Melvin Gordon’s fantasy football value took a major jump this week with the news that fellow Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams would miss the rest of the season. With the Broncos taking on the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday Night Football in Week 5, is Gordon a player that fantasy managers can rely on this week?
Melvin Gordon III’s Fantasy Outlook for Week 5
The injury to Williams has completely opened up the Broncos’ backfield.
Through four weeks, Williams had 47 rushing attempts and 22 targets, at an average of 17.25 opportunities per game. Meanwhile, Gordon had seen 37 rushing attempts and 10 targets, for an average of just under 12 opportunities per game. However, in Week 4, we saw the balance appear to shift from a timeshare to Williams dominating touches.
When he left the game in Week 4, Williams had 10 rushing attempts and a single target to just one rushing attempt for Gordon. Part of that could have been a coach’s decision, with Gordon having fumbled three times in the first three weeks — he fumbled again on his first carry in Week 4 — or due to Gordon managing a neck injury in practice over the previous week.
Further complicating matters was that when Williams left the game, Gordon split touches with third-string RB Mike Boone. Boone actually ended up playing more snaps and seeing more opportunities than Gordon in Week 4.
However, after Williams was ruled out for the season, the Broncos coaching staff spoke highly of Gordon. Offensive coordinator Justin Outten told reporters that Gordon would “carry the load obviously.” He went on to say that Boone would mix in but that the team trusts Gordon going forward.
Therefore, all signs would point towards Gordon getting the first shot to lead the team in opportunities at the RB position this week. That was further reinforced when he was once again cleared from the injury report heading into this week’s game.
Should Fantasy Managers Start Gordon in Week 5?
The Colts make for an intriguing matchup for Gordon and the Broncos’ RBs this week. They rank in the middle of the pack in terms of fantasy points allowed to the RB position, with 19.2 per game so far.
However, those fantasy points have come in a spread of ways. In two of the four games, they have allowed over 20 fantasy points to the position, including against Derrick Henry in Week 4. In the other two games, they have allowed fewer than 15.5 fantasy points to the position.
The positive aspect is that there have been double-digit points scored by the RB position when facing the Colts in each of the first four weeks. Therefore, there might be value to be found in the position this week.
Additionally, the Colts have allowed the fourth-highest target share to the RB position this season at 25.2 percent. Denver has targeted the RB position on 31.7 percent of their throws this year. That should present an opportunity for Gordon to find some success if he can assume some of that role from Williams.
The way we saw Gordon utilized last week, plus the addition of Latavius Murray this week, has created a level of concern for fantasy managers. However, Gordon currently sits as a low-end RB2 in our Week 5 RB fantasy rankings. Therefore, unless you are loaded at the position, he is likely a player you are considering starting in 12-team leagues this week.
Whenever a back has the potential to see 10-15 touches a game, he immediately becomes at least a potential flex option in 12-team leagues. Yes, we may see the arrival of Murray eat into Gordon’s workload in future weeks.
But on a short week, Murray may not see many snaps against the Colts. Therefore, this might be an opportunity to start Gordon and then sell him high if he has a strong performance in Week 5.