While the confirmed year-long loss of Josh Gordon hurts the Cleveland Browns, there are clear benefits for fantasy football owners—in particular, those who drafted or plan to draft either Jordan Cameron or Andrew Hawkins.
Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports reported the news of Gordon's one-year suspension being upheld on Wednesday:
Last season, Gordon led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards (in 14 games), adding nine touchdowns. Following his loss for the season, previous owners are scrambling to find who will be the main beneficiary for Cleveland in 2014.
Hawkins, a former Cincinnati Bengals receiver, might just fill that void for fantasy players. His numbers show he's a reliable target after catching five passes on five targets in the Browns' latest preseason game, and he has been a standout in practice.
NFL: Around the League notes the noise he's made early on:
With several question marks surrounding the Browns early on, Hawkins might just be the perfect fit for the Browns. Along with his play on the field, he's made an impact with his leadership and professionalism.
Browns coach Mike Pettine referenced those traits, per Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer:
You would think he was a 10-year veteran with the way he carries himself. When we talk to the young wide receivers, he's the guy — if you want to pattern yourself after a guy, that's the guy. He comes out and works hard every day, on the field, off the field. It's been a very pleasant surprise.
While professionalism doesn't exactly translate over to fantasy, it will help keep him on the field. And as any fantasy owner knows, being reliable helps tremendously when looking at a player's value.
Along with the departure of Gordon for the regular season, the Browns' offensive weapons will have to be comfortable with Brian Hoyer during Week 1. After being named the starter, Hoyer has shown a comfort level with Cameron on the field thus far.
The two have been a successful duo in the early going, as Andy Behrens of Yahoo Sports points out, via Scott Pianowski:
Cameron ranked third at his position in both receptions (80) and targets (117) last year, and second in receiving yards (917). He was at his best with Brian Hoyer behind center, but he also managed to catch TD passes from a pair of sketchy quarterbacks (Weeden, Campbell) and a punter.
Cameron posted career highs last year with 80 receptions, 917 yards and seven touchdowns. If his relationship with Hoyer continues to grow, he could see an even bigger jump this season.
Having a dynamic receiver such as Gordon off the field this season will certainly reduce the chances of Cleveland having a winning season, but it helps fantasy players at other positions.
For those who miss out on Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski, Cameron might be another name to look for midway through the draft. And with an average draft position of 6.01, according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com, he won't come at the price of other top tight ends.
With Hawkins, his name isn't even on the projections for the average draft position. But as he establishes himself early on in place of Gordon, look for his stock to rise in dramatic fashion. He is an explosive player who has the potential to make a splash in Gordon's absence. This could be his opportunity to stand out.
Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.