In July of 2018, with Todd Gurley’s fifth-year option still on the table, the Los Angeles Rams handed him a four-year, $60 million contract extension ($45 million guaranteed). Again, this came with his fifth-year option still on the table. The Rams released Todd Gurley on Thursday, just before his $10.5 million for 2020 became guaranteed. I’m not going to say that it was a stupid decision, I’ll just say that the Rams now carry a $17.5 million dead cap hit for Todd Gurley. That’s $17.5 million they literally can’t use for anything else, just a big ol’ hole in their cap space. Anyway, Todd Gurley is now a Falcon on a one-year deal. What does this mean for the Los Angeles Rams team he left behind, the Atlanta Falcons team he joins, and 2020 fantasy football leagues?
Todd Gurley’s Contract
Todd Gurley on the Atlanta Falcons
First and foremost, let’s deal with the elephant in the room. Todd Gurley has an arthritic knee that the Rams repeatedly insisted would not be a problem. He then proceeded to have the lowest touches per game of his career, while tallying 4.2 yards per touch, a number that has been 5.8 and 6.1 over the last two seasons. His fantasy football value was buoyed by his obscene touchdown total (14 touchdowns) on just 1,064 yards. Gurley scored a touchdown every 76 yards. For backs with at least 100 touches, the league average rate was a touchdown every 148 yards. That screams outlier, and now he goes to a Falcons offense that won’t provide him with the same opportunities to score touchdowns.
The Falcons will take a running back high in the 2020 NFL Draft. It’s inevitable; their RB room is currently Todd Gurley’s one working knee, Ito Smith, and Brian Hill. That means that Gurley will split time with a younger and healthier back. He will likely turn in a worse version of Devonta Freeman’s 2019, but is that something that you want from a guy whose name value will drive him up fantasy football draft boards? Devonta Freeman had more yards than Todd Gurley last year and just six touchdowns. That’s probably what you can expect for 2020 Todd Gurley: a wet fart of a season while he splits time.
Todd Gurley Leaving the Los Angeles Rams
Remember Darrell Henderson? The third RB off the board in the 2019 draft? Remember how dumb-dumbs like “Jeff Krisko of Football Absurdity” got all worked up for Henderson in 2019? Well, copy and paste that excitement for 2020, maybe? The Rams offensive line ranked middle-of-the-pack for most run-blocking metrics on Football Outsiders last season, meaning 2020 will truly measure the talent of Darrell Henderson. The Rams had 401 carries last year, the eighteenth-most in the NFL; Gurley had over half of these attempts (223), and that opens the door wide for a Darrell Henderson breakout.
Henderson will need to play better, though that will likely come with more opportunities. He had just 45 rushes + targets last season, totaling 184 yards. He hardly played, never notching more than 47% of the team’s snaps, and averaging just 7.2 snaps per game last year. I’m not so certain the Rams aren’t going to continue to use him as a 1B, so his fantasy value is inexorably tied to what they do in the draft and in the next couple of weeks in free agency. You don’t give an heir apparent just 7.2 snaps per game. Depending on what the Rams do, Henderson might be frustrating to own, yardage-wise. But, as you saw with Gurley, an inefficient running back still gets plenty of touchdown opportunity on the Rams.
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