Melvin Gordon’s fantasy outlook and projection for 2021

Melvin Gordon finished as the RB14 in PPR formats last year, but the presence of Javonte Williams impacts his fantasy outlook and ADP in 2021.

Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon enters the final season of a two-year, $16 million contract. The trajectory of Gordon’s fantasy football outlook in 2021 was altered after the Broncos traded up to select North Carolina Javonte Williams in the second round of the NFL Draft. Is Gordon someone you should prioritize or avoid at his current ADP?

Melvin Gordon’s fantasy outlook for 2021

Denver provided their RBs an average of 27.7 opportunities (rushing attempts plus targets) per game last year. Gordon averaged 17.3 per game, exceeding 20 in four games.

From a fantasy perspective, Gordon only averaged 13.8 PPR fantasy points per contest in 2020. He had five RB1 performances, with one coming in Week 17. His 986 rushing yards were ninth-most among running backs.

Gordon excelled at making defenders miss and creating yards after contact. This was useful, considering the Broncos’ offensive line was not very good at run blocking. It is worth noting that Gordon saw light defensive fronts on a high percentage of rushing attempts. However, he wasn’t very productive as a receiver out of the backfield.

Despite running 270 routes in 2020, Gordon only finished with 32 receptions and 158 receiving yards. This season, he’ll have a committee-mate that is just as capable as he is.

Williams should not be underestimated

The Broncos have 127 unaccounted rushing attempts due to the departure of Phillip Lindsay. In an injury-riddled season, he was mostly ineffective. Now, Gordon will be competing for opportunities with Javonte Williams.

Williams should not be taken lightly. He finished his final collegiate season with 157 rushing attempts, 1,140 rushing yards, and 19 rushing touchdowns. His rushing yards were the 13th-most in North Carolina history, sixth-most in the country, and third-best in the ACC. He generated 27 rushes of 15+ yards, averaging a robust 7.3 yards per attempt. Williams also caught 25 passes for 305 yards and 3 touchdowns.

He thrived as part of an RB by committee at UNC with Michael Carter, and he can do it again in Denver with Gordon. The Broncos’ backfield will be split between Gordon and Williams. Both backs have a similar skill set that allows offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to use them interchangeably.

They will be running behind a competent offensive line led by coach Mike Munchak. Denver will have a high percentage of their starters on the offensive line returning this season. The Broncos’ foundation upfront could finally reach its potential to allow the running game and not the passing game with Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater to be the offensive focus.

At age 28, it is unlikely that Gordon will lead the Broncos’ backfield. Denver drafted Williams as his successor. Still, considering the size of his contract, Gordon will still have a role in the Broncos’ backfield. Yet, it’s possible that the NFL suspends him for his DUI incident last year.

Fantasy projection

Gordon projects for around 200 opportunities, 900 total yards, and 6 touchdowns in 2021. Williams will handle a high percentage of the Broncos’ remaining opportunities. Mike Boone would have the third-highest opportunity share behind them.

Melvin Gordon’s ADP

Gordon is typically off the board late in the sixth round when you review redraft ADP data from Fantasy Football Calculator. However, Gordon has an ADP of 90.5 in pay-to-play fantasy formats such as the National Fantasy Championship. Meanwhile, Gordon’s ADP in PPR formats on Sleeper is 73 and is 78.8 on Fleaflicker.

Should you draft Gordon in 2021?

Yes — Gordon is a low-end RB3 in PPR formats with a high floor and lower ceiling due to the presence of Williams. He is still a solid option for fantasy football, depending on how you assemble your team, but it’s important to have the proper expectations.

Eric is a Senior Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Association). You can read more of his work here and follow Eric on Twitter @EricNMoody.

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