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Are You Buying or Selling Josh Gordon?

Y’know what we like to do? Get together and come up with 2000 words about Josh Gordon. It’s what we do.

Gordon is a Potential League-Winner in All Formats – Anthony Amico

There is risk here. Gordon has played just five games over the last two seasons, and could be suspended again. But what kind of fantasy player are you? Do you want to build your portfolio on Alex Smith-esque fantasy screen passes, or are you willing to YOLO-ball your way to success a la Matthew Stafford?

The percentage of players to miss so much time and then succeed is very small, but so is the percentage of those players as talented as Gordon. When he had his monster 2013 performance, it was under the tutelage of Rob Chudzinski, an aggressive downfield passing head coach. Hue Jackson has similar tendencies, and targeted A.J. Green 31 percent of the time in 2014 when he was the only show in town. It is almost impossible for Gordon to ever be drafted or valued at his top five WR upside before the season starts, and you should be buying early and often as a result.

The Price is High – Charlie Kleinheksel 

At pick 4.11,1 Gordon is going ahead of Jeremy Maclin (PPR WR16), Doug Baldwin (WR10), Eric Decker (WR13), Jordan Matthews (WR16), and Allen Hurns (WR19), as well as high upside WRs John Brown, Michael Floyd, Breshad Perriman, Tyler Lockett, and Devante Parker. There are a lot of chances to get a player with WR1 upside at or below Gordon’s current ADP, and none of them are one mistake away from suspension. If Gordon is reinstated, his price will climb even higher, making it even more imperative that he produces a full season of top flight production to justify his ADP. I could see doing it in round seven, maybe, if you already had a couple of reliable WRs locked up. But fourth round seems too pricy to me.

Savior of the Universe, He’ll Save Every One of Us, He’s a Miracle – @14TeamMocker 

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Targets Are The Lifeblood of Fantasy Scoring. In his last two seasons, Flash has 206 targets in 19 games, or 10.9 per game, which is a 16 game pace of 174. There were only five players who had 174 targets last season, and they finished the year as the overall PPR WR1, WR2, WR3, WR4, and WR9.2 In 2014, two players had 174 targets, and they finished the year as overall PPR WR1 and WR2. In 2013, three players had 174 targets, and they finished as overall PPR WR4, WR10, and WR11. Interestingly, the WR4 from 2013 was Hue Jackson-coached A.J. Green.

While the Browns may improve as a team eventually, that’s probably not in the cards yet for next year, so they should find themselves in similar game scripts that led to them throwing the 11th most attempts in the league this year. Both Gary Barnidge and Travis Benjamin were top 27 in the league in targets, with 123 and 124, respectively. Barnidge’s targets are a clear reflection of Cleveland’s lack of a red zone threat. At 6 feet, 3 inches with a 36-inch vertical, and an off the charts TD rate over nine percent, I expect Flash to be one of the league leaders in targets and touchdowns. In fact, I’m not sure it’s possible he can be overdrafted.

He’ll probably smoke weed… – @RotoDoc 

…not that there’s anything wrong with that. Except in the NFL. Dammit Goodell.

Feel Lucky Punk? – Anthony Calatayud 

Considering he could be banished from the NFL at any point, Josh Gordon will win your league….or leave you with a crater sized hole on your re-draft roster. Is he worth the gamble?

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and revisit his 2013 season in contrast to the WR4 of that year, who also happens to be his closest comparison, A.J. Green. We’ll also look at Green’s 2014, when he was coached by now-Browns coach Hue Jackson.

Gordon is on par with Green in almost every respect. If the NFL gives him the nod, look for his ADP to jump to the third round or higher come draft day.

Saying Gordon can play in all 16 games next season is a stretch, but his 2013 season gives us a ray of hope.

I wouldn’t pick Gordon any higher than the fourth or fifth round in upcoming redrafts. He could literally go sky-high in either sense of the phrase.

Everything Has a Price – Fantasy Douche

I own Josh Gordon on a dynasty team where I acquired him about a week or two before his most recent suspension. I was risk-seeking when I made the trade so I can’t really complain that I got unlucky. But I’m definitely looking for ways that I could get out of owning him at a decent price now. This will sound silly, but one reason is that when I read something about Gordon recently he said it was probably a good thing he got suspended because he was partying too much (paraphrase). But that follows a long op-ed he had written where the central message was that he wasn’t out of control and he was basically targeted by the league (and was also the victim of misunderstanding related to his suspension).

The thing that I took away from Gordon’s most recent claim that the suspension might have been good for him is that it’s basically impossible for me to look at anything he says and really know whether I’m getting accurate information. I’m just a stupid fake football hobbyist, so Gordon doesn’t owe me any honesty. He can really do what he wants. But in terms of how invested I am in Gordon, I think I have to look at his various claims along the way and realize I’ll never know whether he’s reduced the risk of further suspension. If I could get something like two first round picks for him, I’d probably do it. Otherwise, I’m fine just rolling the dice and hoping that he’s turned things around. Everything has a price. 

This Isn’t a “Football” Decision; Or, “Nostalgia:  The pain of old wounds” – John Solis

Gordon’s 2013 production kicked the fantasy community in the nuts, and we’re still savoring the sweet, sweet sting of success.  That season also left a scar on our hearts; something we’ll always remember. I don’t think anyone who had Gordon on their 2013 squad can look at him in a rational way — I know I can’t.  

To continue the testicle-themed rhetoric, whether you invest in Gordon or not is going to come down to balls. When he’s healthy and playing, Gordon is not just a WR1, he’s capable of being the WR1. He’s only 24 years old, with essentially only one season of football-stress on his body. If he’s really turned a corner, you could be locking up a top dynasty WR for the next several seasons.

I don’t know Gordon personally because he never notices me when I @ him. But from what I can tell, he’s more sophisticated than most give him credit for.   

Every year, your league championship is won by someone who rolled the dice and came out ahead. Gordon is currently dynasty’s WR35, which means the owner who drafts him is skipping out on Eric Decker or Devin Funchess. If you’re a risk-seeking fantasy football manager, there isn’t a receiver in the league offering Gordon’s upside at such a “low” cost. For me, the choice is easy.

Who Even Cares If He Busts? – Justin Winn 

I don’t really care if Gordon ends up being a bust for redraft purposes. Let’s start with two premises in regards to Gordon specifically:

  1. He has as much upside as any other WR.
  2. He also has unlimited downside.

Now when I draft I’m almost always using a Zero RB Strategy. That means:

  1. I’m always drafting a surplus of WRs.
  2. I’m trying to build a dominant team.

Are the two points I made about Gordon and the two points I made about my own draft strategy incompatible? I don’t think they are. Gordon’s downside is minimized and his upside is exactly what I want.

I’m not drafting Gordon in the top two rounds. Price is certainly a consideration. I don’t think I’d draft him ahead of someone I confidently project to be a WR1 or high-end WR2, such as Brandin Cooks or TY Hilton. But I’d certainly be more comfortable drafting him than any WR who is old enough to fall off the age cliff, and thus has similar downside. I’d also strongly prefer him to WRs like Jarvis Landry, Emmanuel Sanders, or Doug Baldwin, who I believe have significantly less upside.

What Can You Do? – Matthew Freedman 

I’ve had Gordon on my primary dynasty team since he entered the NFL, and near the end of his second-season breakout I argued that he was a better dynasty asset than Calvin Johnson. At the time, that take burned hotter than a sailor’s penis after shore leave. And it also might’ve been really banal.

Anyway, here’s what you do in a dynasty format if Gordon is reinstated: Nothing. Phrased differently: What can you do? Or to borrow from Seinfeld: Everybody’s doing something. We’ll do nothing.

If you have him, the chances are that you’ve probably had him for a while. You’ve prayed, you’ve hoped, you’ve grown impatient, you’ve tried to trade him only to find that nobody wants him, you’ve thought about dropping him just so you don’t have to see his name, and now you’ve triumphed. You can’t trade him because he still might be one of the best receivers in the league — and, more importantly, because no one else will value him the way that you will.

And if you don’t have Gordon in dynasty, you can’t trade for him… because you won’t value him as highly as the sociopath-who-stashed-Gordon-on-the-bench-for-over-a-year will value him. Trust me, I’m that sociopath. I’m doing nothing… just as I did for the last 12 months.  

Playing the Market – Mike Beers

Three quick points:
– The 2013 Browns attempted 176 more passes than the 2015 Bengals. It’s a long shot that Gordon would get similar volume even if he gets similar market share.
– Only four of the top 12 WRs from last year had ADPs outside the first five rounds and none of them were drug addicts (as far as I know).
– Since 2013, Gordon has failed to hit weekly WR24 in 42 percent of his games.
You can find first round production in the fifth round without taking on Gordon’s risk. So why might I still own some shares?

I will use an investing analogy, in part because it’s what I am doing when the RotoViz Bat-Signal is not up, and in part because picking Gordon is an investment decision.  A hedge fund manager I know has had a lot of success investing in companies with an especially high level of uncertainty about their future. One example is a mining company which appeared to have an undervalued business, but also had a labor union contract expiring in the near future and related legal problems, along with a totally unpredictable risk of its mines being burned down amidst the region’s civil unrest. If things went sideways, the company’s operations would stall and the stock would get smacked.  This investor’s approach was to buy a small amount of stock before the union dispute was resolved, with the intention of buying a lot more if there was a favorable legal resolution. He knew he would only capture a little bit of benefit from that first jump in price, but the company with the union contract settled was more attractive, even at a higher price.

Josh Gordon is that mining company. He’s a potentially great asset with tremendous upside, but right now, before we know whether he will be reinstated, there is real catastrophic risk. For me, that risk takes him out of consideration for the first five rounds, where are too many safer high-upside options available. I will make a small pre-reinstatement-decision investment (a couple of MFL10 shares if this isn’t resolved before drafts fire up again), and then I’ll buy in aggressively once I know that he will play and he’s in shape. I think there is a lot more value in a second-round Gordon who I know will play and bring his A-game than in a late fourth-round Gordon who has a real chance of never seeing the field again… and there’s always that risk of fire (pun!), so make sure you can stomach the unexpected if it comes.

  1. Per Fantasy Football Calculator.  (back)
  2. Per FF Today  (back)

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