Le'Veon 2.0? Melvin Gordon Demanding Raise or Trade, Fantasy Risk Rises - Roto Street Journal
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Le’Veon 2.0? Melvin Gordon Demanding Raise or Trade, Fantasy Risk Rises

Holy Holdout! Unless he receives a new contract, Melvin Gordon will not report to Training Camp and will demand a trade, via his agent (hilariously named “Damarius Bilbo”). Gordon, previously fifth overall on my Big Board, is a fantasy game-changer. His absence would send shockwaves through fantasy first rounds, and create an enormous opportunity for Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. With enormous added risk, Gordon falls to the tail-end of Round 2… for now. Meanwhile, Ekeler and Jackson vault up into Round 7 and 9 respectively in case either do inherit this invaluable gig.

Why Pay Gordon

Make no mistake: Gordon is elite. He’s finished as the RB7, RB5, and RB8 in fantasy over the past three years, and ranks second in touches and third in scrimmage yards and TDs over that span. As a runner, Gordon is a slippery, tackle-breaking beast even in congested situations; he earned PFF’s only 80+ grade when rushing against 8+ men in the box with a 23.4% missed tackle rate. Plus, he’s a monster at the stripe and an excellent pass-catcher, racking up 12+ TDs and 400+ receiving yards in three straight years. In short, Gordon’s an every-down monster in the perfect situation, hence his previous Top-Five ranking. A potential absence is near-equal to Le’Veon Bell last year.

Why Wait

Yet, just like Bell, much of Gordon’s fantasy appeal is in the surroundings. Manned by the ever-reliable Philip Rivers, the Chargers offense perennially ranks Top-10. Just last year, the team ranked 6th in points and 11th in yardage, and went 4-0 in games Gordon missed.

Just like Pittsburgh, HC Anthony Lynn‘s attack funnels through the backfield. Though the Chargers’ line can’t sniff the Steelers, both Ekeler and Jackson would offer “2019 James Conner” upside in this situation, and could similarly become fantasy monsters. Both need to rise to Round 8-10 territory for immediate drafts, and the new lead would be a 4th-5th rounder (at least) if Gordon was absent for the 2019 kickoff.

Will He Holdout?

So is a holdout likely?

On one hand, when asked if he supported  Bell sitting out last year, Gordon commented: “Yes, sir,” Melvin said. “And I would too. Come back and get hurt—why? Gave up everything he had for five, six years, and y’all can’t pay the man?”

Moreover, Gordon is reportedly “dug in and discouraged with the lack of progress in the talks.” Though the team went 4-0 in his absence, and Conner just thrived in Bell’s absence, Gordon feels strongly that “you can’t just replace a great back” while even calling RB “the hardest position outside of QB” because of the varied responsibilities of a genuine three-down horse.

On the other, Gordon stands to make $5.6 million on a fifth year option. The team has leverage in that they went 4-0 without him last year. He has openly admitted his preference to remain, saying “I want to end up with the Chargers,” Gordon said Saturday. “That’s my home… that’s the team that blessed me with an opportunity. They started my life. They changed my life. Out of all 32 teams, that was the team that called me. I can’t forget them for that.”

Yet, in the same breath he also recognized, “it’s an opportunity right now where I know I need to take advantage of it. You know, I want to get paid.”

Reading these tea leaves, I’d predict Gordon will holdout sans a new deal.

What now?

Ultimately, if traded, Gordon would be near-guaranteed to lose value. The Bucs would present the best-case scenario: a gaping backfield need, Top-10 offense, and HC with a workhorse history in Bruce Arians. 

Still, owners should hope for a resolution, or at least clarity, in what immediately becomes a Top-Five Training Camp Story. Gordon’s absence would remove one of the few true invaluable “workhorses-in-elite-offenses,” and create a Conner-level of opportunity for both Ekeler and Jackson.

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