After a few weeks away from the team while focusing on his mental well-being, All-Pro wide receiver Josh Gordon has returned to the Cleveland Browns with about three weeks until Cleveland’s opener on September 9 versus the Steelers. Gordon will have a big impact on his real-life team, but his return also has big fantasy football implications. So where should Josh Gordon go in 2018 fantasy football drafts? A few cases can be made.
There are many fantasy options early in fantasy drafts, so selecting Gordon in the first two rounds is probably a bit rich for most people. Anywhere in the third round is where fantasy owners might feel the risk is worth taking for someone with the all-world talent of Gordon. This is a guy that had 87 receptions for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns in his last full* season (he played 14 games because of a two-game suspension to open the season). Red flags are obvious, so this would not be for the faint of heart.
Around the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds is where many will believe a balance is struck between huge upside and potential risk. Players in this area might not necessarily have the upside Gordon has, but they are safer options you can count on being available to play. A good comparison is to Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery, who also hasn’t been on the field this summer as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery and is going around this area in fantasy drafts.
In the middle rounds of your fantasy draft, it’s possible Gordon is sitting there if no one wants to take the dive with a top five or six selection on Gordon. As the double-digit rounds being to approach, no players in the area have the history of near-league-winning upside that Gordon has displayed (granted, it was back in 2013). Gordon could be a FLEX option or a primary bench option if he’s drafted after the first several picks.
Despite his talent, there are a lot of weapons in Cleveland—including Jarvis Landry, Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson Jr., Nick Chubb, and David Njoku. Gordon probably isn’t going to be the clear focus of the offense like he was during his All-Pro season; that, paired with the concerns about him being rusty after missing most of the summer, could be enough that you don’t think he should be taken until the final few picks of the draft. Owners must consider how much of a steal Gordon could be at this point, though.
Don’t Draft Him
Maybe you just don’t want to deal with the headache of not being able to count on Gordon in your lineup. What if you bench another starting-caliber player on Thursday night with the anticipation of Gordon playing on Sunday, and Gordon checks himself into a rehab facility on Saturday? Hopefully that doesn’t happen (for his sake, not for the sake of fantasy owners), but it’s a possibility given the history. It’s hard to blame fantasy owners if Josh Gordon is completely off draft boards in 2018.