Each year, ESPN fantasy football expert, Matthew Berry, puts out an article containing information he gathered during discussions with coaches and team personnel during the NFL combine. These annual articles have a self-described “pretty good” track record recently. Specifically, Berry cites his very early identification of Darren Waller as a valuable tight end last offseason. Those who took note of this information were likely rewarded greatly in their season long fantasy football leagues last year. Below, we dissect one piece of early speculation mentioned by Berry in his article, and how it may impact individual players and their fantasy value.
When speaking to Los Angeles Rams GM Les Snead, Matthew Berry gained some insight into the Rams’ plans for their backfield next season. Snead indicated that they were pleased with the outcome of Gurley’s load management last season, and will look to carry out a similar plan in 2020. This means that Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown will see increased work early on, with Gurley’s workload building as the season progresses.
In speaking with other members from the Rams organization, Berry also received the impression that improving the offensive line would be a focal point for the Rams this off season.
The Fantasy Impact
An improved offensive line undoubtedly improves the outlook for any running back, but the promise of a limited workload makes Gurley a significantly less exciting prospect for 2020. Granted, the Rams’ 2019 load management plan for Gurley kept him healthy for the entire season, but it also made him disappointing for fantasy owners early on.
Managers who drafted Gurley last season cringed as they watched Henderson and Brown vulture goal line touches left and right early in the season. Fortunately for those owners, Gurley managed to remain productive as a whole despite the limited workload. He finished the year with 12 touchdowns and averaged 14.6 points per game , which made him the 14th ranked RB on the year.
With the expectation that the 2020 season plays out in a similar fashion, Gurley can be expected to finish the season as a top 20 RB, with potential to crack the top 10 depending on the magnitude of the Rams’ improvement of the offensive line. He is no longer safe to draft as an RB1 but owners could be happy with him as an RB2 or flex play.
Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson will once again be touchdown dependent fliers next season, if Gurley remains healthy. Brown managed to score five touchdowns last season, including two in Week 1 leading to his best fantasy outcome of the season with 17.1 points on the day. Should Gurley get injured, Brown would likely be the back to own, but he’s nothing more than a handcuff at this point.