Dissecting the Fantasy Football Impact of Melvin Gordon's Injury - Roto Street Journal
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Dissecting the Fantasy Football Impact of Melvin Gordon’s Injury

The first major, major injury of the fantasy season happened at one of the most inopportune times, when Fantasy MVP nominee, Melvin Gordon, sprained his MCL. Not only did Gordon enter the game with both a knee and hamstring injuries, but they still had their electric playmaker running a trick-play with a 28-10 lead in the third quarter against the hapless Cardinals. Although Ian Rapoport estimated that Gordon, “should be back before the end of the regular season if all goes well,” that likely means that his fantastic fantasy season has come to an end before he could lead his owners to the promised land.

In the 10 games that Gordon has played in this season, it was by far his most consistent and dominant fantasy season that he’s had during his early career. Out of those 10 games, the former Badger put up at least 16 points in each game — highlighted by three 30 point affairs. He had 802 rushing yards, 44 receptions and 13 total touchdowns during those 10 games. It’s safe to say he’ll be missed.

So, what are you going to do if you lost Gordon? Well, let’s hope you had Austin Ekeler handcuffed to him, as he’s one of fantasy’s premier handcuffs. Even with Gordon in the lineup, Ekeler has had some decent standalone value as a backup, where he’s put up six double-digit games — including two 20 point games. Ekeler surprisingly struggled in his lone start of the season, only putting up 11 fantasy points against the Titans.

However, Ekeler is graded extremely high by Pro Football Focus. Out of running backs who have had at least 200 snaps, Ekeler is ranked first at his position in overall grade (89.5) and receiving grade (90.7). He’s an excellent receiver out of the backfield and finds ways to create yardage at an extremely high rate. Even though he’s on the smaller side, Ekeler ranks tied for second in forced missed tackles per touch (0.25) and second in yards after contact per touch (4.01) (among the 44 NFL running backs with 100-plus touches on the year). It’s clear that the second-year back will be a must-start FLEX fantasy option going forward, and is not a terrible Gordon replacement by any means. Obviously it sucks to lose your horse, but Ekeler has the skill-set to be a dynamic option.

Outside of Ekeler, there’s rookie Justin Jackson, who rewrote the record books at Northwestern. During his four years in Evanston, Jackson was the definition of a workhorse, touching the ball 1,264 times. With those touches, he totaled 5,440 yards and 41 touchdowns on the ground, and 858 receiving yards on 122 receptions.

When Gordon exited the game last week, Jackson showed his big play ability by racking up 57 yards on just seven carries. He’s not a must-start this week, but he’s a very good stash option to wait and see how they’re going to utilize the former Wildcat workhorse. Jackson is currently still available in 82-percent of leagues and should be added if you have extra bench space.

The Chargers have a tough matchup against the Steelers (24th vs RBs), but get the Bengals (2nd) and Chiefs (1st), before a rugged matchup against the Ravens (31st) in the fantasy finale.

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