Any sensible human being understands much can transpire in three years. The last time Josh Gordon donned an NFL uniform, in 2014, “Boyhood” and “Birdman” dominated the movie awards season, people camped out in ridiculously long lines to purchase the newly unveiled Apple Watch and JuJu Smith-Schuster was a bright-eyed 17 year-old freshman at USC.
Yep, it’s been a minute.
Still, news of Gordon’s conditional reinstatement sent fanatics into a frenzy, as scores of owners, desperately chasing the next big thing, scoured league waiver wires in the hopes of seeing a + next to the wideout’s name. Admittedly, I happily played that game. Others, meanwhile, preached avoidance. Undoubtedly, his resurrection has created a great divide …
In 2013, Gordon took the world by storm. Then a mere pup at 22 years old, the receiver, a supplemental steal and quite possibly the shrewdest pick by the Browns in recent team history, stole the show. In only 14 games, he amassed a line for the ages totaling 87 catches for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns. He enticed a massive 27.3 percent of Cleveland’s targets share and averaged 18.9 yards per route. And he accomplished that with three-headed ferret Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer at quarterback. Next to flight, the polio vaccine and NETFLIX, it was one of humanity’s greatest achievements.
Eligible to return to game action Week 13 in Los Angeles (Chargers), Gordon has the fantasy community wondering. Given the accumulated rust, does he have anything left? Could he possibly step in and deliver WR3 results, or better, during the most critical juncture of the season?
Of course, no self-proclaimed palm reader has the right answer, but Gordon is at least worth a flier in 12-team and deeper leagues. Keep in mind he’s only 26 and, by the look of his social media offerings, he’s more shredded than Drax the Destroyer from “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Though his fantasy playoff schedule isn’t the friendliest (GB, BAL, at CHI), if he’s even half the player he once was, he would still be highly employable as a WR3 in challenging formats. Bottom line, the man is an athletic freak blessed with ideal size, long-range speed and press-breaking strength to again fluster defensive backs.
Whether owners kick the tires on the former All-Pro is entirely contingent on current standing/need. I acquired Gordon in three of seven leagues for various reasons. Two were clear upside plays for teams trending toward the playoffs (Team 1: 5-3; dropped DeShone Kizer in a 12-team, 2QB league; Team 2: 7-1; 12-teams; dropped Danny Amendola, my sixth WR). The other was out of sheer desperation for a suitable WR3 (3-5 16-team squad killed by Terrelle Pryor).
The risk was minimal. The potential reward could be extraordinary.
Yes, Kizer (52.7 cmp%) is a complete numbskull who, by comparison, would make Cam Newton seem accurate. And, yes, Gordon is a complete wildcard. But thoughts of 2013 are too seducing to ignore.
Over the season’s final five games, he’ll be awfully motivated to prove he still belongs. Money, after all, is a powerful influencer. It would be one incredible comeback story.
Welcome back, Josh Gordon, fantasy football’s ultimate guilty pleasure.