Josh Gordon is set to play this week for the Cleveland Browns for the first time since 2014. Gordon has been on a roller coaster ride the past three years, being suspended for all of 2015 and 2016. He has not played in a regular-season game since December 2014. But head coach Hue Jackson per Pat McManamon of ESPN has big plans for him to be a big part in the Cleveland offense.
Jackson also praised the type of player Gordon is and how talented he is and we have seen it before. In 2013 he led the league in receiving yards with 1,646 even though he was suspended the first two games and receiving yards per game (117.6) and posted three consecutive 150-plus-yard games. That has been only done six other times in NFL history and only by Gordon since 1995. In 2014, he was suspended 10 games and finished 303 receiving yards and no touchdowns, catching 24 of 47 targets in five games.
Even though fantasy players are excited to see his return, the impact in fantasy looks unlikely he will perform at a high level. For one reason is the fact he hasn’t played in three seasons, the other is the quarterback situation.
Why Gordon is a Risk
There’s a similar story of Gordon’s return this year. We’ve seen this with Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant. He had a solid in 2014 when he had 549 yards and eight touchdowns on just 26 catches. In 2016 he was suspended for the whole season.
When he returned in 2017 he was expected to return to form, but he has been one of the biggest disappointments. In his 10 games, he’s averaged 2.7 catches for 34.6 yards and 0.2 touchdowns per game. This has resulted in him asking to be traded and even one week as a healthy scratch.
Gordon has proven to be a better player then Bryant but is possible to become a bust as it has happened to a lot of players who have missed a year for substance violations, some have even never made it back to the NFL.
The other major factor is Cleveland’s quarterbacks. Cleveland hasn’t had a solid quarterback in a long time. But Gordon has proved to play well with a lower tier quarterback and even went through a trio of them including Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell. He caught at least one touchdown from all three. But the difference in this situation is that they were experienced.
This year it is quite different. Rookie DeShone Kizer has struggled with only five touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Along with that he could see Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan. Not the best group of quarterbacks compared to his monster 2013 season.
A small factor to consider but rather more side note is his game shape and if he’s fully ready to go. He hasn’t played a down in three seasons, so he may not have a big game right off the bat especially late in the season.
Why Gordon is worth the risk
But if there’s glimmer of hope, Gordon has proved to play well and posting huge numbers in a broken system. His 2013 season is the big reason why. He’s only 26 years old and still looks to be in his prime. Along with that, he’s their best receiver even missing this much time. The fact that Jackson is starting him right away and giving him a big workload gives the indicator that Cleveland needs some help anyway they can get it.
Gordon can also be a big turn around in the Cleveland offense. Per Pro Football Focus’ Nathan Jahnke pointed out Gordon resides in impressive company when it comes to his field-stretching capabilities: “Most Yards Per Route Run since 06 (min 1000 routes): Julio, Brown, Odell, Green, Andre, Demaryius, Megatron, Steve Smith, Evans, Josh Gordon.”
And the good part about that is Kizer is good throwing the ball deep. In 2013, Gordon had the longest reception of 95 yards as well had the most 20-yard plus receptions with 30 and with the most 40-yard plus receptions with nine. The Browns are looking for some big plays and Gordon could be the x-factor to spice up the offense.
Don’t expect Gordon to return to Full form – yet
In the end though I don’t see Gordon producing much in the next four weeks. But Gordon is an intriguing add especially if your team is in the playoffs. For a team that needs to take that big risk, he’s definitely worth a roll of the dice if you’re a fantasy underdog but don’t expect a big game from him. For teams in no contention he isn’t worth the risk unless you like to steal him away if he hasn’t been picked up.
But this is a story to root for. It looks lie he has turned his life around and ready to be a full participant in the NFL. And I expect him to rebound next season. Looking forward to 2018, I rank Gordon a WR2 but has WR1 potential.
Featured image from chicagotribune.com.
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