After what many could have perceived as a running back by committee approach within the Los Angeles Rams offense to kick off 2019, Todd Gurley seemed to have finally taken a grip of the lead-back duties over the past few weeks.
Yet, just when all seemed right with the world, Todd Gurley was a top-scoring fantasy back and dominating touches in the team’s backfield, injury and question marks once again struck the superstar running back.
Todd Gurley is doubtful to play vs. the division rival San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Does Gurley’s unavailability make backup Malcolm Brown worthy of a starting spot in your fantasy football lineups this week? Let’s take a look.
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Malcolm Brown’s Fantasy Outlook vs. San Francisco 49ers
After accumulating 17 touches over the first two weeks of the season and outscoring Gurley two touchdowns to one, Malcolm Brown has seen a major decrease in opportunities for the Los Angeles Rams. Since his Week 2 snap count percentage of 36% (a season-high) he’s seen that percentage drop to 26%, 24%, and a measly 4% over the past three weeks. Brown touched the ball just nine times over that time frame, two fewer touches than he had in the opening game of the season alone.
Those numbers are bound to increase with the likelihood of an inactive Gurley on Sunday. However, while his touches will increase, his production may not. Brown has averaged just 2.71 yards per carry since Week 2. This week he will be running into arguably the best front-seven in all of football. Starting running backs have averaged just 45 rushing yards per game against the ‘9ers this season. Those same running backs averaged just 3.57 yards per carry. In return, San Francisco has surrendered the fewest fantasy points on average to opposing running backs this season. Only one running back has cracked double digits against them in 2019, while just two have scored more than 5.7 points.
Brown showed an ability to find the endzone in Week 1 while operating as the team’s goal-line back. The former University of Texas Longhorn scored two touchdowns and racked up 53 rushing yards on his way to a 17.3 point performance. Brown will find it extremely difficult to simulate his opening week production in Week 6. That is because the 49ers have yet to allow any running back to find the endzone this season. That includes names such as Nick Chubb, James Conner, and Joe Mixon, all guys you would likely choose to play ahead of Brown in your fantasy lineups this coming week.
In fact, the only moderate success running backs have had against the 49ers defense this season is in the passing game. From Week 1 through Week 3 RBs averaged five targets per game against San Fran, bringing in nearly four receptions in each contest. Unfortunately for Brown owners, he’s hauled in just one lonely reception all season.
Should You Start or Sit Malcolm Brown in Week 6?
Gurley fantasy owners have likely held on to Brown as their handcuff for this exact reason. However, Week 6 is not the week to put that plan into motion. Yes, it’s always possible he trips over the goal line, however, you don’t want the replacement for your likely RB1 to be touchdown or bust.
No quarterback had attempted more passes than Jared Goff entering Week 6. The quarterback has averaged an absurd 58.4 pass attempts over the past two weeks. Those statistics, plus Brown’s limitations in the passing game do not bode well for Brown owners. In fact, by the end of the weekend, you may come to the realization that you’ve held onto the wrong Rams backup running back this whole time.
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