NFC West Questions: ST. LOUIS RAMS: Will Todd Gurley be elite this year?
The most obvious factor clouding Todd Gurley’s chance to be a productive part of a fantasy team is his health. The Rams first regular season game takes place on September 13th. At that point, he will be almost exactly 10 months removed from tearing his ACL, which took place on November 15th, 2014. Gurley had surgery to repair the tear 10 days later, on November 25th. These details, while important, are not necessarily indicative of his return date, as recovery time from an ACL tear ranges greatly from player to player, seemingly in the 8 to 12 month range. Reports have been made claiming that it is increasingly likely that Gurley will be placed on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list to start the year, which is essentially a 6 week disabled list. If placed on the PUP list, that player is not allowed to play until 6 weeks have passed, whether or not they are declared healthy during that span. The Rams have a week 6 bye, which actually works in Gurley’s favor. So, if he misses 6 weeks on the PUP list, he is still eligible to play in 11 games during the rest of the season. He may return earlier, but it is also possible that he returns later. For the sake of this argument, I will assume that he returns in week 7 to play against the Browns. So, what can we reasonably expect over the 11 remaining games?
If he returns week 7, I can’t imagine he would be started in many leagues, effectively making him worthless for another week. So, that brings us to week 8, with 10 games remaining on the schedule, before he will really have a chance to start in fantasy leagues. I believe that it will take a few weeks for Gurley to get back up to full speed with a full carry load. Not only is he coming off an injury, but he is an NFL rookie who is likely not used to NFL game speed. In my opinion, the earliest that he becomes an effective fantasy producer is week 9 or 10. To me, a guy who I will only be using for half the season at best, who has a chance at being reinjured or simply not playing well is just not worth the type of pick that he will command (likely a 3rd round pick). Now, if reports start leaking that he will be ready for the start of the year, or by week 2 or 3, then my view on Gurley will change. Until then, I will target Tre Mason in round 7 or 8 in my fantasy drafts, and reap the benefits until Gurley makes a full comeback and likely steals the job.