This year, like every other year, the NFL is about to receive an influx young, talented players that will have an immediate impact in the realm of fantasy football. However, if history has taught us anything it is that some of these rookies will shine (Odell Beckham Jr, Jeremy Hill, Mike Evans) and some of them will fade (Eric Ebron, Johnny Manziel, Bishop Sankey). The question is, which rookies are worth investing in, in 2015? One of these rookies worth investing in is the NCAA's leading rusher in 2014... Melvin Gordon. In his Junior season Gordon rushed 343 times for an incredible 2,587 yds and 29 TDs, leaving him with an amazing 7.5 YPC average. While of course these numbers will drop in the NFL, Gordon has proven that he has what it takes to compete at an elite level and will undoubtedly produce in the NFL, and more importantly, produce for your fantasy lineup. Talent aside, the most important factor in deciding when to draft the young RB (or any rookie) is what team he falls to. In this article we will examine not only Gordon's skill set, but also which teams he will see the most success with come 2015.
Gordon and the Boys
Entering the 2015 season, there are a handful of teams that are in need of a strong presence at the RB position, one of the most notable teams is none other than 'America's team,' the Dallas Cowboys. In 2014, the Cowboys offensive line asserted itself as one of (if not the most) dominant O-lines in the NFL. Behind that line, DeMarco Murray was able to rack up 1,845 yards and 13 TDs. Measuring in at 6'0" and 213 lbs at the NFL combine, Demarco Murray's measurables are eerily similar to Gordon's. Add that with a zone-blocking scheme that Gordon has become accustomed to during his time in Wisconsin, we could see an incredible rookie season for the former Badger. In Dallas, Gordon's major competition would be the recently signed Darren McFadden and the former 5th-round pick, Joseph Randle. However, given his injury history, it's hard to believe that the Boys would put all of their eggs in McFadden's basket. It's also hard to believe that Dallas would put their faith in Randle who has amassed only 105 carries in two seasons.
Lightning in a Bottle
Another team in need of a fresh start at running back is the San Diego Chargers. After parting ways with veteran RB Ryan Matthews, the Chargers are an enticing option for any potential running back. Although Branden Oliver showed glimpses of greatness in 2014, by the end of the season he averaged only 3.6 YPC. If Gordon were to fall to the Chargers he would be expected to immediately take the reins as the starting RB. Couple that with the 'change of pace' trait in Danny Woodhead and Gordon would be kept 'fresh' throughout the season and able to do what he does best... run the ball. Combine that with an improved offensive line (added Orlando Franklin, among others, in free agency) and Melvin Gordon could immediately become fantasy relevant in all formats.
Completing the Triple-Crown
A third team that could use a fresh RB is the Indianapolis Colts. Even with the recent acquisition of veteran RB Frank Gore, the Colts are in desperate need of a long term solution to their running back situation. After correcting their fatal mistake by dropping Trent Richardson this off season, the Colts signed the fading star of Gore to a 3-year $12 million contract. So if Gordon were to fall to the Colts come draft day, what can we expect from him next season? The answer is... not much. Like Fred Jackson, Gore just continues to be relevant in the fantasy world. If Gordon were to join the Colts, expect Gore to receive the bull's share of the carries until Gordon proves without a doubt that he is the better option. That being said, it's clear that adding Gordon would solidify their future as a dynasty offense with the three-headed monster of Luck-Hilton-Gordon.
Conclusion: Where to draft Gordon in 2015
Standing at 6'1" 215 lbs, Gordon resembles (and plays like) a bulkier Jamaal Charles. Now of course, nobody can say that Gordon is guaranteed to see the success that Charles has seen in the NFL, but looking at the numbers, it's not impossible. During the NFL combine, Charles ran a ridiculous 4.22 40-yard dash. Although Gordon could only post a 4.52 40-yard dash (still an incredibly fast time), don't think that he doesn't have the 'big play ability' that Jamaal Charles has. In the NFL, the one thing more important than being able to outrun a tackler, is being able to cut and create space between tacklers... a skill that Gordon possesses. In the underrated 20-yard shuttle drill, Gordon posted an incredible 4.07, showing off his prowess as a back capable of changing directions on a dime. Assuming Gordon goes to a team that truly needs a running back, we can expect fantasy results that could rival that of last year's leading rookie rusher, Jeremy Hill. Projected as a first round pick in the NFL draft, expect Gordon to live up to (or even exceed) the hype. Look to target Melvin Gordon in the mid rounds of the draft and expect strong RB2 numbers with possible RB1 potential.