Fantasy football: Rams’ Todd Gurley looks like top-10 material for RBs

SHARE Fantasy football: Rams’ Todd Gurley looks like top-10 material for RBs
SHARE Fantasy football: Rams’ Todd Gurley looks like top-10 material for RBs

Thank you, Todd Gurley.

The running back position was starting to look shaky again, with injuries and timeshares clouding some top backfields. But you have arrived, and you have top-10 running back written all over you.

The Rams rookie rushed 19 times for 146 yards Sunday against a Cardinals defense that had allowed an average of 65 rushing yards to running backs in the first three games. And he did it with an offensive line that entered the season as the team’s biggest liability.

Many have compared Gurley to the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson — and not just because of the knee surgery that delayed his arrival. He has size, speed and strength, and he figures to render Tre Mason and Benjamin Cunningham irrelevant, barring another injury. Plus, Gurley has a favorable schedule: The Rams’ next five opponents rank 20th or lower in run defense.

If Gurley lives up to the hype, he could pass several of my top-10 running backs entering the season who have run into some trouble. Here’s a look at those players:

No. 10: Jeremy Hill, Bengals

If you believed me last week that Hill would return to form, then you were rewarded with three touchdown runs. But it’s debatable whether he’ll see the 20-plus carries he got last season. Coordinator Hue Jackson has said that Giovani Bernard becomes the lead back when the team is in comeback mode. But the Bengals never trailed Sunday, and Bernard still had the edge in carries (13-9). Also, Hill has only two more carries than Bernard from the opponent’s 10-yard line in (9-7). The difference is that Hill has outscored Bernard 5-0. Keep rolling with Hill, but consider him an RB2.

No. 9: LeSean McCoy, Bills

First he was losing touchdowns to rookie Karlos Williams. Now he’s losing time to a hamstring injury, and there’s no sign of a speedy recovery. McCoy has said he won’t return unless he’s 100 percent, and he reportedly might miss another three weeks.

No. 8: DeMarco Murray, Eagles

Murray is sharing time with Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews, and the Eagles are down about 10 plays per game from last season (league-best 70 to 60, ranking 28th). Coach Chip Kelly’s offense thrives on volume. The offensive line has been plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness. Plus, Murray missed Week 3 with a hamstring injury. You can’t bail on the 2014 rushing champ, but you can’t lean on him, either.

No. 7: C.J. Anderson, Broncos

Anderson, the free-agent find of 2014, has 12 points in four games after averaging 20 in the second half of last season. Now he’s being threatened by Ronnie Hillman, who might have stolen the starting job with a 72-yard touchdown run Sunday. Keep in mind that the Broncos rank 29th in rushing. So while one big run might alter their lineup, it doesn’t figure to change their fortunes significantly. Besides, Anderson and Hillman have had a nearly equal timeshare. Anderson has four more carries. He’s now a flex play.

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Rising

WR Leonard Hankerson, Falcons

He has scored in double digits in two of the last three games, and he has 15 more targets than Roddy White. Looks like Matt Ryan has a new No. 2 receiver.

RB Duke Johnson, Browns

With a combined 15 catches in the last two games, the rookie has become the Browns’ second-leading receiver. Isaiah Crowell figures to have more carries, but Johnson will be very involved.

Falling

QB Colin Kaepernick, 49ers

He’s tied with Cam Newton for the most rushing yards among quarterbacks (195). But with two touchdown passes and five interceptions, he’s barely worth owning.

RB Tevin Coleman, Falcons

He’s expected to return to practice this week after missing the last two games with a rib injury, but it’s hard to imagine the red-hot Devonta Freeman coming out of the lineup.

Follow me on Twitter@JeffreyA22.

Email: jagrest@suntimes.com

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