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Fantasy Football Roundup Week 4: Todd Gurley, Chargers RBs and Devin Singletary

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2019

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley II (30) gains yards on a run during an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, September 15, 2019 in Los Angeles. The Rams defeated the Saints 27-9. (John Cordes/AP Images for Panini)
John Cordes/Associated Press

It's Thursday, which means the beginning of Week 4 is nearly upon us. That also means it's time for the weekly fantasy roundup, as we go over the most relevant news fantasy enthusiasts need to know.

This week features a slew of running backs and plenty of injury updates worth noting. Let's get to it.

                     

Todd Gurley

A year after being fantasy's MVP, Todd Gurley has been one of its most frustrating players in 2019. While his 44 rushes for 203 yards and a score in three weeks is decent production, his four receptions for eight yards has been a huge disappointment.

So too has been his 16 touches per game, a year after he averaged 22.5 per game. But perhaps that diminished workload will be coming to an end, with head coach Sean McVay telling reporters the team wants to eventually get Gurley 25 carries in a game:

"That's the hope. If you look back at our Denver game last year, it comes [to] mind when you mention that. There were some different things where what they were doing. He got into a really good rhythm and he ended up having about that many carries and 200-plus yards. [Editor's note: Gurley had 28 carries for 208 yards.] You'd like to be able to say that because that means everything is going really well. Each game ends up representing new challenges and different responses from us, based on what we think is the best way to move the ball."

McVay noted that being more efficient on offense and running more plays overall would help in that regard. But he also noted that game flow would factor into Gurley's workload and that the team wants to keep running back Malcolm Brown involved as well.

He did stop short of saying Gurley was being load-managed to start the season, however:

"A lot of the looks are predicated on do we want to run, or do we want to pass? You want to get Todd Gurley involved as much as possible but sometimes I'm not going to force the run versus certain looks. As much as you want to get him involved, I think the big underlying theme is let's just be more efficient offensively and I think everybody will end up benefiting from that."

Soooo...what do we take from this?

It sure feels like Gurley is being load-managed, regardless of what McVay says, after he was limited in last year's playoffs with an apparent knee injury and his trainer admitted over the spring there was an "arthritic component" to Gurley's knee. It's hard to imagine that game flow would have limited Gurley's touches last year, after all, when he was torching defenses on the ground and through the air.

Greg Beacham @gregbeacham

Todd Gurley was in the Top 5 in the NFL in touches in each of the past 3 seasons. This season, he's tied for 18th after 3 games. More relevantly, Gurley was 1st in 2017 and 4th in 2018 in yards from scrimmage. So far this year he's 55th, and 20th among running backs.

Greg Beacham @gregbeacham

Sean McVay says Todd Gurley will get more action when Rams' offense is good enough to run more plays, and Gurley's relative inactivity is function of overall inconsistency of NFL's 16th-ranked offense, not load management. Rams are 9th in NFL with 197 plays from scrimmage, FWIW.

The calling card of a reliable RB1 is that their fantasy value is rarely contingent on game flow—they get their touches—and production—regardless. It sure doesn't seem like Gurley falls into that camp right now. He's an RB2 going forward, and while he's an RB2 with major upside, his looming knee concerns also make him an RB2 with major risk attached as well.

In other words, he isn't a buy-low target after his so-so start. If he isn't on your roster already, don't seek him out unless he's coming at an absolute bargain.

                                                   

Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson

The Los Angeles Chargers running back ended his holdout Thursday, meaning a return to game action is imminent.

The Checkdown @thecheckdown

Keenan Allen was fired up to have Melvin Gordon back in the locker room 😎 @Melvingordon25 (via @Keenan13Allen) https://t.co/KqgKzjjxCX

No, he won't be back in Week 4. But you can bet the Chargers are happy to have him back, whenever he's able to return to game action.

"We're a better team with him, for sure!" head coach Anthony Lynn texted Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. He also said Gordon will return to the top of the depth chart once he plays, which obviously will majorly limit the fantasy value of Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson in the future:

Field Yates @FieldYates

Chargers HC Anthony Lynn on Melvin Gordon's role: "He's our starter. No doubt. He was our starter for a reason... as soon as Melvin's ready, he'll go back. He'll go back to number one." Lynn did praise Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson's work and says they'll have a role still.

But he won't be playing this week, which means Ekeler remains a high-upside RB1 and Jackson is still a very intriguing flex play.

The Chargers face the Miami Dolphins in Week 4, a team giving up an NFL-worst 208 rushing yards per game. They're also tied for the most rushing touchdowns given up to running backs (four), the most receiving touchdowns given up to the position (two) and the most fantasy points allowed to the position (34.5 per week), according to Yahoo Sports.

Ian Hartitz @Ihartitz

Justin Jackson ... -TDs nullified by penalties in back-to-back weeks -8.7 carries and targets per game -A+++ game script vs. Dolphins -League-best 7.9 YPC among all RBs with more than 10 carries ... $4,100 on DraftKings

So, yeah...start them both. Duh. Ekeler is an obvious pick—and will remain that way until Gordon returns to the fold—but Jackson is a player you really should consider flexing this week. In what could be a blowout versus Miami, Jackson could get a lot of run in the fourth quarter.

Obviously, it's a bit of a gamble, but one worth considering.

               

Devin Singletary

Baby steps for Devin Singletary.

The Buffalo Bills running back "had his helmet and was stretching with his teammates in the early part of Thursday's practice, a sign of progress from his injured hamstring," according to the Buffalo News.

Per that report, "He was listed as a limited participant in practice, coach Sean McDermott said, noting he 'did some nice things.'"

Scott Swenson @ScottSwenson4

Devin Singletary without a red jersey. Back at practice after a hamstring injury. Hope he is a full go this Sunday. @news4buffalo https://t.co/GqseKiWuDL

There was no update to his status for Week 4, however, but it was a return to practice for the first time since he injured his hamstring in Week 2. So he sounds like a pretty safe bet to be a game-time decision, meaning you should be monitoring his status closely.

When he's played this season, Singletary has been very productive, averaging a gaudy 10.3 yards per touch. Granted, the Bills only gave him 15 touches in his first two games, as he finds himself in a timeshare with Frank Gore.

But at some point, Singletary is going to be handed a feature-back role in this offense, or at least seriously siphon off Gore's workload. He's too talented to be kept out of a major role.

Jeff Ratcliffe @JeffRatcliffe

Dalvin Cook leads the NFL with 7 runs of 15-plus yards on 57 carries this season. Devin Singletary has 5 on 10 carries.

Just don't assume it will be this week. Between his uncertain injury status; the fact that Gore remains a solid contributor (44 carries for 164 yards and two scores this season), and this week's matchup, the New England Patriots, being super stingy against running backs—they're giving up just 10 points per week to opposing players at the position, second-best in football—he's a player you should probably keep on your bench.

           

Odds and Ends

- New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is hoping to expedite his recovery from a torn ligament in his right thumb.

"As far as the timetable for getting back though, they say six-to-eight weeks," Brees told WWL Radio, per NOLA.com. "I think I can beat that, but I'm just gonna take it one week at a time and see how things go."

Brees is a borderline QB1 consideration when healthy, but he improves the fantasy value of Michael Thomas in particular. Alvin Kamara doesn't see a major fluctuation either way. Regardless, keep an eye on Brees' status in the coming weeks.

- A number of players have updated injury statuses that should be on your radar:

  • Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin was limited Thursday with a hamstring issue, per John Keim of ESPN.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout Chris Godwin missed his second straight practice Thursday, according to Pewter Report.
  • John Glennon of The Athletic reported that Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker missed a second straight day of practice.
  • Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews missed another practice Thursday, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN, as his foot injury persists:
Jamison Hensley @jamisonhensley

Ravens TE Mark Andrews (foot) missed his second straight practice this week. Andrews has been dealing with the foot injury for three weeks, but this marks the first time he has been out for consecutive practices. His availability could hinge on whether he practices Friday.

- Saquon Barkley is going to miss a significant chunk of time, but there was good news Thursday nonetheless, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported the star running back wouldn't require surgery.

He'll also avoid injured reserve.

"It's been determined we just rehab him, get him ready to go, see how that plays out," head coach Pat Shurmur told reporters. "Obviously as coaches we have a short time horizon, so he won't be available this week. We'll just see at what point he is. I don't want to put any time frame on how long it will take him to get back."

He's still facing anywhere from four to six weeks on the sideline, but his high ankle sprain could have had a worse outcome. Fantasy players with Barkley on the roster should be quite pleased with that bit of news.

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