After a horrible, no good, very bad rookie year that had people already labeling him as a bust and wondering if the San Diego Chargers had wasted a first round pick, Melvin Gordon came out of the gates like napalm in 2016.
Third-down back Danny Woodhead was lost for the year due to injury early in the season, and then Gordon took off even more. He went from a guy who was basically unstartable in any fantasy league to a guy who was a set-and-forget RB1. He scored zero touchdowns in his rookie campaign, then led the league several times in his second season.
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He made his way to 997 yards rushing, likely one play away from breaking the 1000-yard mark. And then Philip Rivers fumbled.
Melvin Gordon tried to jump on and recover Rivers’ fumble, but he got hit awkwardly from behind and ended up having to be carted off the field. There was much concern for Gordon, as his teammates and members of the opposing Carolina Panthers came to check on him and give him support as he was leaving the field. Fans and coaches feared the worst, and these thoughts were not at all assuaged when Gordon was declared out for the game soon after leaving it in the first place. “His season is over” was a common belief. “His career could be in jeopardy” didn’t seem too far-fetched either.
Then the good news came out. Melvin Gordon wants to play again this season. He wants those three yards and he wants to be there for his teammates. The Chargers seemingly have an entire extra football team on Injured Reserve already this season, and stunningly little depth at the running back position.
Before the season, Branden Oliver was lost for the year. Early in the season, Danny Woodhead was lost for the year. Dexter McCluster was signed to take on a reduced Woodhead-like role. He did. But then he was lost for the year too. The Chargers are left with undrafted rookie Kenneth Farrow and unwanted veteran Ronnie Hillman.
Gordon is not expected to be able to play in Week 15 against the Oakland Raiders, but he seems to be targeting a Week 16 return to the field. He’ll likely still be limited, but if it ends up being a pain tolerance issue, it’s hard not to see hopefully-on-his-way-out head coach Mike McCoy give his second year running back a chance to reach 1000 yards. For fantasy purposes, Melvin Gordon’s season is done.
For confidence purposes and 2017 outlook though? There are three very important weeks left.