Fantasy Players - Rookie Watch 2015
Rookie Watch – Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers
Melvin Gordon may not have been the highest back picked in the 2015 NFL Draft (Todd Gurley) but the No. 15 overall selection brings more excitement than any rookie fantasy back has in some time. He landed in a city badly in need of rushing support; boasts an NFL-ready frame; and is arguably the most impressive prospect to come from a school known for churning out pro backs (Wisconsin).
Gordon’s 2014 collegiate season was the most impressive by a back since Barry Sanders rolled up 2,628 yards for Oklahoma State in 1988. Gordon has received kudos from NFL scouts for his vision, toughness and open-field speed.
Dissecting the depth chart: Second-year Branden Oliver averaged 3.6 yards per carry in 2014 and will give Gordon the most trouble among the backs on this roster. Oliver had back-to-back 100-yard games in October before stumbling to the finish line. Danny Woodhead is returning from a broken fibula. Assuming he’s back to full health he can still be a good utility back, and someone that will cut into Gordon’s three-down reps; Woodhead will also remove any pressure placed on Gordon to overachieve as a receiver – something he did very little of at Wisconsin. Next to Oliver no one carried the ball more than Donald Brown last season, but he averaged just 2.6 yards per carry.
Just the stats: Gordon had monster numbers in crowded Badger backfields. As a sophomore he averaged 10.0 yards per carry and gained 621 yards, but took a back seat to Montee Ball (1,830) and James White (806). In 2013, Gordon led the team with 1,609 yards but basically split time with White (1,444). Last year, with the offense finally his own, Gordon gained 2,587 yards and rushed for 29 scores. He gained more than 200 yards in six contests last season, including 408 yards against Nebraska. In the 2012 Big Ten Title Game against Nebraska, Gordon gained 216 yards… on just nine carries.
2015 Projection: 260 carries, 1,222 yards, 6 TDs, 14 receptions, 102 yards, 1 TD
2014 rookie comparison: None
This year could produce a 1,300-yard season for Gordon – a number which would have placed him among the top five in the NFL last season. Sounds too much, right? Perhaps, but Gordon has rare potential that few rookie backs have been afforded in the past decade. Not since Adrian Peterson in 2007 has a rookie back had such high expectations.
Interesting fact that won’t help you: Gordon was high school teammates with fellow 2015 first round pick Trae Waynes ay Kenosha-Bradford.
What he’s worth: Gordon is a prime No. 2 fantasy back. His catch numbers will sting fantasy owners, but he’s capable of turning any play into a long-gainer and should see plenty of carries in this offense.
Follow Mike Beacom on Twitter @mikebeacom