Breaking Down The Broncos Backfield: Is Melvin Gordon The New Leader? Don’t Be So Fast…

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Of all the possible landing spots for a running back, would the Denver Broncos have been an obvious destination?  With Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman in place that didn’t appear to be the case…  So of course we learned Friday that Melvin Gordon had agreed to a deal with the Broncos for two years and $16 million. Now fantasy owners are left wondering how the backfield mix will be left to play out…  Let’s take a look:

Melvin Gordon

Gordon is the most accomplished running back of the trio, though he’s coming off a rather underwhelming year in 12 games:

162 carries, 612 yards, 8 TD

While part of his struggles could be attributed to his hold out and subsequent late start to the season, his track record isn’t all that impressive.  Outside of 2018, when he averaged 5.1 YPC, he’s never had a year with better than a 3.9 YPC (and owns a career 4.0 mark).  That’s not to say that there aren’t valuable skills:

  • He has a nose for the end zone, scoring 47 total TD (36 rushing, 11 receiving) over his five year career
  • His ability to catch the football, with 41+ receptions over the past four seasons (including two years with 50+)

That skillset should play, and you know he wasn’t imported to sit on the sidelines.  He also should be motivated to prove his ability, especially with a pair of matchups against the Chargers on the schedule.  Of course he could ultimately play second fiddle to the “true” leader of the Broncos backfield…

Phillip Lindsay

You can argue that Lindsay is actually the best runner of the trio, as he has put up back-to-back 1,000+ yard seasons to start his career:

  • 2018 – 192 carries, 1,037 yards (5.4 YPC), 9 TD
  • 2019 – 224 carries, 1,011 yards (4.5 YPC), 7 TD

Even with the regression he was more productive per carry, and he also has 35 receptions in each of his first two seasons.  Lindsay had to earn his opportunities, after everyone assumed that Royce Freeman would be the leader of the Denver backfield after both had been drafted.  He’s proven up for the task, and while the addition of Gordon could keep him more in the 190-200 carry range that he was given in 2018 it will also help to keep him healthy and among the better backfields in the league. At this point he appears to be the better option with the highest upside.

Royce Freeman

The addition of Gordon is a clear loss for Freeman, who has struggled since being selected in the third round of the 2018 draft:

  • 2018 – 130 carries, 521 yards (4.0 YPC), 5 TD
  • 2019 – 132 carries, 496 yards (3.8 YPC), 3 TD

You could argue that he’s a similar player to Gordon, but the team didn’t sign Gordon to watch Freeman get the touches.  It’s hard to envision this being a three-man committee, meaning Freeman is likely to be relegated to a tertiary role or be cut loose altogether.

Make sure to check out all of our 2020 Fantasy Baseball preseason rankings:

PositionLast Updated
Catchers02/10/20
First Basemen02/13/20
Second Basemen02/18/20
Third Basemen02/21/20
Shortstops02/24/20
Outfielders03/06/20
Starting Pitchers03/09/20
Relief Pitchers03/03/20

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