It was always going to be a frustrating start to the fantasy football season for anyone drafting Melvin Gordon following the Denver Broncos’ investment in a high-level running back during the 2021 NFL Draft. While Gordon has been the more productive back so far, his presence on the injury report has raised questions over whether you should start or sit him in Week 4. Let’s take a look at the situation.
Update (10/03/21): Melvin Gordon is active for the Broncos Week 4 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens
Melvin Gordon has been a solid fantasy producer so far in 2021
If you asked someone who drafted Gordon in fantasy leagues about their worst nightmare, it would likely have been a virtually equal touch share between Gordon and Javonte Williams. That is almost exactly what has materialized through three weeks. Gordon has 42 carries and 6 receptions to Williams’ 39 carries and 5 receptions.
However, the output has not been an equal split, with the veteran outperforming the rookie in the box score and in fantasy. Gordon has 192 yards on those 42 rushing attempts with 76 yards on his 6 receptions. In contrast, Williams has 138 rushing yards on his 39 carries and 39 yards through the air.
That has led to Gordon to an RB16 ranking in fantasy points per game through three weeks, while Williams sits at RB41. Gordon has seen at least 14 touches per game this season and has scored 14+ fantasy points in two out of three games.
If you dig deeper, the difference is not as clear-cut. Gordon’s longest run this season is 70 yards, which has significantly boosted his numbers. If that were just a 10-yard carry, then he would have 132 rushing yards on 42 carries instead of 192. Additionally, his receiving numbers are boosted by a 30-yard reception.
A matchup with the Ravens looks like a friendly one for the Broncos’ RBs
Fantasy managers of Gordon should be looking at this matchup and rubbing their hands together. The Ravens allow the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing RBs in 2021. Baltimore has allowed a total of 375 yards and 5 touchdowns to running backs this year.
Interestingly, the 5 touchdowns have all come on the ground, but most of the yards (197) have come in the receiving game. Gordon is more than proficient in catching the ball out of the backfield, and opposing backs have caught 21 of their 22 targets against the Ravens in 2021.
Can you risk Gordon as a starter in your Week 4 fantasy lineup?
This game being a late afternoon kickoff adds to the headaches for fantasy managers of Gordon and Williams. Unless you have another option on your roster playing in one of the final six games of the week, you could be at risk of leaving yourself with limited options by choosing one of Denver’s RBs to start.
We have already seen that Gordon has been the most productive from a fantasy perspective this season. However, that has primarily been driven by touchdowns and breakaway plays. Both of those are hard to predict week to week.
Even if Gordon is active as expected, we do not know how much he will be on the field. With a more than competent reserve back in Williams, the Broncos may only use Gordon on a limited basis. With a long season and neither back really distinguishing themselves, it would be odd to give Gordon a heavy workload.
The lean here is towards going into Week 4 without Gordon in your fantasy lineups. There is simply too much at risk. He could suffer a setback in warm-ups and be inactive. Williams might see the majority of touches to protect Gordon for the long season ahead. Naturally, your fantasy roster composition plays a big part in the decision, but Gordon appears to be a big risk in Week 4.