In 2020, Melvin Gordon showed he still had some football left in his tank. After signing a big contract with his rival AFC West foes, the Denver Broncos, Gordon finished as the RB13 in 0.5 PPR leagues. He saw 44 targets in 2020, just as many as Antonio Gibson, and he saw about 2.9 targets a game, with a 7% target rate or targets per snap. All of this is to say Melvin Gordon is being written off a little too soon. Many are already penciling in Javonte Williams, the Broncos' second-round pick as the likely starter, but according to beat reports around camp right now, Melvin Gordon is fully entrenched as the RB1. After going as the RB20 in Underdog Drafts in 2020 and returning a value of RB13, why aren’t we drafting more of Melvin Gordon in 2021? A year after having an ADP of 41, he’s going into 2021 with an ADP of 119. The Denver Broncos owned the eighth highest rush percentage in 2020 with a run ratio of 47% of their snaps. So there’s still plenty of work left for Melvin Gordon to take advantage of in 2021. Remember he gave us over 1100 total yards while boasting a respectable 4.7 yards per carry. Vegas currently has the Broncos with the 19th highest win total at 8.5 wins, which could favor the running game since it means Vegas is anticipating the Broncos to win half their games, which means they’ll be in favorable running game scripts.
As many of us know, Melvin Gordon is entering his age 28 season, a season where many running backs end up falling off and becoming a shell of their previous selves. The Broncos also traded up in the second round to take Javonte Williams, a running back out of the University of North Carolina. Many indications are that fantasy drafters have all but written off Melvin Gordon, thinking its Williams show but as we’ve seen over the years, it’s very hard for a rookie running back to come in and dominate touches and it’s even harder if you aren’t a first-round rookie running back. There is a scenario within his range of outcomes where Melvin Gordon has fallen off the cliff and this becomes a two-man show instead of the show that Gordon showed us last year when he had the 11th most touches of all RBs in 2020 and averaged a robust 17 touches a game.
2021 Bottom Line
We all know Melvin Gordon is getting up there in age, but it feels like we are a year early in saying that Gordon won’t be able to replicate what he did in 2020. Yes, the Broncos drafted a rookie running back in 2021, but they also lost Phillip Lindsey, and Vic Fangio's head coaching job could be on the line if they find themselves on the wrong side of another losing season. One fumble or one bad pass pro assignment and Javonte Williams could find himself on the bench while Melvin Gordon racks up all the touches since the only other running backs the Broncos currently have are Royce Freeman and Mike Boone. Melvin Gordon having such a low ADP doesn’t allow for much risk but allows for a ton of value. At 4for4 we currently have him as the RB43, a season after he finished as the RB13.