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Sleeper And Bust Of The Week: Ameer Abdullah And Melvin Gordon

Jake Ciely Senior Writer July 7, 2015 9:05AM EDT
It’s time for Round 2 of Fantasy Football Sleeper and Bust of the Week. This time, we’re heading to the running back position and talking about two rookies. In general, rookies are often overrated, and we’ll see that happen heavily with wide receivers this year. With the running back rookies however, many are underrated, as we could be looking at a 2014 rookie receiver type of impact at running back. You can get the full breakdown of every Fantasy Football rookie and their 2015 outlook in my draft kit piece, but for today, we’ll talk about Ameer Abdullah and Melvin Gordon.

Sleeper: Ameer Abdullah, DET

Abdullah is sitting with a ninth-round ADP (12-team leagues), which is absurdly low. Darren McFadden is going two full rounds before Abdullah. Sure, if DMC plays 16 games and gets 20 touches a game, he’ll be pushing RB1 value, but does anyone believe that will happen? Didn’t think so.

(Update Aug. 17: look at you smarty pants folks… Abdullah is up to the mid-seventh round and should keep climbing, while DMC is down into Round 9).

Why is Abdullah this low? There are a couple of reasons, but none that should worry you much. Abdullah is a rookie, and unlike with receivers, owners are a bit more hesitant with running backs due to the yearly attrition no matter the level of experience. Specifically for the Lions, Joique Bell finished as RB14 (Yahoo! scoring) with 223 carries and he’ll remain the early-down option. Lastly, Theo Riddick showed some promise in the passing game while Reggie Bush was hurt. I’m telling you to toss all of those concerns aside.

Abdullah is a very talented running back. He has a muscular, compact build giving him surprising power for his size. Most people see his excellent quickness and balance, thereby overlooking the power Abdullah brings. He also gets to the hole quick with great lateral quickness.

If anything, Abdullah destroys Riddick’s value, as Abdullah should be the perfect replacement for Bush. In 2013 when Bell was healthier (he’s dealing with Achilles’ and knee issues… and Achilles’ injuries are no joke!), Bush actually led the team with 223 carries, finishing with 1,512 total yards and as RB11. Bell checked in at RB17 with a respectable 166 carries and 1,197 yards. While most expect the carries to be reversed, Abdullah still has RB2 upside, as both Lions running backs had over 50 catches and 500 yards that year. If Bell struggles with his health, Abdullah’s floor could check in the RB2 range as well. Jump on Abdullah a round or two early to make sure you get him. Don’t worry; the value is still there, as he warrants a Round 4-5 ADP.

Bust: Melvin Gordon, SD

Do I think Gordon will be a bust? Not at all. In fact, Gordon is my second ranked rookie running back. Confused? By now, you should be used to it with me.

Gordon is set for bust value given his ADP. Gordon has an ADP of RB15, which is simply too high. That’s ahead of Lamar Miller (or tied on sites), Carlos Hyde, Latavius Murray, Jonathan Stewart, etc. It’s possible that Gordon finishes ahead of those players and even nears RB1 status. But that’s a tall order, especially for a rookie that will see little work on passing downs.

Gordon does have excellent vision, quickness and acceleration, and his pass protection skills are better than most think. However, he can struggle to create his own holes, and his pass catching skills need work. When you add in Danny Woodhead, Gordon would need to improve so dramatically that… ah, forget it; he’s not surpassing Woodhead in the passing game. And don’t forget good ol’ Danny Boy when drafting. He finished as RB19 (RB12 in PPR) just two years ago. If the Chargers are playing catch-up or in garbage time, Woodhead is going to be on the field much more than Gordon.

Again, this isn’t about Gordon not being good. I have him at 234 carries, 1,031 yards and six touchdowns as of today. That puts him in mid-RB2 territory though (RB17 for me). You can argue that’s even a bit aggressive, but it’s not as aggressive as RB14, which negates almost any potential return value. Now, you’ve bought into Gordon’s ceiling and all of his risk. If you get him around RB17-18 at least you have room for Gordon to return greater value, and that’s why he’s a bust at RB14.

Photo h/t Topps

 

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