Fantasy Impact: Browns WR Josh Gordon Conditionally Reinstated by the NFL

By Matt Johnson on Wednesday, November 1st 2017
Fantasy Impact: Browns WR Josh Gordon Conditionally Reinstated by the NFL

The wait is over. One of the most popular football players on Twitter, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon received clearance from the NFL on Wednesday and the league conditionally reinstated him from the suspended list. Gordon will be able to return to the practice field on Nov. 20, ESPN's Field Yates reported the news.

It's news that certainly draws headlines. Many remember Gordon for his incredible 2013 season where he put up some of the best numbers across the NFL and seemed ready to emerge as one of the game's best wide receivers. During that 2013 season, Gordon caught 87 passes for 1,646 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. It seemed during that magical season he would make an incredible, must-see play every single week. In just 14 games, Gordon became the first receiver to post consecutive 230-plus yard receiving games. Gordon also finished with 120-plus receiving yards in half of his games that year.

We all know the story after that. During the 2014 season, Gordon received a 10-game suspension from the NFL for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. After a 2013 season where he averaged 18.9 yards per catch, Gordon's YPC average fell to 12.6. He also never found the end zone that year and opponents kept him under 80 receiving yards in four of his five games. He would catch his last pass and take his last NFL snap on December 21, 2014, then missed the last two seasons due to a year-long suspension in 2015 and all of 2016 followed by a decision to seek treatment at a rehab facility.

Gordon's return is remarkable and speaks to his commitment. His story is one that anyone could find easy to root for and many will be pulling for him with his new opportunity. But analyzing him from a fantasy perspective is different, you must look at the realistic scenarios and weigh how much value to put into Gordon's stock.

First, Gordon won't even have the chance to suit up until Nov. 26 at the earliest. In that scenario, it would mean Cleveland cleared him to return to the field and be a part of its offense just a few practices in and hope he can work on the fly with quarterback DeShone Kizer and pick up some of Hue Jackson's offense and be in football shape. That would allow him to play from Week 12-17, a sizable chunk that could still help fantasy owners and be a potential weapon during the fantasy playoffs.

That said, it takes time for a quarterback and wide receiver to develop chemistry. The Alshon Jeffery-Carson Wentz and Sammy Watkins-Jared Goff connections still are a work in progress, but they have already spent significantly more time working together than Kizer and Gordon.

Given the vast amount of time missed, it's a big ask to expect Gordon to return to his 2013 form this quickly. But the physical abilities should still be there given he turned 26 in April. While Cleveland's quarterback situation isn't ideal, Gordon would be the best receiver by leaps and bounds on the team and Kizer would go to him often. 

If you're in a good spot this season, sitting pretty with an 8-0, 7-1 or 6-2 record and feel extremely confident you will make the playoffs, then take a gamble on Gordon. But if you're on the fringe of a playoff spot and will be battling each week, spend your FAAB elsewhere. 

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