Whitworth signing should be a boon for Todd Gurley

The Rams signed the ex-Bengal lineman. Jeff Ratcliffe explains how that should help the Los Angeles running back.

| 3 months ago
(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

Whitworth signing should be a boon for Todd Gurley


One of the league’s least-efficient run-blocking offensive lines just got a little better, as the Los Angeles Rams have a deal in place to sign LT Andrew Whitworth. The veteran lineman will turn 36 in December and has spent his entire career with the Bengals. He’s coming off a standout year where he graded out No. 2 among all tackles.

Many fantasy players entered last year with high hopes for Todd Gurley following his breakout rookie campaign only to see him struggle mightily for much of the year. Gurley finished a lackluster 19th among running backs in standard scoring, averaging a lowly 0.26 fantasy points per opportunity (tied for 60th among running backs).

While Gurley’s play was far from stellar, it’s unfair to place the blame for his lack of statistical output solely on him. The Rams offensive line was downright dreadful at producing yards before contact. For much of the year, they ranked dead last in this metric and finished as the fifth-worst unit with just 1.11 yards generated before contact per attempt.

Ratcliffe

Whitworth was by no means on an elite run-blocking unit, but his left side of the line in Cincinnati produced nearly a full yard more before contact than the Rams’ left side. On plays with Whitworth specifically on the field, running backs averaged 1.81 yards before contact when running to his side. Greg Robinson managed just 0.71 on runs to his side. Whitworth is also an upgrade over Robinson, who is expect to move to guard, in as a pass-blocker. He yielded a pressure on just 2.5 percent of his pass-block snaps. Greg Robinson was triple that rate at 7.5 percent.

Adding one player doesn’t completely solve the Rams’ multitude of problems, but Whitowrth’s presence will help generate more space for Gurley and should go a long way in protecting second-year QB Jared Goff.

| Director of Fantasy

Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.

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