In this issue of fantasy spotlight we focus on Melvin Gordon of the Los Angeles Chargers. After a disappointing rookie campaign, Gordon exploded on to the scene in 2016. He anchored a fairly productive backfield and received the lion’s share of carries with very little competition from anyone else on the team. We will take a look at his performance last year and what we should expect in 2017 prior to your fantasy draft.
2016 Stats and Analysis
After a very mediocre rookie year, few people had faith in Gordon’s ability to be fantasy relevant. However, starting with Week 1, Gordon’s production skyrocketed due to his number of carries and overall touchdown count. He has at least 14 carries in every single game he played last season and often well into the mid-20s in terms of carries per game. Although his rushing yardage varied from 35 to 196, the touchdown rate was extremely high and provided fantasy owners with a reliable RB1 option. Prior to injuring his hip in Week 14, Gordon was one of the top running backs in the league. Gordon didn’t play in Weeks 15, 16 or 17 and only ran three times in Week 14 prior to getting injured, otherwise he would have been ranked higher than eighth in his position.
Gordon should have a very productive 2017 season mainly due to two factors:
- There is absolutely no competition in the backfield. The only other somewhat reliable back was Danny Woodhead last year, but now he is with Baltimore. Gordon will get fed early and often in this offense and will be the premiere back for the Chargers. He is right in the prime of his career and should be healthier now than he ever will be and should be able to carry the ball as many times as the offensive coordinator will allow.
- Not only will Gordon be physically ready to handle the high workload, but the Chargers’ new coach, Anthony Lynn, and offensive coordinator, Ken Whisenhunt, are ready to focus on the running game. With an improving offensive line, a new coach and coordinator, and more experience, Gordon should be ready for a big year.
To plays devil’s advocate, there are a couple things that might be unnerving to some owners who are considering drafting Gordon:
- The first is his history of injuries. After his first season he had to have microsurgery, which isn’t a deal breaker, but still is something worth noting. Then last year his season-ending hip injury rendered him useless for most of the entire playoffs in most leagues. With such a high workload there is a better chance his body will break down and with more carries simply increases the chance an injury occurs.
- The second thing that should be worrisome is that last year Gordon was fairly touchdown dependent. He only registered a little better than 3 yards per carry, which certainly isn’t good, but when a decent portion of those are within the 10-yard line it isn’t a big deal. If the touchdowns don’t come so easy for Gordon in 2017 you might have trouble relying on him each week.
By all indications Gordon should have a good 2017. His health, lack of competition and the state of the Chargers offense all point to another fantasy rich year for owners. Other than the two concerns mentioned above there isn’t much to dislike about Gordon and he should be considered pretty highly on your list of running backs. Gordon is a safe Top-10 running back with the potential to be top 4.
Melvin Gordon Prediction: RB1. Draft in Round 2 or later.
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