Don't Sleep on Todd Gurley
Here we are again. Another season, another discussion about Todd Gurley.
Now, I know I was very high on the former MVP last season, where I produced a much similar article to this, but hear me out. He’s on a new team with new opportunities. He has the potential to once again return to top five running back form.
So where am I getting this from?
Before we jump into the statistical breakdown of everything, let’s reference something Falcons’ head coach Dirk Koetter has stated.
Koetter has told ESPN that he plans to get Gurley, at a minimum, 15 touches a game and upwards of 25.
Last season, the RB1 for the Falcons ran the ball, on average, 13.6 times-per-game and was targeted 4.7 times-per-game in the passing game.
This gets you the touches that we can expect out of Gurley week-in-and-week-out, as the number of carries and targets equates 18.3 touches-per-game.
The Falcons also did not bring in another running back in the off-season to compete with Gurley in terms of dominating the backfield touches.
A season ago, the Falcons lead back was on the field for 65-percent of offensive plays. Devanta Freeman was that guy for 13 of the Falcons’ games.
Through various parts of the season, Ito Smith and Brian Hill played second fiddle to Freeman, where the back-up saw 27-percent of offensive snaps. Both remain on the roster.
Anyhow, the Falcons lead back averaged 3.3 yards-per-carry and 5.7 yards-per-reception last season. Gurley averaged 3.8 yards-per-carry and 6.7 yards-per-reception.
If we took the base work of the Falcons last season and used these figures Gurley put up a season ago, we’d get 828 rushing yards and 362 receiving yards. That combined is 1,190 total yards on the season.
This comes from his career catch-percentage being 72.4-percent, and going off of the 75 RB1 targets the Falcons threw a season ago, putting Gurley at 54 receptions hypothetically.
Touchdown Todd, as he’s known, is going to produce more touchdowns than the six total Freeman produced a season ago.
Heck, Gurley had 14 last season. Even if we bump him down to 10 total touchdowns (which is what I’m willing to give him at a minimum,) would give him 179 fantasy points in standard scoring. Toss in his 54 receptions and we get a total of 233 PPR fantasy points on the season.
That, minimally puts him at what would have been RB11 last season.
If we used an average of 20 touches-per-game, which falls in the middle of Koetter’s 15-to-25 touches for Gurley, we can, for the scenario, give him two more carries per game. So over 16 games, that’s 32 more carries, or 121.6 more yards.
That’s another 12 fantasy points, putting him in the top 10 of running backs a year ago.
Again, this number was calculated using minimals in terms of yards-per-carry, yards-per-reception, touchdowns and touches.
Now, let’s take a look at where his ADP currently falls.
In Yahoo and ESPN leagues, he’s being drafted at the RB15, or as picks 33 and 38 respectively. This puts him into the late third or early fourth rounds of drafts. In Sleeper leagues, he’s being drafted as the RB22 as pick 37.
I’m projecting that Gurley finishes inside the top ten of fantasy running backs, with upside of a top five back once again. He’s going to easily exceed his current ADP.