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Broncos fantasy football outlook 2020: Running back Melvin Gordon

(Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Broncos have made moves after moves this offseason to add weapons to the offense. This has made Broncos Country incredibly excited about what this offense could be in 2020. Fans of the Broncos had to sit through a poor offense last year that scored just 17 points a game. This year, the Broncos could score around 24 points per game – a difference of a touchdown per game from the previous season.

Only 12 teams in the NFL scored 24 or more points in 2019. For the Broncos to make that jump into the 24-PPG club, these new pieces on offense will have to play at a high level. This would be good news for Broncos fans, but it would also be good news for fantasy football GMs.

With fantasy football drafts going on right now, (yes, this early) it’s interesting to note how the fantasy community is looking at the 2020 Broncos. In this series, we’ll look at the current ADP (average draft position) in 12-team PPR leagues for the Broncos offensive players at Footballguys.com. For those of you that don’t know, I have worked for Footballguys.com since 2005 and it’s where you can find all my fantasy football opinions.

Today, we look at Broncos running back Melvin Gordon. Where is he going in drafts, and what is the reasoning behind his ADP?

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Melvin Gordon | RB17 | 3.07

Fantasy GMs are a bit lukewarm on Gordon’s outlook for the 2020 season. As a low-end RB2, that means Gordon is unlikely to be an every-week starter if he performs as expected. Gordon could see action as a flex play on a regular basis and that might be what Fantasy GMs in PPR leagues decide is best with him.

He’s currently coming off the board as the No. 17 fantasy running back in the third round (seventh pick) in 12-team PPR leagues. That’s a low spot based on the potential of Gordon in the Broncos new-look and potentially high-powered offense.

So, why is his ranking so low? Fantasy GMs might be concerned if Gordon can stay healthy as injuries have slowed him down a bit during his pro career. People also wonder how much Phillip Lindsay will cut into Gordon’s playing time and touches this season.

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Last Year’s Comparison

Looking at the 2019 season, Marlon Mack from the Colts was the No. 17 fantasy running back. Last year as the Colts leading rusher, Mack ran 247 times for 1,091 yards with eight rushing touchdowns. Mack was sparingly used as a receiver out of the backfield and snared only 14 passes for 82 yards.

Projecting Gordon for around 1,100 yards rushing seems correct given his role as the lead back in a Pat Shurmur offense. However, Gordon is a much better receiver than Mack and should catch way more than 14 passes. In fact, projecting him for 40 to 55 receptions in 2020 is not outlandish whatsoever. Putting those numbers together (and keeping the touchdowns around the same as Mack), it’s easy to see how Gordon can outproduce his current ADP.

In 2019, Shurmur’s lead back when he was head coach of the Giants was Saquon Barkley. He burst onto the scene with a monster rookie season in 2018, but Barkley was banged up and not as productive in 2019. Even with Barkley missing three games, he still rushed for 1,003 yards and six rushing touchdowns. Barkley also grabbed 52 passes for 438 yards and two receiving touchdowns. These totals were good enough for the no.10 fantasy running back spot.

Gordon may not be quite as talented as Barkley, but he’s as good if not better than the banged-up Barkley we saw last year.

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Overvalued or Undervalued?

Looking at Gordon’s past performance and what the lead back does in a Shurmur offense, the veteran back should be able to easily outperform his current draft status. This is assuming that he wins the starting job in training camp.
The Broncos made Gordon the sixth-highest paid running back in the league on an average annual basis when they paid him a two-year contract that gives him $8 million per year. The language of the NFL is money, and the Broncos spoke loud and clear with such a large salary for the veteran back.

Lindsay is going to put up a fight for the starting job. He’s coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and is not going to lay down and just let Gordon have the job. Gordon should win the job, but it remains to be seen what kind of running-back-by-committee the team implements in 2020.

In years past, Shurmur’s offense only features one running back. There is one clear exception, the 2017 Vikings (when Shurmur was the OC), where the veteran coach used two running backs (Latavius Murray, Jerrick McKinnon). This duo is much better than what the Vikings had, so Shurmur might craft an even more productive rushing offense with Gordon leading the way this season.

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