Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley is highly touted as the best back around the league. His contribution to the Rams offense on any given Sunday is enormous, but he should expect even more on Thursday Night’s showdown with the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota has a stellar unit of defensive backs, led by lockdown corner Xavier Rhodes and star safety Harrison Smith. It is easy to see that the Rams will likely have a very hard time trying to throw the ball in the Coliseum on Thursday Night. Enter running back Todd Gurley, who resides in the top-five in the NFL in rushing yards after three weeks.
Gurley’s job will likely be made easier on Thursday Night by an offensive line that has ranked amongst the best in the NFL thus far. Combine that the fact that the Vikings are missing a key defensive lineman, Everson Griffen, due to a difficult personal situation. So how will the most important player on the Rams offense respond? My guess is quite well, with a big workload early and often.
Gurley is averaging over 20 rushes per game so far this season, combined with nearly five targets per game in the passing game. He is the crucial cog in the Rams offense, hitting holes quickly and dropping a shoulder on defenders to gain an extra yard. Expect a heavy dose of Gurley on early downs in an effort to set the Rams up with manageable third downs. Minnesota already has 10 sacks on the young season, so getting the ball out of Jared Goff’s hand quickly will be crucial.
Speaking of getting the ball out of Goff’s hand quickly, the screen game is a great way to do so. Gurley has been amongst the best in the NFL in the screen game, thanks to great lead blocks from the likes of Andrew Whitworth and Rodger Saffold. Last season, his first in McVay’s offense, Gurley averaged over 12.3 yards per catch. He is singing the same tune this season, averaging exactly 11 yards per catch through the first three weeks of the season. So if the Vikings look to dial up the pressure on Goff I would expect McVay to lean on the screen game to keep that pressure at bay.
If you’re a daily fantasy player even when there is just one game to choose from, I would place all my chips in on Gurley. If the Rams are to find their way to 4-0 it will likely come on the back of their workhorse, star running back. When the Vikings fell to the Bills this past Sunday, Buffalo was finding plenty of success on the ground (rushing for over 120 yards). Look for L.A. to try to follow that same blueprint to victory on Thursday Night Football.