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What to do with Melvin Gordon on Thursday Night Football

Melvin Gordon comes off his best game of the year in Week 9 to face the Raiders on Thursday Night Football.

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon carries the ball against Green Bay Packers defensive back Darnell Savage during the fourth quarter at Dignity Health Sports Park. Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Melvin Gordon hasn’t lived up to expectations while on the field this season, but last week was a step in the right direction. Against the Packers, he rushed 20 times for 80 yards and two touchdowns while catching three passes for 29 more yards. The Packers run defense isn’t good, but his usage was significant.

Since returning from his holdout, Gordon has run the ball 64 times for 192 yards and three touchdowns while catching 14-of-20 passes for 66 yards and another touchdown. His 3.0 yards per carry is not encouraging, but his usage near the goal line is, as he has seven rushing attempts inside the ten-yard line in his five games.

Fantasy football analysis: Los Angeles Chargers RB Melvin Gordon

On Thursday Night Football, Gordon gets a tougher matchup than the Packers, as the Raiders rank 13th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and the Packers rank 27th. That also bears out with Football Outsiders DVOA, which ranks the Raiders 11th in run defense. The one caveat to those numbers is that they also rank 28th in DVOA against defending running backs in the passing game.

Austin Ekeler is the receiving back, but Gordon has split targets with him evenly in three of his five games. When the Chargers trail, Ekeler’s targets get a big boost, but usually, it’s a relatively even split. Work in the passing game and consistent touches near the end zone make up for three-yards per carry most of the time.

Traditional Fantasy Start/Sit Recommendation

Start.

DraftKings DFS Recommendation

Gordon costs $7,200 in the TNF Showdown and a crazy low $4,600 in the Thursday-Monday slate. In a game with a 1-point spread and a 49-point over/under, I’m happy to pay this amount for a lead back who catches passes and takes over touches in scoring range.