith was cut as a result. If the Falcons do draft a rookie in the top 100 or so picks of the NFL draft, we would be very interested in adding that player to our fantasy teams as a lot of the outcomes for Gurley are bad performance and/or injury risk that a younger player would not have.