On Friday, Broncos agreed to terms with almost 27 year old, 2x pro-bowl running back, Melvin Gordon. Aside from the immediate excitement of revenge games versus his former team the Los Angeles Chargers, the running game will take a leap forward in 2020. Denver and MGIII agreed to a two year deal worth $16 million, $13.5 million guaranteed, making him the 6th highest paid running back in the league. Denver will be one of only three teams with two pro-bowl running backs on their roster. While I’m not thrilled about the contract, I’m enticed by Gordon’s pass catching ability, as well as his blocking ability, and am hopeful this move will make sense come the end of 2020.
Gordon missed the first four weeks of the 2019 season holding out to try to get the contract he wanted from the Chargers. In the games he did play, Gordon amassed 612 yards and eight touchdowns, with an average of 3.8 yards per carry. It’s not the most delicious looking stat line, in all honesty, but when you factor in the help he can provide in the redzone and on the offensive line it makes the signing look more appealing.
Broncos hired Pat Shurmur as their offense coordinator at the end of the 2019 season. Pat has over 30 years of coaching experience, including two stints as a head coach to the Cleveland Browns from 2011-2012 and the New York Giants from 2018-2019. At the beginning of off season, Pat said “I think it is important for a runner to be able to catch,” adding “There are three elements to playing running back. Number one, when you hand it to them, they have to have good vision, balance, body control, collision balance and they have to be able to run with the ball and score. You certainly need to be able to pass protect to protect the quarterback. If you can’t catch the ball out of the backfield or you can’t have an impact in some way — and it doesn’t mean down the field, but maybe it’s a check-down or something thing in the flat — then it’s hard to be a full runner.” an important statement directed with side-eyes right at Phillip Lindsay, who has only caught 35 passes in each of the last two seasons. In contrast, Gordon has caught at least 40 receptions in four of his last five seasons. It’s important to note, Melvin Gordon has played a full 16 game season only once in his career. He’ll also need to work on ball security; in the two years Phillip Lindsay has been in the backfield for the Broncos, he’s not fumbled once, whereas Gordon fumbled three times last season and has a total of 14 fumbles in his career.
What does the running back move mean for fantasy?
While the move is appealing to live football, it looks less stellar for any Phillip Lindsay shares, and all but puts the flame out of any Royce Freeman shares. MGIII is likely to get the most shares out of the running back room, especially when you factor in his ability to pass catch, however – that may prove good for Lindsay who is explosive and when well rested can break off 10+ yard carries with minimal effort. Gordon ultimately lands in a RB2 spot and, for the time being drops Lindsay to a RB3. That being said, with an ever-growing chip on his shoulder, and the inspiration of another undrafted player leap-frogging Gordon, don’t be surprised if Lindsay eventually stakes claim to Denver’s number one running back spot once again.
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