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Who won Broncos running back battle between Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams

Did Melvin Gordon overcome his groin injury to stave off Javonte Williams for the Broncos’ starting job at running back and, if so, for how long?

NFL: Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos’ quarterback competition garnered most of the attention this preseason, but the battle at running back will also have a meaningful impact on the team’s fortunes. The Broncos return Melvin Gordon, a veteran and former Pro Bowler, while adding talented rookie Javonte Williams in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

But whereas Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock shared the practice field and preseason work, Gordon spent much of August nursing a groin injury, opening the door for Williams to impress.


Ostensibly, Gordon remains the starter at running back. However, Williams should still have a significant role early in the season and seems destined to expand his workshare as 2021 unfolds. Gordon returning for the preseason finale might have only delayed the inevitable, as the Broncos’ new general manager hand-picked Williams for an offense that expects to lean on the ground attack.

Fantasy football implications

Williams appears to be the long play given his upside and praise he has received from the coaching staff. Still, Gordon will most likely start early in the season and will retain more value in PPR leagues. Neither will have a bell-cow role due to the other, but both should have starting value in fantasy.