The NFL’s decision to reinstate Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon is a potential boost for Tom Brady and New England’s passing attack. It also creates a possible opportunity for fantasy football players.
When he was on the field in 2018, Gordon was a force to be reckoned with. In 11 games with the Patriots, Gordon compiled 40 catches for 720 yards and three touchdowns. That ranked him inside the top 30 in terms of fantasy points during that span.
Still, it’s difficult to picture exactly where Gordon might fit in with the Patriots.
Here’s what the experts have to say:
ESPN fantasy expert Eric Karabell identified the overarching issue with Gordon, both for the Patriots and also in terms of fantasy football.
“Fantasy managers certainly know the name, but there comes a time to make a decision. Will he play great or … well, will he play?” asked Karabell. “Gordon, 28, has missed considerable time due to multiple suspensions for violating the league’s drug policy.”
What’s less of an unknown factor is what Gordon’s impact would be if he was healthy and on the field. Gordon proved himself to be game changer:
Josh Gordon will be returning to the #Patriots for the 2019 season.
— PFF NE Patriots (@PFF_Patriots) August 16, 2019
Playing in 11 games, Gordon created a few big plays.
“In those 11 games, [Gordon] had a 17.1 [percent] target share,” said ESPN’s Field Yates. “However, of the 18 red zone targets during those 11 games, he saw five of them. So he had some big play proficiency, certainly a useful player in the Patriots passing game.
“The passing game in general spiked last year,” Yates continued. “Tom Brady threw for more than 250 yards last season on 12 occasions, 11 of those came in the 11 games that Josh Gordon was on the field. Tom Brady averaged 303 passing yards with Josh Gordon in the mix. He averaged 204 passing yards without Josh Gordon on the field.”
A few fantasy experts are very optimistic about Gordon’s 2019 season.
“There could be top-12 wide receiver upside with Gordon, even after all this,” wrote Chris Towers of CBS Sports. “There’s plenty of risk involved, to be sure, but Gordon has an incredible opportunity, and he already proved in less-than-ideal circumstances in 2018 that he can still be a very productive receiver.”
Fantasy Pros’ Mike Tagliere sees him as a better value pick than Lions starter Kenny Golladay.
— Mike Tagliere (@MikeTagliereNFL) August 16, 2019
Still, given Gordon’s circumstances, experts are urging a degree of caution.
“There’s obvious risk that comes with Josh Gordon,” said ESPN’s Matthew Berry. “There may not be a player that is on thinner ice than Josh Gordon. We also don’t know what kind of football shape he’s in, right? I mean he has been out of football since December of last year.”
“You don’t feel great about starting him in Week 1, until you see him,” Berry said.
— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) August 16, 2019
And yet, Berry found himself explaining the merits of drafting Gordon.
“On the other hand, it’s Josh Gordon, getting passes from Tom Brady,” Berry admitted. “So again, I would not want to go into the season with Josh Gordon as my starting wide receiver, as one of my top two wide receivers, but the upside and talent is undeniable, and obviously a second year in the system, with the trust of Brady and the fact that there are more targets to go around and not a lot of other guys that Brady has any sort of connection with makes this really interesting.”