After recent free-agent signings that resulted in both marquee RBs joining new teams, there is an internal debate happening at RosterWatch over Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley. Both are former elite fantasy options whose situations have changed drastically heading into 2020.
A year ago Melvin Gordon was offered a deal, which in retrospect looks pretty good. The L.A. Chargers allegedly offered him close to $10 million per season, likely on a short term deal. Gordon scoffed at the offer, opting to hold out into the season in order to strengthen his position with the Chargers. His gamble did not pay off as Austin Ekeler emerged as an excellent modern-day running back. A month into the NFL season, Gordon realized that his leverage evaporated and he agreed to play. Gordon completed the 2019 season, and in 2020 he entered the free agency market.
Gordon was greeted with a colder-than-expected market along with a surplus of quality rookie running back prospects entering the 2020 NFL Draft. Gordon and his agent settled for a deal in Denver worth approximately $7.5 million per year, making him the sixth highest-paid player at his position at the time of this publication.
From a fantasy perspective, Gordon finds himself once again facing stiff competition for carries this time from Philip Lindsay, who has exceeded expectations in his first two seasons. As Alex Dunlap points out on The RosterWatch Fantasy Football Podcast, Episode #228 (embed a link) Gordon is also a sneaky injury risk.
However, Byron is quick to point out that Gordon has proven he’s a three down back with plus capability in the passing game, an area where Lindsay has sorely lacked, which could result in PPR appeal. Also, that former third-round pick, Royce Freeman, is still on Denver’s roster but “looks like toast” and can safely be assumed a backup heading into 2020- making Melvin Gordon an upside RB2 heading into the 2020 season. Which if current RD4 best-ball ADPs hold up, could represent screaming value.
If you won your fantasy football league in the past three years there is a good chance Todd Gurley was on your team. Only a few years ago, he was the prototype of what a modern-day elite NFL fantasy running back looks like. He was flooded with targets in the passing game, a monster between the tackles, and a nose for the endzone when near the goal line, Gurley was the closest modern-day example we had to Ladainian Tomlinson, Priest Holmes, Marshall Faulk, and peak Lesean McCoy. We all knew there could be impending doom with Gurley’s arthritic knees, but the weekly dominance was too good to be passed on. By the end of 2018, things changed for Gurley when he missed week 16, the championship game for most fantasy leagues. There was something off, he was held out of playoff games and the Super Bowl which was a bad sign of things to come for fantasy players entering the 2019 season.
Todd Gurley was the most polarizing player in early 2019 fantasy drafts. Some experts refused to let him fall out of the first round and others wouldn’t even click “draft” in the third round. The cost you paid for Gurley in 2019 would determine how you’d rate his fantasy season. He finished as RB15 in PPR leagues, a perfectly reasonable outcome for a third-round pick; not so much for a first-round player.
Fast forward to free agency 2020, Todd Gurley is cut by the L.A. Rams, and quickly signed to a solid six-million dollar, one year contract by the Falcons. The one year deal doesn’t exactly alleviate concerns regarding Gurley’s health, or that the team could draft a running back in April. However, this could also be a run ’em until the wheels come off scenario, for a regime on it’s last leg in Atlanta.
As Alex and Byron noted on the show – it’s a Georgia homecoming of sorts, and a plus landing spot for TGIII, with no real threat to his workloa. He should be a lock for 16-18 touches/game. It’s also likely he inherits Devonta Freeman‘s large target share from last season, after having been underutilized in the passing game in LA in 2019 – which means Gurley should come out of the gate hot, and has plenty of RB2 appeal in upcoming 2020 Fantasy Football Drafts.
Based on current ADPs, Gurley is a safe and quality play with lots of upside. However, Melvin Gordon represents the superior draft value, and the early intel coming from Denver says that speculation of Gordon’s potential time-share with Lindsay may be exaggerated.