As we gear up to the start of the NFL season, Football Absurdity is going to bring you a comprehensive breakdown of every notable player that will be available in fantasy football drafts. Melvin Gordon held out for four games last season, and didn’t get what he wanted. Unless “what he wanted” was an extremely disappointing contract to join a muddled backfield in Denver. In that case, Gordon got exactly what he wanted. Will you get what you want if you draft Melvin Gordon in your 2020 fantasy football leagues?
Melvin Gordon ADP and AAV:
Standard Scoring ADP: RB16, 32 overall
PPR Scoring ADP: RB17, 35 overall
Average Auction Value: $22
Melvin Gordon Statistics:
Melvin Gordon Overview:
If you look at Melvin Gordon’s year-end statistics, they are somewhat underwhelming: 612 rushing yards on 162 carries, and 296 receiving yards on 55 targets, and nine total touchdowns. Granted, that was in just 12 games, and his season-long pace was 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns. In other words: a Melvin Gordon season. However, you have to consider something: Melvin Gordon missed everything. He held out through everything. No preseason, no nothing. He had to get his sea legs back under him. Let’s toss out the first four weeks after his return, and call them his preseason. After that point, he averaged 95 yards per game and scored seven touchdowns in eight games. He was classic Melvin Gordon (even though he stumbled down the stretch, his three touchdowns in the last two games helped cover that up).
Now, Gordon is in Denver and faces a split backfield with Philip Lindsay, who played well enough last season but had a crisis of touches. There’s also the Royce Freeman problem, Denver set Freeman aside down the stretch last year in favor of Lindsay, who they have now set aside in favor of Gordon. I expect Gordon to lead this backfield in touches—whatever that might mean—and be the best fantasy asset. But, that’s the rub. Gordon can score a lot of touchdowns but he is not efficient on a per-touch basis. He’s topped 250 touches twice in his career, and he is yet to top 4.0 yards per carry in more than one season (his 5.1 in 2018 is propping up his career average). There’s a lot of touchdown upside… provided the Broncos use him exactly as the Chargers did.
Melvin Gordon Draft Strategy:
Paying the price for Melvin Gordon feels like such a risky proposition at this stage. He’s on a new team, in a new altitude, in an offseason where we can’t know how things are going at practice. Likely because there haven’t been any so far. Despite all of that, he’s going before James Conner and Chris Carson, depending on the format. We haven’t answered the Philip Lindsay Question, and Royce Freeman still lurks.
Initially, I was in on Melvin Gordon. I thought he provided excellent value before the question marks that come after him. Here’s what I failed to consider: Melvin Gordon is, himself, a massive question mark in Denver. That’s what we are working with. If you hit a tier of question mark players (Gordon, Lev Bell, Fournette, Carson, David Johnson, James Conner, the list goes on and on)… don’t take the first guy. Take the value guy. If you break the seal on that tier and he ends up sucking, you will greatly wish you had waited for an extra round to throw a dart at a different running back.
His auction value is $17, so that tells you we don’t hate Gordon in Denver. We’re just… cautious about Gordon in Denver. More cautious than most people, and if we are wrong, we’ll be wrong with $17 FAAB spent in a different spot, instead of being wrong and blowing $22 on him.
Best Case Scenario:
Melvin Gordon is used exactly like he was in Los Angeles: inefficiently and on the goal-line enough to punch in touchdowns to buoy his fantasy football value.
Worst Case Scenario:
Melvin Gordon is an L.A. Chargers sleeper agent, and he activates in week one. He goes for 3.8 yards per carry and is generally inefficient enough to torch Den—hold on. I’m getting word that inefficiency is just Melvin Gordon doing his best. Whoops. Sorry.
[Statistics are sourced from pro-football-reference.com and airyards.com]