Chargers running backs
With Melvin Gordon’s contract dispute continuing on with no end in sight, the Chargers running backs ADP’s are very volatile at the moment.
Quite surprisingly, Gordon’s ADP has only dropped one spot, from five to six. However, he is a much riskier pick now and drafters are going for safer alternatives like David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell. If Gordon’s issue is resolved, he is a lock in the top five of every draft. While he carries some injury risk, when on the field Gordon is a touchdown machine with one of the safest floors out of all NFL players.
If by the time a your team drafts his holdout is resolved, don’t be afraid to pick him in the top five. If he somehow falls beyond that, don’t hesitate to take him. However, if by draft time his situation is still uncertain, it may be more beneficial to take other high-end running backs like Johnson and Bell.
Ekeler is currently going 113th overall in fantasy drafts. In a 12-team league, that puts him in the 10th round, and the 45th running back. Even with Gordon on the field, Ekeler has value, especially in PPR leagues (point per reception), as he has always made the most out of his limited touches. However, his upside is very limited in fantasy formats, and can only be a depth piece on a team to flex in case of bye weeks or injuries to other players.
However, if Gordon’s holdout does extend into the regular season, Ekeler’s value takes a huge jump. There is uncertainty as to what would happen in a Gordon-less backfield. It can be Ekeler or Justin Jackson who takes the starting job, or a timeshare between the two.
Drafting Ekeler in the 10th round is a good idea, as he has massive upside in case Gordon sits out the regular season. People who last year took a shot with James Conner during Bell’s holdout in Pittsburgh were massively rewarded, as Conner finished the year as the 7th highest scoring running back, 0.5 fantasy points behind Melvin Gordon, coincidentally. While a top 10 finish from Ekeler is unlikely, a top 20 finish is not far-fetched.
For a player that last year finished as the 27th highest scoring running back, Ekeler going as the 45th running back is an absolute steal, especially with the upside he has regarding the Gordon situation. Don’t be afraid to reach for him one or two rounds earlier than that.
Jackson is in a similar situation to Ekeler, but the difference is he doesn’t have much value when Gordon is healthy and playing. Unlike Ekeler, Jackson doesn’t have a regular role in the offense to warrant a fantasy start.
That could change this season if the coaching staff tries to limit Gordon’s touches to limit tear and wear and save him for a championship run.
The most enticing part about Jackson’s fantasy value is where a team can draft him. He has an ADP of 217 (68th running back), putting him in undrafted territory, unless a 12-team league has a 19-round draft.
Since late-round picks are mostly dart throws, it is not a bad idea to draft Jackson with one of the last picks. If Gordon starts, then he can be let go on the waiver wire. If Gordon doesn’t take the field, Jackson is immediately more valuable, and could even serve as the lead back to keep Ekeler in his more creative and explosive role. Should he earn the starting job outright from Ekeler, Jackson would be the draft bargain of the year, as he can have league-winning upside.