Melvin Gordon has established himself as a standout Fantasy running back the past two years, and he's worth drafting in the first round in the majority of leagues in 2018. Gordon was the No. 8 Fantasy running back in standard leagues in 2016, and he improved on that performance last year when he finished No. 5. He had his first 1,000-yard campaign in 2017, and he scored 12 total touchdowns for the second year in a row. Gordon has also proven to be a reliable receiver with 99 total catches the past two years. He's a workhorse running back with at least 290 total touches in two years in a row, and he should continue to play at a high level this season. He's also completely healthy after starting 2017 with a minor knee issue. Gordon should be drafted as early as No. 8 overall in standard leagues and No. 10 overall in PPR.
Gordon carried the ball 10 times for 35 yards, caught both of his targets for 18 yards and also scored a touchdown in the Chargers' 24-14 preseason win over the Seahawks on Saturday. Gordon played just three drives, but he looked explosive in his limited touches bursting for a 14-yard carry that led to a two-yard touchdown three plays later. The 25-year-old remains an integral part of what figures to be a dynamic Chargers offense and has drawn rave reviews throughout training camp for his improved route running. Gordon makes for a solid cornerstone late in the first round or early in the second round of most drafts.
Gordon said he is working to diversify his route running, ESPN.com's Eric D. Williams reports. Gordon caught 99 of 140 targets for 895 yards and six TDs in 29 games the past two seasons, with his talent as an open-field runner making up for a subpar catch rate (70.7 percent) for a running back. He did nice work on screen passes and check-downs, but he knows that he needs to become comfortable with a wider array of routes to take another step as a pass catcher. The Chargers surely would appreciate any progress, as they'll need more out of their running backs and wide receivers after losing TE Hunter Henry to a torn ACL. It remains to be seen how passing-down snaps will be divided between Gordon, Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson, all of whom have shown promise in that capacity.
The Chargers officially exercised Gordon's fifth-year contract option Wednesday. Gordon's mark of 3.9 yards per carry last season doesn't jump off the page, but he did rank among the league leaders in volume, rushing 284 times and snaring 58 passes. Only Le'Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy and Todd Gurley handled more touches than Gordon, who had minimal help late in the season after Austin Ekeler suffered a broken left hand. The Chargers didn't invest much in their backfield during the draft or free agency, merely adding seventh-round pick Justin Jackson. Given the likelihood of another large workload this upcoming season, Gordon probably doesn't mind having his 2019 salary guaranteed for injury under the terms of the fifth-year option. This does, however, give the Chargers some leverage in negotiations on a contract extension, as the fifth-year option salary will probably look like a modest bargain if Gordon makes it through 2018 relatively unscathed.
The Chargers are slated to pick up Gordon's fifth-year option, a move that would keep the 25-year-old under contract with the team through the 2019 season, the Los Angeles Times reports. Gordon logged 284 carries for 1,105 yards and eight rushing TDs in 16 games last season, while adding 58 catches for 476 yards and four receiving scores. The 2015 first-rounder remains firmly atop the Chargers' running back depth chart, with Austin Ekeler and Russell Hansbrough also under contract with the team. Given that context, it's inevitable that depth at the position will be added, either through this week's draft or via free agency, with the likes of C.J. Anderson, DeMarco Murray and Alfred Morris all still looking for new teams.
Gordon (ankle) carried the ball 17 times for 93 yards and also caught six of his seven targets for 31 yards in the 30-10 shellacking of the Raiders on Sunday. You couldn't tell Gordon was limited in practice all week with a sprained ankle, as the third-year running back posted his second highest yards-per-carry average (5.5) of 2017 in a dominating performance to close the season. While the 24-year-old missed out on averaging at least four yards-per-carry for a third consecutive season, Gordon did cross the 1,000-yard threshold for the first time in his career, and also set a career-high in receptions and receiving yards. The do-it-all running back appears to be entering his prime, and in an offense hellbent on featuring its running back both on the ground and through the air, Gordon's projected usage rate will once again have him slotted among the first handful of picks in fantasy drafts come the new campaign.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/09||Kansas City Chiefs||20||17.76|
|3||09/23||@Los Angeles Rams||27||19.00|
|4||09/30||San Francisco 49ers||19||17.75|
|15||12/14||@Kansas City Chiefs||20||17.76|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||241||914||6||44||362||2||171|