AFC East

Upside Moving Forward for Michel and Gordon – Tom Kovack

by Tom Kovack

It’s Time to Buy into Sony Michel

If there’s one thing the Patriots do well, it’s building up their running game when the weather gets cold and the playoff season ramps up. And with an offense that doesn’t have Gronk or Josh Gordon anymore and isn’t as dynamic in their deep passing game as they once were, they have found success going more to the run, especially since their defense keeps handing them big leads every game.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, the Patriots have a number one running back, Sony Michel. Only one game this season has he received less than 15 carries. That’s unheard of for a Patriots back as the team traditionally goes to a crazy committee every game. In PPR leagues, Michel has gotten over 20 points in two of the last three games, and in non-PPR leagues, 18 points in two of his last three. However, he’s still being ranked by most experts just inside or even completely outside of the top-20, even behind James White some weeks.

The Patriots are keeping things simple this year and playing the hand they have. Whether Mohammed Sanu changes that hand any, I don’t know, but expect the Patriots to continue to keep running the ball more than they ever have and playing a more Y.A.C. passing game, going to running backs like Michel and James White and utilizing Edelman on screens, slants, and out-routes.

Rex Burkhead can change things some, but his health is up in the air. The fact he’s been questionable since week 3 and keeps being ruled out is an indicator his injury may be worse than people think. Regardless of Burkhead or White, Michel is still going to get the heavy workload in the backfield as the team enters the playoffs. Getting 15 to 20 points per game is a realistic outcome, especially given the Patriots schedule moving forward, while tougher, is still ripe for points. If you have Michel, or have the chance to get him in a trade, get him in your starting lineup moving forward.

Don’t give up on Melvin Gordon Yet

Melvin Gordon has been all but given up on in many leagues and dropped outside the top-20 in rankings, even well behind Ekeler in PPR formats. But I wouldn’t slam the door shut on him yet. Remember, Gordon didn’t have a preseason, so it will take him a few games to get the reps in. Also, the Chargers schedule has been difficult and they’ve been banged up on the offensive line, and have been going up against inferior defensive lines, such as the Steelers.

Moving forward, the Chargers will get healthier and their schedule eases up. After the Bears game this weekend, four of the next five Chargers games are against run defenses ranked in the bottom-half of the league. Gordon has been a top-10 back in the past and I still believe he has the potential to be a top-10 back again. Whether or not they trade him in the next week, who knows. You can’t play the “what-if” game. I do believe, however, Anthony Lynn will continue to utilize him as a starter, mixing him in with Ekeler, and there will be more opportunities moving forward for him to break out and become the top-10 back he once was.

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