2013 Fantasy Football Profile and Projection: Browns WR Josh Gordon
Last season, Gordon was one of three rookies with 800-plus receiving yards along with Justin Blackmon and T.Y. Hilton, and he led the Browns in both yards (805) and receiving touchdowns (five).
Considering that Gordon last played college football in 2010 as he sat out the 2011 season after failing multiple drug tests at Baylor and then transferring to Utah, the feat is even more impressive.
With an uncommon blend of size (6'4", 220 lbs) and speed (once recorded a time in the 4.3 range at Baylor), Gordon is one of the league's better big-play receivers and was tied for eighth last season in yards per reception (16.1) with Carolina's Steve Smith and Detroit's Calvin Johnson.
In the middle of the season (Games 5 through 13), Gordon was even better. During that nine-game stretch, he had 35 receptions for 639 yards, which was 15th-best in the NFL, and five touchdowns. Among the 17 players to have at least 600 receiving yards during that span, his yards-per-reception average of 18.26 was second behind only Vincent Jackson.
Extrapolating those numbers over a full 16-game season would have given him an average of 62 receptions for 1,136 yards and nine touchdowns.
Suspended For Weeks 1 and 2; Full-Year Suspension Next?
Of course, you know that Gordon won't play 16 games this year (unless you count the preseason or if the Browns make the postseason). Earlier this offseason, he was suspended for two games and docked four game checks for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
Per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, Gordon claims that he had been prescribed an antibiotic and cough medicine containing codeine, which is a banned substance.
The biggest risk with anyone drafting Gordon in your fantasy league(s) is that his next failed drug test could lead to a full-year suspension, per Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
In addition, Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland recently wrote that since the end of last season, Gordon has "gravitated to South Beach [...] and ran with a different crowd. He was influenced by the wrong people."
If you're a glass-half-full guy, the suspension (and risk of a full-year ban) means that Gordon will cost you much less on draft day than he otherwise would have.
Positive Buzz on the Field
Before the suspension, Cabot tweeted that Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden said that Gordon "has the ability to be a top 3 receiver in this league."
A month ago, Grossi wrote the following in his assessment of the team's roster: "Josh Gordon has the most physical ability of any player on the roster. The only thing that can stop him from being an elite player this year is himself."
Under new offensive coordinator Norv Turner, the Browns will push the ball down the field as his offense has historically done. Based on stats from this post by Football Perspective, a Turner-coached team has had a wide receiver finish in the top 10 in yards per reception in all but two years since 1987.
ADP and Outlook
Based on average draft position (ADP) from Fantasy Football Calculator, Gordon is going in the eighth round and is the 38th wide receiver, on average, off the board.
There is certainly risk with Gordon, but he will miss Weeks 1 and 2 when there are no byes and you should have plenty of wide receiver depth and options to fill his spot. Once he returns, however, he has a chance to be a top-20 fantasy (or better) WR from Weeks 3-16 provided he stays healthy and out of trouble.
2013 Stat Projection: 60 Receptions, 1,092 Receiving Yards, 8 TDs
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