Preseason Takeaway: Melvin Gordon leads running backs making noise
Melvin Gordon only had four official touches in his first preseason game, but it was enough to show Fantasy owners he just might meet his potential after all.
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Judging an NFL player from four touches gained over five snaps (including one play called back by a penalty) is the exact equivalent to literally judging a book by its cover. But man, the cover on the Melvin Gordon book went from ragged and ugly to eye-catching and shiny.
Gordon stunk last year. His offensive line stunk, he ran with little confidence or juice and eventually ended his season with an injury and no touchdowns. Then he underwent microfracture surgery on his knee in the offseason, which is always tricky. But in this sliver of action, Gordon flashed.
He ran more aggressively and was helped by a (finally) healthy offensive line. The aggression meshed with speed on his touchdown grab when he was left wide open by Titans linebacker Avery Williamson in the right flat and cruised toward pay dirt, trucking a Titans defender into the end zone as he scored. His night ended after that.
Questions about how the Chargers would use Gordon may have been put to bed as well -- he started and handled every non-obvious passing down (Danny Woodhead took those). If we keep seeing that in the preseason then it should be assumed it'll continue into the regular season when the Chargers play at the Chiefs.
He looked good and he played in a role that could net him 15 touches per week. This is about as good a start you could hope for.
If you're the optimistic type, you could use some foresight to see Gordon as a potential 225-carry/250-touch back this season. There's still concern for injury, and there's no doubt the Chargers will throw plenty this season (costing Gordon some carries), but Gordon is someone Fantasy owners should start feeling better about drafting. If you're drafting soon, give him a look in Round 5.
If you're not the optimistic type then just keep an eye on Gordon over the next two weeks. If he continues to look like the guy we thought he was coming out of Wisconsin, then move him up in your own rankings accordingly.
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