The Case Against Josh Gordon

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This article is part of the Fantasy Faceoff series, be sure to check out The Case For Josh Gordon.

Opening Statement

No, I’m not referring to a new legal charge or suspension that he’s now facing. This a case for why I wouldn’t draft Josh Gordon in 2016. In fact, I’m not really going to center this case around his questionable character and maturity. The reasons for concern in that particular area have been documented well enough at this stage in his career. After all, when he hopefully returns to action in week 5 of 2016 it will make for only the 36th game of his NFL career that he has been allowed to play. Conversely, he will have missed a staggering 33 games up to this point due to suspension. Instead of focusing on all of the negativity that caused those suspensions, I want to instead make my case against the perceived “massive upside” for this young player who hasn’t played a snap of competitive professional football in the better part of the last two years.

 2016 Suspension

The fact that he’s only 25 years old should inspire plenty of optimism in keeper and dynasty leagues. I’ll be the first to admit that a player who led the league in receiving yards in 2013 and is still in his prime years, probably hasn’t lost everything if anything that made him special to begin with. That said, I’m choosing to err on the side of caution and be realistic about how long it is going to take him to find his game and return to form.

Its also worth mentioning that he is going to miss the first four weeks of the NFL season. In a fantasy context this means that he will not be able to help your team for at least 25% of the fantasy season while he occupies a valuable spot on your bench. In a football context this means that he has even less time to compete at actual game-speed which is nearly impossible to replicate in practice. This isn’t Major League Baseball, where a player has 162 games to work out the kinks.

He’s allowed to participate in training camp which is nice, but he has already injured his quadricep while trying to get in football shape. This puts him even further behind, begs the question about how far away his conditioning is from where it will need to be, and places further emphasis on the fact that Gordon will have, at best, only 12 games of any fantasy value whatsoever.

He’ll also need to learn a new offense with a new head coach that he has never worked with.


Corey Coleman could be a very special talent himself. I’ll grant the doubters that fact that it’s his rookie year, but he’ll have an extra four games to establish himself within that offense at the beginning of the season. Prior to Josh Gordon’s reinstatement, I expected that Coleman would steadily improve as the season went on and I see no reason why that can’t still be a realistic possibility. If that is the case he will eat into Gordon’s targets this year on an offense that would seemingly prefer to run the ball. Did I mention Gary Barnidge? In 2013 Josh Gordon was the only relevant pass catcher on the Browns. This is no longer the case.

The only realistic upside I see for Gordon in 2016 is that he could bounce back quickly enough to help in the fantasy playoffs. The problem is, you have to make the playoffs first. A hopeful late season breakout that you over invested in won’t do any good for your team, when you’re on the outside of the playoffs looking in.

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Closing Argument

I think there is about a zero percent chance that he has an Adrian Peterson type return from suspension, where he comes right out of the gate and sets the world on fire. This isn’t an established vet with a long track record of finishing inside the top 5 at his position year after year. This is a young man with questionable maturity, whom up until very recently many were ready to write off entirely. A player with a very steep hill to climb if he wants to make any impact this year at all, and for all these reasons, I’m not touching him in 2016.

See where the Fantasy Footballers have Josh Gordon ranked. Read the other cases in our other Fantasy Faceoff Series:

The Case For/Against Sammy Watkins

The Case For/Against Latavius Murray

The Case For/ Against Matt Jones

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