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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.
Cleveland Browns @Browns
Welcome back to the end zone, Josh Gordon! #GBvsCLE https://t.co/VZnfs58864
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.
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
Josh Gordon is ready to make up those 3 years 😎 https://t.co/mPkiZfVkzz
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.
It didn’t take long for Josh Gordon to re-establish himself as the Browns’ best offensive player (at least with Joe Thomas not playing).
Sam Vecenie @Sam_Vecenie
Man, Josh Gordon is a crazy, crazy natural talent. Dude basically has been gone for three years and here he is, just dominating like he never left.
He is also the tide that raises all boats.
Bucky Brooks @BuckyBrooks
It’s amazing how different the #Browns offense looks with a legitimate WR1 on the field. Gordon not only helps the rookie QB but he’s allowed the team’s other weapons to settle into their designated roles (see No.19)
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.