RB Index, Week 8: Chargers should pursue Melvin Gordon trade

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This Los Angeles Chargers season has been anything but predictable. They have lost five of their last six games, including three straight, and among widespread issues, Melvin Gordon still remains at the center of it all.

The running back's season began with a holdout, in an attempt to negotiate a long-term deal heading into the final year of his rookie contract, that lasted deep into September. Gordon returned to action in Week 5 but hadn't really done anything of note -- until committing a goal-line fumble Sunday that cost the Chargers a win over the Titans.

Before the season, Gordon turned down a deal from the Chargers worth $10 million per season, which prompted the Chargers to give Gordon's representatives the liberty to seek a trade, because general manager Tom Telesco said he would not negotiate a new deal until the season ended. I wrote that the Chargers should trade their RB1 if they didn't intend to extend the Pro Bowler.

Seven weeks later, I still think the Chargers should actively try to trade Gordon before the Oct. 29 trade deadline.

First and foremost, if the Chargers don't have any intention of paying Gordon at the end of the year, why wouldn't they trade him? Sure, Los Angeles is in line for a third-round compensatory pick if Gordon signs elsewhere in free agency in March. But I think both parties would benefit from a trade now.

The Chargers desperately need offensive line help, with center Mike Pouncey (neck) and guard Forrest Lamp (ankle) on injured reserve. (Update: Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said Wednesday that offensive tackle Russell Okung is set to play this week against the Bears.) Plus, Gordon hasn't been the same player he was before the holdout. In three starts so far this season, his longest run was for 7 yards, and he has yet to post a rushing touchdown. Knowing Austin Ekeler, who piled up 490 yards from scrimmage (6.1 yards per touch) with six total touchdowns during Gordon's four-game absence, can fit the bill, Los Angeles should deal Gordon and go get some help up front. I believe the Chargers would at least break even by getting that third-round pick. And they could end up with more -- who knows, with the way trades are going these days? There are teams that would pay for a running back with the skill set of Gordon, who posted 5,205 scrimmage yards in his first four seasons, third-most among NFL running backs in that span.

I do know one thing, though, and it's that the Chargers have a chance to turn their season around. Making this move could jump-start a run, even against a tough upcoming slate.

Now, let's get to the weekly rankings ...

Former NFL rushing leader and NFL Network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew will survey all running backs and rank his top 15 each week of the 2019 season. His rankings are based on this season's efforts alone. Here is MJD's list heading into Week 8.

NOTE: Arrows reflect changes from last week's rankings.

Check out the FedEx Air NFL Players of the Week and cast your vote.

RANK

1

Christian McCaffrey

2019 stats: 6 games | 127 att | 618 rush yds | 4.9 ypc | 7 rush TDs | 35 rec | 305 rec yds | 2 rec TDs

Coming off a Week 7 bye, the Panthers back faces a 49ers run defense that is allowing 90 rushing yards per game (seventh-best in the NFL). I wouldn't put it past a well-rested McCaffrey to tear up Robert Saleh's unit for 150 scrimmage yards. We'll see how this plays out.

RANK

2

Dalvin Cook

2019 stats: 7 games | 133 att | 725 rush yds | 5.5 ypc | 8 rush TDs | 24 rec | 220 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Cook spearheaded the Vikings' win over the NFC North-rival Lions last week by getting the ground game going early, and he finished the day with 142 rushing yards and two TDs on 25 carries. The Vikings have a tough stretch in their schedule coming up, with the Washington Redskins coming to town Thursday on a short week, followed by road games in Kansas City and Dallas. Cook must bring his A-game -- like he has all season -- from here on out.

RANK

3

Nick Chubb

2019 stats: 6 games | 114 att | 607 rush yds | 5.3 ypc | 6 rush TDs | 20 rec | 128 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Kareem Hunt was cleared to practice Monday as he takes another step closer to returning to game action in Week 10. But this is very much Chubb's job. The second-year back has been one of the more consistent players on Freddie Kitchens' offense. Coming out of the Week 7 bye, I'd expect Chubb to take his play to the next level, knowing Hunt's suspension is nearing its end.

RANK

4

Ezekiel Elliott

2019 stats: 7 games | 135 att | 602 rush yds | 4.5 ypc | 6 rush TDs | 24 rec | 176 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

It was nice to see Zeke run HARD in what felt like a must-win game on Sunday night. The Cowboys desperately needed a big showing, and Zeke delivered, with 22 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown to go along with six receptions for 36 yards. With his timely performance, he became the first running back to rush for more than 100 yards against the Eagles since he did it in Week 14 of last season.

RANK

5

Leonard Fournette

2

2019 stats: 7 games | 144 att | 715 rush yds | 5.0 ypc | 1 rush TD | 28 rec | 203 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

After a disappointing 2018, Fournette has wrecked defenses this season, and the story was no different against the Bengals on Sunday, when he finished with 29 carries for 131 yards. Fournette has a league-high 536 rushing yards since Week 4. His renewed confidence shows every time he takes the field. With all the injuries and recent trades, he's the reason this Jags team continues to make a push for the AFC South title.

RANK

6

Josh Jacobs

6

2019 stats: 6 games | 109 att | 554 rush yds | 5.1 ypc | 4 rush TDs | 9 rec | 87 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

The Raiders rookie has been so impressive through six games that he's passing guys like Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen in the team's history books, topping Jackson (553) and Allen (462) with the most rushing yards by a Raider in the first six games of his career (554). Jacobs is the most consistent piece of Jon Gruden's offense, as he's been able to find production against any opponent.

RANK

7

Marlon Mack

2

2019 stats: 6 games | 119 att | 514 rush yds | 4.3 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 10 rec | 54 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Mack took a backseat to Jacoby Brissett and the passing game on Sunday. The quarterback, who posted a four-TD day, was able to take pressure off Mack against the Texans, but that hasn't always been the case this year. The Colts running back still found ways to be productive on the ground and caught all three of his targets for 12 yards. A balanced offense is what this team needs, even if that's at the cost of Mack's numbers.

RANK

8

Alvin Kamara

2

2019 stats: 6 games | 86 att | 373 rush yds | 4.3 ypc | 1 rush TD | 33 rec | 276 rec yds | 1 rec TD

I don't expect Kamara (ankle/knee) to be sidelined for an extended period of time, so he stays in for another week. His spot next week will depend on whether or not he plays against the Cardinals.

RANK

9

Aaron Jones

1

2019 stats: 7 games | 101 att | 399 rush yds | 4.0 ypc | 8 rush TDs | 27 rec | 196 rec yds | 1 rec TD

Jones bounced back against the Raiders on Sunday from his poor outing against Detroit. The Packers can beat their opponents in so many ways, which includes using the running backs in the pass game. Jones caught the first of Aaron Rodgers' five TD passes on the day; it was Jones' first receiving score of the season. My guess is, that won't be his only one.

RANK

10

Mark Ingram

2

2019 stats: 7 games | 99 att | 470 rush yds | 4.7 ypc | 7 rush TDs | 12 rec | 96 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Ingram's quarterback has 100 rushing yards more than he does. This would be hard to believe if his QB was anyone but Lamar Jackson. I've said before that these two complement each other so well, and Jackson's unbelievable ability to scramble sometimes limits Ingram's touches. That was the case in Seattle, where Jackson ran for 116 yards and a score, as Ingram finished with 12 carries for 46 yards (3.8 yards per carry), which led to his short slide here.

RANK

11

Chris Carson

2

2019 stats: 7 games | 139 att | 569 rush yds | 4.1 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 22 rec | 149 rec yds | 2 rec TDs

Carson fell down the ranks after having just 65 rush yards on 21 carries -- his fewest rushing yards on at least 20 carries in his career -- against Baltimore. The Ravens' front seven stifled Carson and the Seahawks' rush attack for a majority of the game, but the crew should get back on track in Week 8 against a Falcons defense that's allowing 113.7 rush yards per contest.

RANK

12

Derrick Henry

2

2019 stats: 7 games | 135 att | 506 rush yds | 3.7 ypc | 5 rush TDs | 7 rec | 120 rec yds | 1 rec TD

Henry did enough to keep a lot of the pressure off Ryan Tannehill in the QB's first start as a Titan in Week 7, finishing with 90 rushing yards, one rushing TD and 18 receiving yards. The former Heisman Trophy winner is averaging a career-high 72.3 rush yards per game this season despite a career low in yards per attempt (3.7).

RANK

13

Todd Gurley

NR

2019 stats: 7 games | 82 att | 311 rush yds | 3.8 ypc | 5 rush TDs | 15 rec | 81 rec yds | 1 rec TD

The Rams desperately needed to end their skid, and they were able to do so against the Falcons with a boost from Jalen Ramsey and some big-time plays by the offense. Gurley's big-time plays feel few and far between this season compared to last, but his over-the-shoulder TD reception in the second quarter gave the Rams a lead they wouldn't give up. Seeing Gurley meet the challenge in important moments is something this group's been missing.

RANK

14

Le'Veon Bell

3

2019 stats: 6 games | 100 att | 326 rush yds | 3.3 ypc | 1 rush TD | 29 rec | 175 rec yds | 1 rec TD

Bell isn't getting any help out there. It's been a major challenge for the dynamic runner to find a rhythm in this offense. When you're trailing by more than three scores and your QB is handing out picks like Oprah does cars, there's not much you can do as a running back.

RANK

15

Carlos Hyde

2019 stats: 7 games | 111 att | 461 rush yds | 4.2 ypc | 3 rush TDs | 6 rec | 22 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

The Texans played from behind for much of Sunday's game, which limited Hyde's touches to 12 (his lowest total since Week 3). He'll need a big week to hold off other backs closing in on my top 15.

Dropped out: Phillip Lindsay, Broncos (previously No. 13).

The Ground Index delivered by FedEx ranks NFL running back performances all season long. What is the possibility Dalvin Cook takes No. 1 in next week's ranking? Check out the FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players of the Week and cast your vote.

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