Poor Melvin Gordon.
Over the past two years, Gordon has finished a top 10 fantasy running back, yet every time he’s sitting there for me to take at the backend of the first round in fantasy drafts, I feel gross about taking him. I feel like he’s not flashy enough or he’s not going to be as productive as his draft slot might imply. Yet, he’s proven to be one of the better fantasy running backs, thanks in large part to opportunity (in a league filled with committees in the backfield, Gordon doesn’t have a lot of competition in LA).
This got me thinking—a dangerous past time I know—what other fantasy players are very productive but for whatever reason when you’re on the clock and their name is on the board, you just aren’t excited about taking them?
So with that, I’ve listed a player from each position who I think suffers from the Melvin Gordon syndrome. These are all guys who I wouldn’t feel thrilled with drafting at their ADP, yet year in and year out show that they can produce at levels that exceed their draft value.
It goes without saying that Melvin Gordon headlines this list. He was RB5 last year in standard leagues. If you had told me that before I did research for this article, I would have laughed at you. But it’s true. Never doubt Gordon.
QB Matthew Stafford
Here’s exactly how I’d feel coming out of a draft with Stafford as my starting quarterback:
In a word: Eh.
Yet Stafford as a fantasy player is far from “eh”. In fact, he’s pretty damn good.
Since 2011, he’s only not been a top 10 quarterback twice, back in 2012 and 2014. The last three years he’s finished ninth, seventh and sixth last year. Sure Stafford has never been a top 5 fantasy quarterback but for a guy you can routinely draft in the tenth round or later, a top 10 quarterback is good enough for me.
Stafford’s fantasy production shouldn’t really come as a surprise as he’s been remarkably healthy throughout his career and the Lions haven’t had a legit run game since Barry Sanders retired. It only makes sense that a guy who’s averaging almost 550 pass attempts a season would be a good fantasy quarterback.
All I can say is I’ll no longer scoff at Stafford if I’m in need of a signal caller in the 12th round.
RB Lamar Miller
On this week’s podcast we talked about position groups that could make the fantasy leap or could take a step back. Clark brought up his Houston Texans saying their backfield could take a step into fantasy relevance this season with a much improved offensive line. I brilliantly made some snide comment about how maybe we’ll finally see Lamar Miller be a fantasy contributor.
Well snarky Pete, prepare to be embarrassed. Kind of. You were about 50% right with your snide comment.
While his two years with the Texans haven’t been blown the doors off, they also haven’t been terrible. Miller was RB14 last year and RB18 his first year with Houston. Obviously that’s not the kind of production you’d want out of your top running back, but I’d happily take that level of production at my RB2 slot. Hell, he out performed Christian McCaffrey and Alex Collins last year, both of whom are being drafted ahead of Miller this year.
If you want to go back to his Miami days, Miller was RB6 in 2015 and RB9 in 2014. I totally forgot there was a time when Lamar Miller was a fantasy commodity that produced top 10 numbers.
WR Doug Baldwin
Baldwin perfectly falls under the Melvin Gordon syndrome. His ADP is currently top of the third round, going with the likes of Tyreek Hill, T.Y. Hilton, Amari Cooper and Adam Thielen. Of those names, Baldwin is probably the least sexy but likely the best pick. Hill is going to be playing with a rookie quarterback this year; we still have no idea if Andrew Luck is good to go; Cooper seems to have caught whatever touchdown allergy Julio Jones had, and Thielen might have just been a one hit wonder.
Baldwin meanwhile has been consistently productive the last three years. He was WR7 in 2015, WR10 in 2016 and WR13 this past year. While his numbers tell a story of decline, personally I think that has more to do with the struggles of the Seahawks’ offense than Baldwin himself falling out of elite fantasy production.
Plus, fantasy football is all about usage and the Seahawks currently have no one at receiver outside of Baldwin on their roster. He’s averaging 115 targets over the past three years and you can bet that number will only increase with Russell Wilson seriously lacking any other pass catchers to throw to.
TE Delanie Walker
If Baldwin perfectly falls under the Melvin Gordon syndrome, then Delanie Walker is the literal embodiment of the Melvin Gordon syndrome.
For the last five years, Walker has been one of the top fantasy tight ends in the game. Only in 2013 did he fall out of the top 10, while he was a top 5 tight end in 2015 and 2016. He’s consistently been Marcus Mariota’s favorite target, averaging 115 targets and 78 catches since Mariota entered the league.
Walker will never be the flashiest nor sexiest tight end and will likely never sniff the number one spot (Gronk has all those categories locked down for the foreseeable future), but he still brings consistent and reliable production, something you can’t overlook if you’re late in the draft with a need at tight end.
Which player have you unfairly ignored in fantasy drafts in the past?
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