Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Melvin Gordon
- Los Angeles Chargers RB Melvin Gordon is in a great spot to dominate the Arizona Cardinals in Week 12.
- Colts RB has upside against the Miami Dolphins' vulnerable defensive unit.
The 2018 NFL season is still on pace for a record-breaking campaign with an average of 24.2 points per game per team. The action continues with a 10-game main slate that kicks off on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
In this positional breakdown, I’m looking at five running backs at the top of the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek) and I have constructed.
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Model Running Backs
Two backs atop the FantasyLabs Models most appeal to me this week.
- Melvin Gordon: $8,600 DraftKings; $8,900 FanDuel
- Marlon Mack: $5,500 DraftKings; $7,000 FanDuel
Melvin Gordon: Los Angeles Chargers (-13) vs. Arizona Cardinals, 44 Over/Under
UPDATE (11/25): Gordon (hamstring, knee) is officially questionable after practicing in full on Wednesday and then being downgraded to limited on Thursday and Friday. He is a legitimate game-time decision, and DFS players need to make contingency plans in case he’s ruled inactive. Running back Austin Ekeler (neck) is in. Wide receiver Tyrell Williams (quad) is questionable. Cardinals linebacker Josh Bynes (wrist, hip) is in. Linebacker Deone Bucannon (chest) and safety Rudy Ford (heel) are out. Defensive tackles Corey Peters (heel), Robert Nkemdiche (calf) and Olsen Pierre (ankle) and safety Budda Baker (knee) are questionable after limited practice sessions on Friday.
On the Wednesday edition of The Action Network NFL Podcast, we talked about Gordon as a potential “Jam ‘Em In” cash-game option for the slate.
Gordon missed the Week 7 game in London with a hamstring injury, but has put up huge numbers in spite of it. Since returning after the Week 8 bye, Gordon has racked up 20.8 FanDuel points per game on 444 yards, two touchdowns, 52 carries, 16 targets and 12 receptions in total. He’s in peak form.
On top of that, Gordon has gained a great share of the backfield workload over the past three weeks, delegating Austin Ekeler to a purely change-of-pace role. Since the bye, Ekeler’s per-game usage has been drastically reduced.
- Weeks 1-7: 76.8 yards and 0.43 touchdowns on 7.6 carries, 3.4 targets and 2.7 receptions
- Weeks 9-11: 40.7 yards and zero touchdowns on four carries, 1.3 targets and one reception
What was once a committee has recently become Gordon’s monopoly, and Ekeler (neck) could be limited or inactive this weekend with an injury.
Since his 2016 breakout season, Gordon has averaged 110.2 yards from scrimmage and 0.92 touchdowns per game. As good as some other backs have been this season, Gordon is the only FanDuel back with a 100% Consistency Rating.
From a salary-based perspective, Gordon has actually offered more value this season than any other runner: Gordon leads all backs with his +8.25 FanDuel Plus/Minus.
While Gordon is having the best season of his career, averaging 82.3 yards rushing and 49.8 yards receiving per game, he has yet to reach 20 carries in any start. In 2016-17, Gordon averaged a robust 18.6 carries per game. This season, though, he has dropped to 15.9.
Nevertheless, his career-high 6.4 targets and 4.7 receptions per game minimize the impact of his rushing shortfall and make him a strong option in most game scripts.
There’s a chance Gordon could lose significant carries to Ekeler if the Chargers establish a large lead early in the game. They have displayed a willingness not to overwork their lead back, but Gordon is still likely to get his.
In the Ekeler era, only once in 24 games has Gordon had fewer than 16-plus opportunities, and this season he has either scored a touchdown or gained 150 yards from scrimmage every week. One way or another, Gordon is likely to put up points.
Marlon Mack: Indianapolis Colts (-7.5) vs. Miami Dolphins, 51 O/U
UPDATE (11/25): Center Ryan Kelly (knee) is out, as are tight ends Mo Alie Cox (calf), Erik Swoope (knee) and Ryan Hewitt (ankle), so the Colts will have to wait another week before rolling out their five-tight end set.
Since Week 4, the only opponents not to score 27-plus points against the Dolphins have been the hapless Jets, and the Colts have a slate-high implied Vegas total of 29.25 points.
On top of that, they have the week’s most advantageous matchup in situation-neutral pace. As home favorites playing indoors in late November, the Colts have the potential to put up a lot of points.
Mack has been limited by foot, ankle and hamstring injuries for chunks of the season, but since returning in Week 6, he has been the unquestioned lead back for the Colts, averaging 19.8 DraftKings points per game with a +8.97 Plus/Minus over his past five games.
Mack has had 20-plus carries just once in his career, but he’s had 14-plus opportunities in every game since Week 6, and he’s averaged 101.6 yards and one touchdown from scrimmage per game in that span.
Mack is the league’s fifth-most effective north/south runner with a 3.27 Efficiency Rating (Next Gen Stats), and the Dolphins have allowed a top-four mark of 31.0 DraftKings points per game to opposing backfields.
Positional Breakdowns & News
Be sure to read the other Week 12 positional breakdowns.
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