Points and receptions? Please. The two biggest fantasy killers are Father Time and Mother Nature.
When a player like Frank Gore hits the ripe old age of 34, naturally, you want to stay the hell away. Like the very end of a banana, no one wants the scraps of a 12-year career – especially one chock full of bumps, bruises, and a butt load of miles.
Well, everyone except me. Strike me with a turnip and color me insane, but I actually think Gore is worth a sneaky late-round pick this year. For once, we’re not talking about a guy who misses half the season. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Gore hasn’t missed a game since 2010, and while we’re busy overvaluing a bunch of younger guys, good luck finding someone this is experienced with a reliable track record.
[the_ad id=”384″]Since I am somewhat of a realistic person, though, I hear your concerns. It goes beyond the age thing, and since we’re now living in a “running back first” kinda world, drafting a reliable RB2 is pretty important. So, before you completely push Gore down the proverbial hill he’s supposedly over, hear me out. There’s still a lot you need to know about this old stud.
Chuffed to Be Cuffed
If you’re looking for an excuse NOT to draft Gore, this is it. After Marlon Mack’s terrific preseason performance last week, I seriously can’t argue with 45 yards on nine carries. I can, however, argue that Gore being cuffed to Mack, or Robert Turbin for that matter, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
While the Colts will share the ball around, there’s nothing to say Gore will suffer. We make a big song and dance about workload and carries during the preseason, but the stats remain the same: Gore still managed 967 yards and six touchdowns in 2015 with Ahmad Bradshaw breathing down his neck. During that very same season, Gore also had a double-digit yard run in 13 games, so he’s definitely no slacker when there’s healthy competition afoot.
The one knock on the Colts last year was the lack of depth. First-year general manager Chris Ballard deserves big ups for his draft strategy, and even if Turbin takes over goal line duties while Mack is used heavily in the receiving game, there’s still plenty for Gore to do. He ranked 12th in points among running backs last year for a reason, and that reason is broken/missed tackles. Gore finished the year as the seventh best back when it came to missed tackles, and while there are concerns surrounding his workload, there’s no doubt that Gore still possesses the elusiveness to make big plays.
Injuries ravished the Colts’ o-line last year, and somehow, Gore still put up his fifth 1,000-yard season since 2011. If you take a moment, it’s kinda crazy how far this unit has come in the span of 12 months. Last season, the Colts’ offensive line ranked first in the league in hurries allowed (190), but we’re now looking at close to a clean bill of health, and a whole bunch of young guys primed and ready to block.
There are still a lot of question marks heading into 2017 – I’m looking at you, Anthony Castonzo. The middle of the line has become a worry following center Ryan Kelly’s injury, though, so this could make finding running lanes difficult – a familiar obstacle for Gore.
On the positive, the return of Jack Mewhort and Denzelle Good could spell nice things for not only Andrew Luck, but the entire Colts’ running game this season. And since they did allow 28 sacks last year, this could be the difference between playoffs or bust.
Cheap N’ Easy
I said earlier that drafting a reliable RB2 is a necessity, but that doesn’t mean you should overspend. The ideal RB2 is someone you can draft late that still gives you a steady stream of production, and that’s exactly where Gore falls.
The Colts haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since Joseph Addai in 2007, so that alone gives you an idea of Gore’s value not only in fantasy, but to the offense as a whole. The best part is, he’s being taken as the 33rd running back in drafts, showing just how overlooked Gore has become.
Picking up Gore in the late rounds of any draft is easy, and while people are still set on unproven guys like Joe Mixon, don’t pass up this chance. Don’t forget, he still had 277 receiving yards last year.
Chip on His Shoulder
Playing in front of two young guns normally motivates veterans. Playing running back at 34 years old is certainly different to playing wide receiver at 34 years old, but still, it’s not like Gore is out of shape.
Looking over his shoulder is one thing, but there’s also bigger fish to fry. There’s the whole contract thing to think about long term, but more importantly, Gore could accomplish something pretty big this season. If he puts up just 620 yards this year, Gore will leap frog Eric Dickerson, Jerome Bettis and LaDainian Tomlinson for fifth on the All-Time Rushing Leaders list – something that could happen as early as Week 8.
Barring injury or a complete stumble, it’d be damning to see Mack or Turbin unseat Gore enough to cost him that milestone. The Colts will be playing it safe with the ailing Andrew Luck, so you can be damn sure they’ll want the 217-pound workhorse in the back field most of the time.