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Dynasty Building Blocks: Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon

So you may have heard that the RotoViz Dynasty League kicked off this week. I’m typically fairly selective these days in which new leagues I join, but this was an offer I couldn’t pass up. For those interested, here are the specifics of the league including the rules, scoring system and participants.

The writers participating in the league are tremendous, and the early going hasn’t been a walk in the park. Having 14 teams has added another layer of strategy because the elite players become scarcer and the rookie draft won’t occur until after the veteran portion of the draft is completed.

The RotoViz motto of finding value has been paramount in the startup draft. Often times when you join a league that has owners with similar evaluation philosophies, getting an edge becomes more difficult. There haven’t been many players that have “fallen” further than they should have. Then the discussion turns to finding players that the market is undervaluing but have the potential to exceed expectations.

The one player I knew I had earmarked for one of my early draft selections was wide receiver Josh Gordon of the Browns.

When I selected him depended on how the draft unfolded and how many wide receivers were off the board. Given that I just updated my dynasty rankings to reflect Gordon as my WR12, I was willing to draft him as high as my third round pick (41st overall). And that’s what I did.

Gordon was the 17th wide receiver off the board in the RDL. As my pick approached, I sweated bullets knowing that he was a darling of the staff and that he was getting closer to his ADP of WR27 at Dynasty League Football.

DLF does not have June ADP available yet; however, in monitoring Twitter – Gordon is a player that will spike in popularity this month. Confirming that hunch, 12 of the 17 experts at Fantasy Pros have Gordon ranked higher than his May ADP. This includes five experts that have him at least in their top 15.

I won’t rehash a lot of the great things that have been about Gordon on this site, but I’ll give you the reasons why I think he can be strong WR1 in dynasty and keeper league formats.

First off, Gordon had an impressive rookie season. All things considered, he made an impact as a supplemental draft pick after last playing a competitive football game in 2010 at Baylor. He has some impressive company based on his production combined with his height (6-foot-3) and weight (225 lbs.). Only Calvin Johnson and Julio Jones have more than four receiving touchdowns and a yard per reception total over 15 yards.

Ht & Wt Games Receiving
Rk Player Year Age Tm Lg Ht Wt G Rec Yds Y/R TD Y/G
1 Julio Jones 2011 22 ATL NFL 6-3 220 13 54 959 17.76 8 73.8
2 Josh Gordon 2012 21 CLE NFL 6-3 225 16 50 805 16.10 5 50.3
3 Calvin Johnson 2007 22 DET NFL 6-5 239 15 48 756 15.75 4 50.4
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 6/5/2013.

Next using the Similarity Score app, his comparable players have some impressive names. If we cherry pick some of his stats last year, the comps get even better. Removing Gordon’s first four games (he wasn’t a full time player until Week 5) and his final two games (Weeden was injured and Gordon was left to catch passes from McCoy and Thad Lewis), gives us this list of players:

NAME ADP Rank Value
A.J. Green 2 1 1
Julio Jones 3 4 (1)
Dez Bryant 4 3 1
Demaryius Thomas 5 5 0
Larry Fitzgerald 10 16 (6)
Hakeem Nicks 12 9 3
Andre Johnson 13 14 (1)
Dwayne Bowe 18 22 (4)
Torrey Smith 19 13 6
Josh Gordon 27 12 15
Marques Colston 28 29 (1)

The list is who’s who of elite wide receivers.  I included both the ADP and my wide receiver ranking for each, which shows the potential values. For the most part, most of Gordon’s comps are priced accordingly with him as the obvious exception. On a quick glance, most of these players also have a proven quarterback who can get them the football. The jury is still out on Weeden, and I’ll probably cover him in another post this summer. Even if Weeden isn’t an adequate starter, Gordon is still clearly the best option in the passing game and should receive enough targets to be fantasy relevant.


So what makes Josh Gordon a building block for your dynasty squad?

  • He’s 22 years old
  • He’s the No. 1 receiver on his team
  • He has a coaching staff known for a vertical passing attack
  • He’s one of a select few of receivers in the league with the size, speed, talent and opportunity to be a perennial top-10 fantasy receiver.
  • He’s undervalued (for now)

My dynasty philosophy may differ from most, but I would rather use my first eight to 10 picks on players with upside rather than take win-now players. There is always time to pick off veteran values later in drafts when most owners are trying to find sleeper candidates. Fast forward to the next year and if you drafted your team to win now, and it doesn’t and your sleepers don’t pan out, what do you have? Another thing most dynasty owners don’t ask themselves when they are on the clock, would I select this player in the same spot the following year. Ideally, you want to create capital for your roster by means of being ahead of the curve. Sometimes a roster that looks too young, is a team that is loaded the following year with players with ADPs in the first few rounds.

It is tricky to rely on ADP data to draft a dynasty squad. Because player evaluations can be so different, depending on each owner’s strategy, you shouldn’t worry about taking a player too early or not. It’s your team; if you want a player, go get them. You’ll be kicking yourself later if you wait a round.

Gordon is a perfect example of a player heading in the right direction that is worth selecting sooner than he “should go”. Make Gordon a cornerstone of your dynasty squad this year and beyond.

Bryan Fontaine is the Dynasty Senior Editor for PFF Fantasy. You can follow him on Twitter at @Bryan_Fontaine.

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