2018 Fantasy Football Offseason: Melvin Gordon chasing 'archrival' Todd Gurley's success

Melvin Gordon had a great season in 2017. He was the No. 5 Fantasy running back in standard leagues, and he was No. 7 in rushing yards in the NFL. He also set career highs in nearly every major statistical category.

But he wasn't satisfied. Far from it.

Gordon watched as someone he considers his "archrival" dominate the NFL. That would be Todd Gurley, who was a MVP candidate and the No. 1 Fantasy running back last year.

Gurley was awesome, and that's who Gordon plans to chase down this season.

"My archrival went crazy this year," Gordon said in an interview with CBS Sports on radio row for Super Bowl LII in Minnesota. "That's all the motivation I need right there. He's a good buddy of mine, but we're going to compete to the end."

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Melvin Gordon LAC • RB • 28
2017 stats
ATT284
YDS1,105
TD8
YPC3.9
REC58
REC YDS476
REC TD4

Gordon said he and Gurley have been compared to each other since college, and both came into the NFL in the same draft class in 2015. Gurley was selected first at No. 10 overall by the Rams from Georgia, and Gordon went at No. 15 overall to the Chargers from Wisconsin.

Gurley won rookie of the year honors that season, and Gordon struggled, even failing to score a touchdown in 2015. But Gordon was the better of the two as sophomores in 2016 when Gurley was a huge bust.

Then came this year. While Gordon had a solid campaign with 284 carries for 1,105 yards (3.9 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns and 58 catches for 476 yards and four touchdowns, Gurley was a statistical monster. He went off for 279 carries for 1,305 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and 13 touchdowns and 64 catches for 788 yards and six scores.

That's the neighborhood Gordon wants to be in 2018. And he feels he can get there.

"You go out there and attack it," Gordon said. "You have to be driven."

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said Gordon is capable of more than what he showed in 2017, which was the first season the two worked together. Lynn, who spent 14 years as a running backs coach and offensive coordinator before coming to the Chargers last year (he coached guys like LaDainian Tomlinson, LeSean McCoy, Fred Taylor and Jamal Lewis), liked the way Gordon closed the season over his final four games.

Lynn said Gordon was finally healthy over that stretch -- he entered 2017 coming off a knee injury from 2016 -- and he finished with 77 carries for 330 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and three touchdowns and 16 catches for 174 yards. Gordon scored at least 12 Fantasy points in a standard league in every game during that span.

"I thought he was one of the best runners in the game the last four weeks," Lynn said of Gordon at the NFL Combine. "It just seems like the bigger the game, the better he plays."

The Chargers offensive line could be better in 2018, which would help Gordon. The team added center Mike Pouncey as a free agent from Miami, and right guard Forrest Lamp will hopefully be healthy after missing his rookie season in 2017 with a torn ACL.

Better blocking should help Gordon improve on his career average of 3.8 yards per carry, which is something that his detractors like to bring up as a negative. But as Lynn pointed out with the success Gordon had during his final four games, he averaged 4.3 yards per carry over that stretch.

That has Lynn excited for his outlook this year.

"We're talking about giving the ball to Melvin more," Lynn said.

Gordon might not catch Gurley this season in terms of production, but that doesn't really matter for Fantasy owners as long as Gordon is as productive as he was in 2017.

While Gurley will likely be the No. 1 overall pick in the majority of leagues on Draft Day, Gordon won't be far behind. He will probably be selected around No. 8 overall, and he will definitely be drafted in the first round.

And if Gordon does fare better than Gurley -- remember that happened in 2016 -- then hopefully it's because both were exceptional. That would make this rivalry all the more fun.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Jamey Eisenberg has been a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBS Sports since 2006 with a focus on Fantasy Football. A University of Florida grad (class of '98), Jamey got his start in the newspaper business and... Full Bio

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