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CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 10: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates a touchdown in the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Jason Miller/Getty Images

Josh Gordon is back, and not just in the sense that he’s returned to the field and is playing football again after not appearing in an NFL game since the 2014 season. 

No, Gordon is back in the sense that he’s already an excellent option for fantasy owners and a must-start during your fantasy playoffs.

Think about this—coming into the 2017 season, Gordon’s last game was on Dec. 21, 2014. He didn’t play football for nearly three years. And in his first game back on a football field, he caught four passes for 85 yards.

That wasn’t a fluke. In the first half against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Gordon already had three receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown.

If you thought there might be an adjustment period for Gordon after he spent so much time away from the NFL due to suspension, well, think again.

Gordon was always an elite talent. His 2013 season remains one of the truly breathtaking statistical outputs in recent memory at the wide receiver position, as he caught 87 passes for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 18.9 yards per reception.

If you’re scoring at home, that’s 15.6 fantasy points per week in standard-scoring leagues and 21.8 fantasy points per week in PPR leagues. That’s the sort of upside Gordon possesses, and at 26 years of age, he’s squarely in his physical prime.

The truth is, the sort of production Gordon will offer you may not be as high as what you’d get from him had he not missed so much time. He’s still learning Cleveland‘s offense and is re-acclimating himself to the rigors of the weekly NFL grind.

And DeShone Kizer isn’t an elite quarterback. Plus, a matchup against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 15 could be tricky. Coming into Sunday, the Ravens were second in fantasy points allowed to opposing wideouts per week (15.9). 

He also gets the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17, who are giving up just 18.4 points to the position each week (ninth in the NFL), a consideration for those folks who have playoffs that extend into the final week of the regular season.

In other words, Gordon’s fantasy value isn’t without some mitigating factors.

On the other hand, he gets the Chicago Bears in Week 16, giving up the 12th-most fantasy points (21.2) to the position on a weekly basis, per Yahoo Sports. And it’s not as though the Ravens and Steelers are matchups worth sitting him for—the Ravens have given up double-digit fantasy points to receivers five times this season. The Steelers have done so 10 times.

And Gordon is ridiculously talented. Arguably matchup-proof talented. It took him all of six quarters to remind everyone of that fact.

He is also the tide that raises all boats.

So not only is Gordon a weekly WR2 option, he also improves the fantasy stock of players like Corey Coleman, Duke Johnson and David Njoku. Teams have to pay attention to Gordon at all times, opening up more favorable coverages, passing lanes up the seam and underneath routes. The deep threat he provides means teams can’t key on the run and almost immediately improves the team’s play-action options. 

Such are the benefits now that Gordon is back.

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