5 Running Backs Going Way Too High in Drafts (Busts)
Now that we’ve got all of the glowing, eyelash-batting, supportive talk about breakout running backs out of the way, it’s time for a little dose of negativity. Below I’ve broken down five running backs who are sure to suck value out of your draft capital if you’re taking them at their current average draft position. For a general overview of when to draft running backs, take a look at our recent guide on the subject.
1.09 Melvin Gordon, Chargers (RB6)
(August 26th Update: Thanks in large part to the points we will discuss below, Melvin Gordon's ADP has dropped to 4.02 as the RB20. Pat yourself on the back if you were fading him in the first two rounds throughout the last month!)
Thanks, LeVeon Bell.
Prior to last season, we would have thought it almost impossible for a player to skip out entirely on a season of paychecks. But after the consensus 1.02 pick from last year’s drafts sat out all 16 games before signing with the New York Jets this spring, Melvin Gordon owners and potential drafters are scared crap-less. Rightly so. Gordon is currently holding out of training camp action as he demands a re-up on his contract or a possible trade. With seemingly no end in sight (the team and Gordon are purportedly $2 - $3 million apart in yearly salary), the draft community is reacting but are they acting fast enough?
Gordon was going in the 1.06–1.08 range as recently as two weeks ago but is now falling to the end of the first/beginning of the second-round range. The difference between this holdout and Le’Veon’s holdout is simple: the Chargers already have an established one-two punch behind Gordon and they’ve already seen a ton of action when Gordon only managed 524 snaps in 2018—a mere 52.4% of the Chargers’ offensive snaps. Even though he was on the field for only half of the team’s plays, San Diego still managed to finish the season 12 -4, losing in the AFC Divisional Round to the New England Patriots.
Gordon isn’t getting any support from the quarterback of his team, either. When asked about the situation on the final day of training camp, Philip Rivers replied, “It certainly is a deep position for us, and those guys all love to play and work hard. We love Melvin, but we’re going to go with what we’ve got. It’s a pretty dang good group.”
All signs point to this lasting well into the season, even though Melvin’s contract will force him to pay fines of up to $40,000 for each day of training camp he misses. Again, comparing to LeVeon’s situation; Bell was technically not under contract because the Steelers were trying to slap the franchise tag on him and thus, Pittsburgh could not fine him. This further reduces Gordon’s leverage and locks us in a stalemate.
Melvin Gordon still has upside and needs to be on your team if you have the patience to outlast the rest of your league, but he shouldn’t be going at the initial first/second turn, and probably not in the second at all. In the meantime, it’s time to look at other pieces of the backfield. I’ll just leave this here:
Melvin Gordon vs. Austin Ekeler (2017-18):
- Early-down success rate on runs: AK 35%, MG 26%
- Success rate on all runs: AK 35%, MG 28%
- Success rate on all targets: AK 45%, MG 35%
- Success rate on all opportunities: AK 39%, MG 29%
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) July 27, 2019
3.08 David Montgomery, Bears (RB19)
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