Shark Bites

Rams RB Todd Gurley's start to training camp has been an "absolute success," according to The Athletic's Vincent Bonsignore. "He looked every bit as explosive, athletic and dynamic as the Todd Gurley who was the 2017 NFL Offensive Player of the Year and the one who was pushing for consideration for the same award late last season," Bonsignore writes. It's only early August. And this is just 1 beat writer's observation. But it continues a string of positive reports on Gurley over the past month after things were sounding bleak early in the offseason. Gurley and his arthritic knee still carry plenty of risk in fantasy drafts -- but he also boasts league-winning upside at his 2nd-round price tag.

Rams WR Cooper Kupp, now almost 9 months removed from his torn ACL, participated in contact practices with the Chargers. "A guy gives you a pop, you roll up, hit the ground and pop back up," Kupp said of taking a hit. "Honestly, I didn't really realize I'd gone down. And it's like, 'Oh, yeah, my first time really being hit and being on the ground.' But it felt great. You get that first one out of the way, and you're good." This is just about the last step in Kupp's rehab. He continues to trend toward being a full-go come Week 1.

The Rams' plan this season is for RB Darrell Henderson to be a "Chris Thompson type," according to Yahoo's Charles Robinson. Across HC Sean McVay's final 2 years as Redskins OC, Thompson carried 103 times and caught 84 of 110 targets. He finished 55th and then 28th among RBs in PPR points. Fantasy owners drafting Henderson at his early-7th-round ADP have to be hoping for at least a bit more work for the rookie this season. We currently project Henderson for 96 carries and 24 catches.

After visiting Rams camp, Yahoo's Charles Robinson projects RBs Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown to combine for about 35% of the offensive snaps this season. That'd leave about 65% for RB Todd Gurley. It'd be a noticeable reduction for Gurley, who played 86% of the offensive snaps in his 14 regular season games last year and 81% in 2017. Note, though, that only 4 other RBs topped a 65% snap rate last season. So even with less time on the field, Gurley could still finish near the top of the league in touches.

Rams HC Sean McVay said Friday that WR Cooper Kupp will be on the field for Saturday's initial training-camp practice. "He's going to be ready to go," McVay told ESPN's Lindsay Thiry. "We've got kind of basically a volume that we have targeted for each day of practice. He can partake in all the activities. We'll monitor him and pick and choose which periods he can be a full participant." Barring a setback with his repaired knee, Kupp should be in consideration for fantasy football drafts. There's no special value in his current WR25 ADP, though.

"Todd's going to be ready to go," Rams HC Sean McVay told ESPN's Lindsey Thiry on Friday, deeming Gurley fit to participate in Saturday's opening camp practice. "We've got a specific plan in terms of monitoring his workload and a lot of that will be predicated on the feedback he gives to us. But he's feeling good." And thus begins the biggest camp storyline in fantasy football.

Rams WR Cooper Kupp will not be placed on the PUP list to open training camp, NFL Network's Steve Wyche reports. "His workload will be measured," Wyche adds. Kupp is now about 8-and-a-half months removed from his torn ACL. Being cleared to at least take part in some work this early is excellent news and puts him on track to be on the field come Week 1. Kupp ranked 15th among WRs in PPR points per game last year after finishing 25th in total PPR points as a rookie. He's been the 25th WR off the board in Draft.com best balls over the past 2 weeks.

Rams RB Todd Gurley is "feeling great," HC Sean McVay said. "I think, you know, one of the things about Todd is (he's a) great competitor," McVay added. "I think he's earned the right to be able to have the plan that we had this offseason. Can't wait to get him back going. I know he's ready to go." It's been all doom and gloom regarding Gurley's knee this offseason, but we'll start to get a better idea of his status when Rams training camp opens next weekend. Gurley's ADP has dipped into the middle of Round 2.

Rams RB Todd Gurley expressed optimism about his troublesome knee in an interview with the NFL Network on Tuesday. "It's good, man. It's good," he said. "I'm just like, hey, we're going to find out in training camp, you know? Once training camp comes, you've got the preseason, but you don't have a lot in preseason." Players, of course, are almost always over-optimistic about injuries. But this still qualifies as the most positive piece on Gurley's status this offseason. He'll be the most closely watched player in training camp, and we'll hopefully have a better idea of his 2019 outlook by the time we get to late August.

The Rams expect 2nd-year LB Micah Kiser to step in for Mark Barron this season, according to the team website. L.A. released Barron after last season, jettisoning an ILB starter who played 74% of the snaps over his 12 games. Kiser sounds headed for a similar role. “It’ll be in those first and second-down plays for sure,” DC Wade Phillips said, via Myles Simmons of the team website. “Cory [Littleton] is such a good coverage guy and then we’ve got a lot of safeties that can come in and help us on third downs, so I think his main role certainly right now will be first and second down as a base defensive player.” We'll see if Kiser can grow beyond that, but he entered the league as a thumper who rated poorly in coverage. Missing sub-package situations will obviously limit his tackle upside. Kiser's realistic IDP ceiling for 2019 likely sits in LB4 range. He'll begin the year as a waiver-wire watch.

Todd Gurley's personal trainer, Travelle Gaines, recently confirmed that arthritis is at play in the RB's bothersome knee. Gaines told CBS Sports: “Everybody knew when Todd came out of Georgia that there would be some kind of arthritic component to his knee, which is part of every surgery whether it’s a shoulder, a knee, an ankle. He’s now at the year-five mark, all we’re doing is managing that. If we can pound him less in the offseason while keeping his weight down, working on his strength, working on his agility in short areas, that’s going to give him a better chance to be healthy Weeks 14 through 17 when they really count.” Gaines said he's trying to help Gurley shed 6 pounds and get down from 10% body fat to 7%. He says it's to help Gurley's quickness and not out of a need to relieve stress on the knee. Of course, Gaines isn't on L.A.'s coaching staff and wouldn't necessarily know the team's plan for its star RB. Gaines' confirmation of an earlier report arthritis report also doesn't necessarily hurt or help Gurley's 2019 fantasy outlook. We're still waiting to see how he looks this summer and how the Rams plan to deploy him.

The Rams recognize that RB Todd Gurley's days as a workhorse are over, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. "The days of Todd Gurley just being the straight-up, every-down bell cow are probably over, just based on his knee, his age, the position, the amount of carries he's had," Rapoport said. "Gurley's knee, the wear and tear on that knee, the surgically repaired knee, is something that everyone knows has been concerning to the team for some time." At this point, it's obvious that Gurley's volume will decline in 2019. What we don't yet know is how much it'll decline. Gurley averaged 22.9 touches per game in 2017 and 22.5 last year. We currently have him projected for 19.6 touches per game this season. That's subject to change, of course. We'll continue to monitor this situation and adjust Gurley's projections throughout the summer.

A couple of big-time NFL insiders -- Jay Glazer and Michael Lombardi -- used the same word when discussing Rams RB Todd Gurley's knee this weekend: "concern." Wrote Glazer: "It is a concern. The sky isn’t falling but even now, they’re being smart about it. It did swell up on him last year, this is a knee that has had wear and tear. Eventually, you’re going to factor this in especially with them having to sit him down the stretch last year. It’s not all doom and gloom, but it is definitely something you have to monitor and be prepared for in case that thing blows up on him again." And Lombardi: "Gurley's knee was a medical concern coming out of Georgia, most of the NFL was in shock when the Rams gave him that huge deal on his second contract, not because of talent, rather because of his knee." The left knee that gave Gurley trouble late last season is the same knee in which he tore the ACL in at Georgia back in 2014. The Rams admitted earlier this offseason that they're considering scaling back Gurley's workload going forward -- and that only seems more likely after they brought back Malcolm Brown and used a 3rd-round pick to add Darrell Henderson. We'll hopefully have a better idea of Gurley's status when we get into the heart of fantasy drafting season in late August. But for now, he looks like the biggest risk/reward pick in your draft. We just bumped Gurley down (and Henderson up) the RB rankings.

The Rams are holding RB Todd Gurley (knee) out of team drills in OTAs as part of a "specific, individualized offseason plan," ESPN's Lindsey Thiry reports. Gurley hasn't been spotted on the field in either of the Rams' workouts that have been open to reporters, but HC Sean McVay said he's been at the practice facility. "He's also been here consistently, pretty much every single day of the week," McVay said. "He's been an active participant following the program that we've implemented with him and we're very pleased with where Todd is at right now." Gurley's troublesome left knee will be 1 of the biggest fantasy storylines of the summer. He's been dropping to the late 1st and even the 2nd round of recent drafts.

The Rams spent a 2nd-round pick on S Taylor Rapp on Friday night. The former Washington Husky should get a shot at replacing S LaMarcus Joyner, who left for Oakland in free agency. Rapp started for most of his 3 years at Washington, stepping into the lineup and grabbing 4 INTs as a true freshman. He earned 1st-team all-conference honors each of the past 2 years and ranked 2nd on the team in sacks last year with 4. Rapp totaled just 74 solo tackles over the past 2 seasons, though, and might not be in a great spot for tackle collection with the Rams. He looks like a potentially decent IDP option rather than a future stud.

The Rams selected Memphis RB Darrell Henderson in the 3rd round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Henderson posted eye-popping numbers for the Tigers. He took 130 carries for 1,154 yards (8.9 YPC) and 9 TDs as a sophomore in 2017. Then he posted a matching 8.9 yards per carry last year, this time racking up 1,909 yards and 22 scores on 214 totes. The big-play machine busted off 27 runs of 20+ yards and 12 of 40+ in 2018 alone. He ranked 2nd in this RB class in Pro Football Focus’ Elusive Rating. Henderson also proved capable in the passing game, totaling 63 catches for 758 yards (12.0 YPC) and 8 TDs across 3 college seasons. He disappointed with a 4.53-second 40 time at the Combine (he plays much faster) but still came away with a 67th percentile SPARQ score. This is obviously a rough landing spot for Henderson — at least in the short term. But the pick might hint at some real concern about Todd Gurley’s knee.

When asked at the beginning of the offseason program this week about his knee, Rams RB Todd Gurley managed only cautious optimism to the Los Angeles Times: "I'm feeling pretty good. All I can worry about is how I'm feeling right now. I don't know how I'm going to be feeling six months from now. Just trying to make sure I feel the best when the season comes." We've all seen/heard countless examples of athletes erring on the side of confidence with their recovering body parts. That makes this response from Gurley seem fairly worrisome. If he can't even muster an "I'm feeling great" in April, it's tough to know what we can expect come October. Gurley's upside certainly remains worth a 1st-round draft slot until something more substantial comes out. (The Rams have declined to specify his knee ailment.) But Gurley belongs in the middle of the round for early drafting, rather than near the top. Backup Malcolm Brown also carries big handcuff upside into 2019 fantasy football drafts. Count on this being the most closely tracked fantasy situation of the year.

Rams WR Cooper Kupp tells the team website, "I think I'm where I'm supposed to be" in his recovery from the November ACL tear and resulting surgery. Kupp recently got back on the field for running and agility drills, and a member of the training staff echoed his assessment of the process. We'll obviously need to keep an eye on Kupp through the offseason and then training camp, but he seems on track for the beginning of the 2019 season. That said, his current PlayDraft ADP or WR21 in the middle of Round 5 strikes us as a bit high.

The Rams have matched the offer sheet RB Malcolm Brown signed with the Lions as a restricted free agent, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. It's a 2-year, $3.25 million contract, not enough money to necessarily steer what else the team does at the position. But the move might make re-signing unrestricted free agent C.J. Anderson less likely. Brown has logged just 128 total carries and 18 receptions through 4 pro seasons. He'd look a lot more attractive this year as Todd Gurley's lead backup if that's how he enters 2019 fantasy football drafts, though.

QB Blake Bortles has inked a 1-year deal with the Rams. After an up-but-mostly-down 5 seasons in Jacksonville, he'll spend at least 1 year backing up Jared Goff in Los Angeles. Perhaps spending some time under offensive whiz kid Sean McVay will be good for Bortles. He'll obviously hold no 2019 fantasy value barring a Goff injury.

 
 
 

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