A few days ago, Melvin Gordon, running back for the Los Angeles Chargers, shocked the football community by openly disputing his current contract. Gordon is on the last year of his rookie deal and has requested a trade if he doesn’t receive a new “market value” contract. Gordon and his agent have even threatened to go the Leveon Bell route and sit out the entire season if necessary.
If the Chargers move on from Gordon, what teams could step up and pay him what he is looking for? What kind of impact does this dispute have on Gordon’s fantasy football value? Here are the most likely suitors in the Gordon sweepstakes and who could potentially replace him in L.A.
The Texans have had a workhorse running back in Lamar Miller since he came into the league in 2014. Miller is widely considered as a serviceable back, averaging about 981 rushing yards per season. He was invited to his first Pro Bowl in 2018 thanks to a rare completely healthy season.
The problem with Miller is that he lacks explosiveness. Anyone who has been stuck drafting him in fantasy football can tell you that he rarely wins you a week. He has a solid floor, but isn’t able to create opportunity as most backs can. The Texans have one of the worst offensive lines in football. Houston needs a running back that can break tackles and create holes. Miller simply isn’t that guy.
The best way to compare the two backs is in touchdowns. Gordon came into the league a year after Miller, and he already has ten more scores. This could be because of the potent Chargers offense over the years, but is also a testament to the elusiveness of Gordon.
Miller turned 28 in April and isn’t under contract for the 2020 campaign. The Texans can cut ties this year and save $6.2 million to offset the acquisition of a possible replacement. With Gordon looking at a deal worth something similar to Bell and Gurley ($48 million), the Texans could potentially use their savings to sign Gordon to a long-term deal.
The Buffalo Bills are the retirement home of NFL running backs. Their starting running back is LeSean McCoy, who is now on the wrong side of 30. Buffalo also brought in journeyman Frank Gore to back him up. Gore turned 36 this past season. McCoy is coming off a career-worst statistical performance. He produced a menial 514 rushing yards, 3.2 yards per attempt and 36.7 rushing yards per game. The biggest problem is that McCoy is one of the leagues highest-paid backs. In no way do his 2019 stats represent his $9.05 million dollar cap hit in 2019.
The Bills brought in a rookie running back with their third-round pick in Devin Singletary and signed T.J. Yeldon in the offseason. They have depth, but it is just average talent depth. Bringing in Gordon would make this offense more dangerous than it has been in years. Quarterback, Josh Allen, could use a pass-catching back like Gordon. A pass-catching back can help limit the wear and tear any quarterback takes when rushing for approximately 60 yards per game.
A team with a great defense and a head coach that wants to run the ball; Melvin Gordon’s importance only grows. The Bills lack an offensive player of his caliber and should empty their wallets to bring Gordon in.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When looking at the Tampa Bay roster, it is impossible not to notice that they have potentially the worst running back stable in the NFL. It is tough to say who is going to be their starter this season. But primary duties appear to be between Ronald Jones or Peyton Barber. Neither back inspires much confidence. The Buccaneers haven’t had a 1,000-yard back since the 2015 campaign. Barber’s 871 rushing yards in 2018 were the most by an individual over the last three seasons.
New head coach Bruce Arians is known for leaning heavily on a workhorse back. He elevated the career of David Johnson with the Cardinals before retiring from coaching. Tampa does not have a workhorse back, and Gordon would fill that role perfectly. The only problem with T.B. is that they have very little cap space to make a significant move. If they wanted to bring in Gordon, they would need to find ways to increase their available cap space. A trade with the Chargers would be the best way to do that.
Melvin Gordon Fantasy Impact
Where ever Gordon goes, we know that he will still be an elite running back. Offensive line wise, T.B. might be the best opportunity. More interestingly, what would happen to the Los Angeles Chargers running game if Gordon did leave?
The Chargers have a deep running back core with Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome. Ekeler graded among the top seven running backs last season in overall grade, yards per carry, and yards per target. He finished last season with 958 yards of total offense and six touchdowns. That was good enough for Ekeler to finish as the 25th highest scoring running back in PPR formats.
Ekeler is an excellent pass-catching back who, like Gordon, can make defenders miss and create opportunity. If Gordon were to leave, Ekeler would be the clear number one back on the Chargers offense.
Behind Ekeler, there would most likely be a competition between Jackson and Newsome. Last season Jackson showed some flashes scoring between 14 and 16 PPR points in the games that Gordon sat out. The Los Angeles Chargers signed Newsome as an undrafted free agent following the 2018 NFL Draft. He played in the first three games of 2018 and recorded a single rushing attempt. His skill-set is a similar to Ekeler, but would likely need an injury to see the field.
Recently, Gordon has said that he would like to remain a Charger. Ownership has been silent on whether or not they want to invest big money into the running back position. All signs point to Gordon remaining A Charger. However, should he reach the open market, Gordon would be heavily sought after. Keep an eye on the situation. If you are drafting in the coming weeks, make sure to stash Austin Ekeler on your bench, just in case.