Branden Oliver is a free agent this offseason, and he will look to sign with a new team as a reserve running back this year. He spent 2017 with the Chargers, but he was third at best on the depth chart behind Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. He's not expected to return to the Chargers in 2018, and it's doubtful he will make a significant Fantasy impact wherever he signs. Ignore him on Draft Day in all formats.
Oliver played in eight games this season, carrying the ball 35 times for 83 yards and also catching six passes for 26 yards. Oliver was projected for a larger role in Week 17 with Melvin Gordon seemingly limited by an ankle injury, but the 2015 first-round pick exploded for over 120 total yards in the dominant win, relegating Oliver to his usual diminished workload. The 26-year-old was slotted to be the de-facto backup behind Gordon entering the year, but was quickly passed by explosive undrafted rookie Austin Ekeler, and was moved further down the depth chart after sustaining a broken wrist. An unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career, Oliver might be a candidate to move on from the Chargers given the emergence of Ekeler and the potential return of Andre Williams (wrist), who hit injured reserve in Week 14. A small but stoutly built running back, Oliver doesn't figure to be anything more than a change-of-pace option for whatever team he joins.
Oliver will serve in a reserve role Sunday against the Raiders with Melvin Gordon (ankle) active for the contest. There was some thought that Oliver could enter the starting lineup for the regular-season finale after Melvin Gordon was unable to practice Wednesday due to the ankle sprain he sustained in the Week 16 win over the Jets, but Gordon ultimately gained clearance for Sunday after turning in a pair of limited sessions later in the week. Even so, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network suggests that the Chargers aren't sure how long Gordon will be able to play through the pain in his ankle Sunday, potentially setting up Oliver for an elevated role if Gordon incurs an in-game setback. Oliver didn't have much success against the Jets in his first extended action in several weeks, rushing eight times for just nine yards.
Oliver could act as the Chargers' lead back Sunday against the Raiders if Melvin Gordon (ankle) is sidelined for the contest, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times reports. Oliver hasn't been pressed into a full-time role since 2014 and has languished in seven games in 2017, averaging just 2.5 yards per carry on 28 totes. However, with Gordon failing to practice Wednesday and uncertain to suit up in the regular-season finale while he nurses a sprained ankle and Austin Ekeler's broken ring finger likely to prevent him from contributing on offense, opportunity knocks for Oliver in a game that will determine the Chargers' playoff fate. Oliver's poor efficiency this season creates some justified skepticism about his fantasy prospects in Week 17, but the potential absences of Gordon and Ekeler from the game plan would likely leave Oliver in line to handle the overwhelming share of the touches out of the backfield.
Oliver carried the ball eight times for nine yards in Sunday's 14-7 win over the Jets. Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times reported starter Melvin Gordon didn't leave Sunday's game unscathed, as the first-time 1,000-yard rusher was seen wearing a walking boot Tuesday. While head coach Anthony Lynn remained guarded talking about his star running back's health come Week 17, if Gordon were to miss any time Oliver is expected to see the majority of the carries, and potentially receiving targets as well given that the team's surprisingly sturdy rookie, Austin Ekeler, broke his ring finger in Week 15. While Ekeler was active Sunday, he didn't see a snap on offense meaning Oliver would in all likelihood be "the guy" against the Raiders if Gordon were to be limited in the final week of the regular season.
Oliver will step in as the Chargers' No. 2 running back if Austin Ekeler isn't able to play with a broken hand over the team's final two games of the regular season, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times reports. Ekeler has mostly made an impact on passing downs and special teams, with the latter still a potential area for contribution if he ends up playing with a club on the hand. Even if Ekeler isn't placed on injured reserve, Oliver may take over as the top backup to workhorse Melvin Gordon. The role likely won't come with many touches, and the Chargers may adjust to Ekeler's absence by using Gordon more often on passing downs.
|* 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||22||64||0||6||46||0||10|