The long-awaited shoe has dropped.
Josh Gordon, off a one-year suspension for violating the NFL’s terribly antiquated drug policy, should return to the field this season. His conditional reinstatement doesn’t officially kick in until Week 5, effectively suspending the receiver four games, but he is allowed to participate in training camp and team meetings. The added practice time and involvement in team activities is immeasurable, especially given the likely rust accumulated during his prolonged absence.
News of his expected return couldn’t be more timely for fantasy owners. With the heart of the draft season right around the corner, Gordon goes from late-round lottery ticket to Round 6-7 ‘reach’ in 12-team formats. PPR leaguers may dislocate shoulders a little earlier given the format.
Gordon was a transcendent fantasy asset when he burst onto the scene in 2013. Despite missing the season’s first two games, he posted a to-die-for 87-1646-9 line, equal to 16.2 standard fantasy points per game. That output not only set the pace at the position, it was on the level of Calvin Johnson and Randy Moss in their primes. For comparison’s sake, Antonio Brown, who was absolutely ridiculous last year, averaged 15.4 fantasy points per game in standard settings.
Before anointing him as a WR1 or even a middle-of-the-road WR2, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Gordon’s missed time, RGIII’s general incompetence and Cleveland’s suspect offensive line lend pause. Throw in the fact he’s one toke away from a possible lifetime ban and he will miss 30 percent of the fantasy regular season, and he’s a significant risk, even at a discounted price.
Still, “Flash’s” upside is massive. If everything clicks, he could be a cornerstone on championship rosters. He possesses all the tools – size, speed, strength, ball-adjustment skills – to torture defensive backs deep. His after catch talents are tremendous. And he’s still a pup at 25 years old. Add in the presence of rookie blazer Corey Coleman, Gary Barnidge and Duke Johnson to alleviate pressure, and the Chihuahuas’ previous misfortunes are looking up.
At this point, it’s appropriate to get down with the Brown in the Michael Floyd/Eric Decker/Donte Moncrief tier of your draft. Stave off the wacky tobacky and Gordon will finally shed his one-year-wonder image.
Thank you Roger Goodell for being sensible, for once.
The ‘Factory of Sadness’ may soon crank out sunshine.
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