I like the fact that I decided to draft Todd Gurley on my fantasy team last year. It made me look brilliant for the five games that he excelled in the NFL after recovering from a brutal injury. I just know I probably won’t do it again.
If you take a quick look at the stat sheet he looks like a superhuman. If you google his highlights on YouTube he initially looks like a freight train; until you take a closer look.
The majority of his yards (706) last season came in five games. The other eight games he was less than average (400), and pretty close to horrible (3.2 ypc).
Out of his total of 1,106 yards, those 706 yards came in five games, four of which where against teams who were ranked in the bottom 14 against the run in 2015, and two of them were against the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns who gave up 126.3 and 128.4 yards per game on the ground and ranked 29th and 30th respectively.
All but one of those games came in the beginning of the season when nobody had hardly any NFL tape on him, and 157 of those yards came in a game where the Green Bay Packers had a decent lead after intercepting the Rams 4 times and had no reason to stop Gurley from running out the clock while they sat back in coverage. I remember watching the d-backs jogging beside him and enjoying the fact that my fantasy stats were climbing as the seconds ticked off the clock.
I was in love with the yardage numbers he put up to start his season, 146, 159, 128, 133…
Right when I thought I had my number one running back of the future on lock down, Gurley’s yardage numbers started to dwindle, 89, 45, 66, 19, 41…
Would I even be able to trade this guy if I wanted to? He’s been totally exposed now that teams know what to expect. Isn’t anyone else in the league seeing this? Why isn’t anyone else panicking?
Then he busted out with 140 yards against the Lions and I breathed a sigh of relief but no one else skipped a beat because he was already being hailed as the next best thing, even though it would stand as his only 100 yard performance in the entire second half of the season.
What I’ve learned is Gurley is a below average running back who compensates and thrills by stacking up yards all at once. Gurley to the left for 3 yards, Gurley to the right for loss of 1, Gurley up the middle for no gain, Girley to the left for loss of five, Gurley up the middle for 50+.
If you focus in on his highlights you will see almost the same thing every time. Huge holes that he goes through virtually untouched, one quick cut, slip an arm tackle, then sprinters speed to the goal line. Gurley is quick and fast and has tremendous acceleration. He’ll even hurdle a guy now and again, but put two or more guys in front of him and he’ll go straight down or out of bounds. He does not want anything to do with physicality.
The one place it’s different is on the goal line, but even there he is more ballet than bulldozer, as he prefers to twist and spin his way in.
There is a solution to Gurley’s success if any defensive coordinator takes the time to study the film. Have your fastest linebacker spy him on running plays in the last half of the 4th quarter when the game is already over, which seems to be when he breaks loose.
However, it seems after watching him explode in the first four games of the year for a buck twenty-five or better every team already had that figured out except for one. After that he became very human.
I’m not gonna lie, I tried like hell to trade him before my fantasy draft, but unfortunately everyone in my league had already read my previous article, and done the math for themselves.
The good thing is, I can’t really lose, because if I’m wrong about him, my fantasy team should be golden. If I’m right, his penchant for finding the end zone should still make him a decent flex play for a year or two.
I’m not saying Gurley is a bust necessarily, but if you are looking for the next big thing, I think your in for a big surprise.