DFS Roundtable: To Todd Gurley or Not

The DFS team discusses Todd Gurley and his historically high DFS salary

Todd Gurley is reaching uncharted territory in salary across DFS sites. He is lapping the field in PPG on an elite offense. Add in being huge home favorites against the Packers in Week 8, is there a limit to seeing Gurley as a strong cash play in terms of salary?

Discuss Todd Gurley specifically, but also how likely you are to opt for top running backs in cash vs. tournaments, etc.

Phil Alexander:

Full disclosure -- I have not played a cash game in at least three years, so take my advice with more than just a grain of salt. If I were to put myself in a cash game player's shoes, however, I can't imagine starting a lineup without Todd Gurley at this point. The next time he scores less than 25 PPR points in a game this season will be his first. Just plug him in each week and figure out the rest from there.

GPPs are a different story entirely. In last week's Fantasy Football Millionaire on DraftKings, Gurley was 58% rostered, which was nearly 20% higher than any other player had been all season. He did not appear in the winning lineup, but Gurley's third straight 30+ point performance was good enough to place him on three out of the top-5 lineups. As hard as it is to believe, there will almost certainly be a week in which Gurley fails to score multiple touchdowns. When that happens, you'll want to be well under-weight on him in comparison to the field, so you can instantly fly past 60% of your opponents.

This week specifically, I would be more inclined to fade Gurley in tournaments than I was last week, especially on DraftKings, where his price remained static at $9,800. There is no reason to believe his roster percentage will dip below where it landed in Week 7. In fact, it may actually rise, providing the most obvious spot to zig while our opponents zag we have seen all season. With both James Conner and Kareem Hunt back on the main slate, there is no shortage of high-upside RB1 options to use in Gurley's place.

Justin Howe:

In a cash-game scenario, like Phil, there’s no way I’m opening without Gurley. The blend of opportunity, dynamism, and touchdown outlook is simply too great to get cute with. He costs an arm and a leg, but his rostered percentage makes up for some of that cost. Being caught without his realistic multi-touchdown upside is devastating when 40% of your field has him.

In tournaments, though, he’s a full-on fade for me. Rolling the dice on 35+ points is never a shrewd play, and with Gurley’s exposure so high, the benefit is minimal even if (when?) he does hit that marker. In GPPs, I’m much more likely to spend up on high-usage receivers from potent offenses. Those guys tend to see much more even roster distribution across the industry. Simply put: a 25-point eruption from Davante Adams at 8-10% means more to your chances of taking down a tournament than a 30 from Gurley at 30%.

Justin Brimacombe:

Todd Gurley is reaching uncharted territory in salary across DFS sites. He is lapping the field in PPG on an elite offense. Add in being huge home favorites against the Packers in Week 8, is there a limit to seeing Gurley as a strong cash play in terms of salary? Discuss Gurley specifically, but also how likely you are to opt for top running backs in cash vs. tournaments, etc

If you are playing cash games, I think you almost have to plug in Gurley no matter what his price is right now. If you are playing tournaments I think the play is to fade him because of the price and the high ownership. Through seven games Gurley has 14 total touchdowns and is almost a given to produce a touchdown at a minimum each game. Over the last three games he has scored eight touchdowns and now with a home matchup against the Packers I think you just lock him in with your cash games and build around the high price looking for value elsewhere.

Dan Hindery:

In cash games, it is almost impossible to fade Gurley right now. He is just on a whole different level and there has generally been enough value each week to feel good about the chances of Gurley and a value play (like Nick Chubb last week) combining to outscore a pair of mid-priced options.

In tournaments, I’ve been trying to be above the field on Gurley in recent weeks but will switch the strategy up in Week 8. There are too many other high-scoring games on the slate I want to target and plenty of other high-priced options with major upside. Plus, while Gurley is likely to perform well, I don’t see as much upside against Green Bay as in his other recent matchups. The Packers are allowing just 2.7 receptions per game to opposing running backs over the last five weeks and look most vulnerable against wide receivers. Given both his high salary and the fact he could be on 40% or more of tournament rosters, it makes sense to go light on Gurley and take your chances he doesn’t go off for a monster game.

Jason Wood:

Not to be a parrot, but I agree with my colleagues on Gurley in GPPs. It's hard, at this salary, to love him combined with what will remain high ownership. But full disclosure, I rarely play GPPs instead focusing on cash. Where I disagree with my peers is Gurley in cash this week. I think his salary is finally too high to plug and play. If you play multiple lineups it's entirely justifiable to pass on Gurley in a portion. I think it's dangerous to have zero exposure to him, but I'm probably going to have 50% of my cash lineups without Gurley this week.

The nice thing about Gurley is the availability of intriguing low-priced running backs that are viable in cash games. On Fanduel, Kerryon Johnson ($6,900), Nick Chubb ($6,400), Jalen Richard ($5,700), Marlon Mack ($6,700), and Adrian Peterson ($7,000) are viable pairings. On DraftKings, Chubb ($4,700), Alex Collins ($4,600), Kerryon Johnson ($5,300), Richard ($4,200), and Tarik Cohen ($5,800) work well.

I rank James Conner ($7,500 DK, $8,000) as the #1 play at the position, and would also rather have Saquon Barkley ($8,900 FD) and Kareem Hunt ($8,100 FD) over Gurley on Fanduel, but not DraftKings.

BJ VanderWoude:

Unless Todd Gurley reaches upwards of $11,000 and stops making sense from a PP$ perspective, I don't see why he would stop being the strongest cash game consideration at running back. The Rams have scored 30+ points in six of their seven games, and he is averaging 24 touches and two touchdowns per game. The Rams continue to feed him the ball and he continues to churn out elite production. That combination is the key to building strong cash game lineups.

The argument for Gurley weakens a little in tournaments because you want to strive for a unique lineup, and his ownership continues to be very high week to week. With Melvin Gordon III, Saquon Barkley, Kareem Hunt--and to an extent James Connor--offering upside in Gurley's range at a cheaper price and lower ownership, you can make the case that they are superior tournament plays. The way the season is playing out, the optimal lineup construction points to rostering high end running backs, despite the fact that they are currently offering inflated salaries. Tournaments are all about a player's ceiling, and when you have three or more running backs putting up 30+ point weeks, it becomes nearly impossible to field winning lineups without having at least one and in most cases two of those players.

Will Grant:

Todd Gurley is reaching uncharted territory in salary across DFS sites. He is lapping the field in PPG on an elite offense. Add in being huge home favorites against the Packers in Week 8, is there a limit to seeing Gurley as a strong cash play in terms of salary? Discuss Gurley specifically, but also how likely you are to opt for top running backs in cash vs. tournaments, etc.

Gurley is doing so well for the Rams, he’s making the rest of the passing game something that you want to fade. The receiving corps is also banged up, feeding into Gurley’s continued dominance. In cash games, he’s a ‘fade at your own risk’ kind of play. Given how high his ownership is going to be, if he does well and you don’t have him, you’re going to need a near perfect lineup to hit the top 50%. In GPP, having him on your roster is a huge liability. His salary means you have to get super cheap at your other positions, and in a GPP, that’s going to limit the uniqueness of your lineup. The smarter GPP play is to fade Gurley and hope he has a bad game, taking down a chunk of the field and leaving you in the money.


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