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1. Todd Gurley is your No. 1 overall pick in 2016. End of story.
We're all familiar with the Gurley preseason narrative.
Patience. Patience. Patience.
Off a devastating knee injury while a junior at Georgia just months prior, the Rams organization exercised extreme caution with its first-round pick. Instead of pushing him too hard, too early, they trusted their medical evaluations, held him out of exhibition action and eased him into the NFL routine. That approach has paid enormous dividends.
Gurley, like Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson before him, is the game's next great power back. And for fantasy owners who scored him at a discount in drafts this past August, he's pure gold.
In his first five games, Gurley has flattened everyone in his path. He's amassed 643 total yards, averaged 6.12 yards per carry and scored three touchdowns. If he keeps up that torrid pace, he'll finish with 1,800 total yards and eight scores in 14 games, which would be the 14th-best line for a rookie rusher in NFL history using standard fantasy points as a measuring stick. His YPC would be second only to Jim Brown among all qualifying rushers in a season ever.
With Le'Veon Bell possibly done for the season after suffering a nasty knee injury, it can be argued, barring disaster, the Ram will be the indisputable No. 1 overall pick in fantasy drafts next year. And I would've likely taken him at the top even before Bell's injury. The kid's remarkable power, open-field speed and versatility are textbook three-down skills. St. Louis' unyielding defense and young, improving offensive line offer additional support.
Those in formats where six-points are scored for all TDs could argue Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady is worth the top pick. But considering how scarce high-volume backs are in the league today, Gurley deserves to be the most coveted commodity in the virtual game.
2. The fantasy weathervane will point West often down the stretch
When Jamaal Charles was felled by a gnarly knee injury a few weeks back, the fantasy community was split on whether Knile Davis or Charcandrick West would be the back to own. Hoping to capture lightning in a bottle with the latter, many blew FAAB budgets on potential.
Boy, has it paid off.
After a rocky 39-total yard, 0-TD initial effort in Minnesota, West has traveled in a very favorable fantasy direction. Last week, he pounded Pittsburgh en route to 129 total yards and a touchdown. In the follow-up against Detroit in London he resembled a double-decker bus, rolling over the Hello Kitties for 120 combined yards and another score.
In his three starts the Abliene Christian product has gained over 50 percent of his yards after initial contact and displayed excellent versatility and burst. Running behind a Chiefs O-line that ranks top-10 in run-blocking according to Football Outsiders, he's officially entered RB1 territory in 12-team leagues, a place he'll likely plant firm roots rest of season. Post-bye, the Chiefs boast several appealing matchups, including tilts against San Diego (twice), Oakland, Baltimore and home versus Cleveland Week 16. Suffice it to say, the previously little known RB will be a cornerstone on many championship rosters, a true waiver wire hero.
3. Nate Washington is killing the competition softly
Down Arian Foster and tortured in all facets defensively, Houston has certainly experienced its fair share of hard knocks this season. If not for DeAndre Hopkins and Washington, many would label it a fantasy wasteland.
Surprised by that second name? Don't be.
It's time Washington earns your respect. In five games this year, the journeyman wideout has delivered a top-20 per game line, including his 4-74-1 contribution Week 8 against Tennessee. The Texans' horrendous defense, Brian Hoyer's emergence and favorable coverages have transformed Washington from waiver wire fodder to reliable weekly starter.
The Texans are on siesta Week 9, but with remaining matchups against New Orleans, Buffalo, New England and Indy, among others, remaining, the veteran could continue to cash, especially in garbage time. Only owned in 25 percent of Yahoo leagues, he is a must-add, highly employable WR3 rest of season. If you're a snake-bit Steve Smith Sr. owner, go get him.
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