The St. Louis Rams are playing it safe with rookie running back Todd Gurley. Very safe.
As for #Rams RB Todd Gurley, don’t expect him the first 3 weeks. Team wants to make sure he’s back fully from his ACL injury. Often 10 mos.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 9, 2015
Per reports, the Rams don’t plan on rushing Gurley back into action, and would prefer to wait until week four of the 2015 NFL season, if not later, for their prized rusher to make his NFL debut. Gurley has reportedly been cleared for all activities, but was held out of the entire preseason and has remained fairly limited in practices.
St. Louis can luckily afford to bring Gurley along slowly and make sure he’s fully 100% thanks to already having a quality starter in Tre Mason on the roster. Solid depth in Benny Cunningham and Isaiah Pead behind Mason on the depth chart only helps, as well.
Do You Draft Todd Gurley?
So, what do fantasy football league managers do with this information? Obviously you have to wait a little longer than you might want to draft Gurley, as he’s probably going to miss the first month of the season. He’s also likely going to be sharing the workload initially with Mason, so his exact role and upside may be capped early on. That could mean you aren’t getting a truly elite fantasy running back until later in the year, if at all.
That being said, the Rams drafted Gurley for a reason and a month from now, he very well could be completely ready to crush skulls. Gurley comes off a tad rich at his current 5th round ADP in 12-team leagues. You can still get guys like T.J. Yeldon, LeGarrette Blount, Rashad Jennings and Joique Bell around that area – all of which are starters heading into 2015. That’s the safer route, to be sure. But by the fifth round, it’s time to start taking some risks. Gurley is such a talent worth gambling on, and the four aforementioned players carry their own red flags, too: Yeldon is a rookie running behind a shaky Jaguars o-line, Blount is a headcase in a Patriots system known for messing with rotations, Jennings is injury prone and Bell has Ameer Abdullah breathing down his neck.
In other words, Todd Gurley is no lock, but a month from now you could be very glad he’s sitting at the end of your roster. Ideally you already have your top two running backs and probably your top two wide receivers (remember, wait on QB, TE, K and DEF), so taking a chance on Gurley won’t be such a big deal. And hey, if you feel Gurley can slip one round further and you can get him in the 6th, all the better.
Tre Mason Still Needs to be Drafted
Now that we have Gurley’s 2015 fantasy value cleared up, let’s kick it back to Tre Mason for a second. He’s banged up (hammy) and faces a staunch Seattle defense in week one, but at worst this guy is looking at 4-5 games as THE GUY on a team that wants to pound the rock. He’s plenty versatile and explosive, too, so at his absurd 8th round ADP (three rounds AFTER Gurley), he’s a must handcuff if you take Gurley. If Gurley doesn’t work out, no big deal, as Mason is a fine talent and can be a rock solid RB2 if the job is all his. Worst case, he keeps the seat warm and you can transition to Gurley in October.