To draft Josh Gordon, or not draft Josh Gordon? That is the question.
In our ten-team H2H draft this past week, no one took Josh Gordon, the wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns, who dominated as a fantasy WR last year and is now awaiting a ruling on his year-long suspension from the NFL for violating the substance abuse policy by tested positive for marijuana.
But then, soon after the draft, our league manager James Bare (The Blair Walsh Project) picked him up as our first pick off the waiver wire.
Why did he add Josh Gordon? Here’s his take:
When you’re drafting out of the last position, winning a fantasy league doesn’t usually happen without a little creativity. Particularly this season, any running back you go for with the last pick of Round 1 and the first pick of Round 2 will be a reach, unless you’re in a 14-team league. So your strategy shifts, and hitting your late round fliers becomes more important. So let’s look at a late round flier from last year who made it into several starting lineups.
Hail Mary 1, First Half
- 23 points total, games 1-8
- No stud games
Hail Mary 1, Second Half
- 84 total points, games 9-16
- 5 stud games
Who was this masked man who made it from nowhere to late season starter? No other than one of this year’s hot ADP movers, Cordarelle Patterson. As a fantasy player, would it have been worth it to hold on to Patterson last year if you knew he would have the big second half? As someone who drafted him but cut him early, I would have definitely held on to him with the gift of foresight.
Apples to oranges? Perhaps. Is there still uncertainty surrounding Josh Gordon? Absolutely. The rumor that’s been floating is an 8-game suspension, although it sounds like a made-up rumor to me. But let’s say that it is 8 games. What’s the likelihood that a player picked in the 14th round of a highly competitive league could contribute four to five starts in the last eight weeks of the season? Here’s a list of players taken last year in one such league:
(131) Broncos D/ST D/ST
(132) Joe Flacco QB
(133) Kendall Wright WR
(134) Ryan Broyles WR
(135) Texans D/ST D/ST
(136) Bengals D/ST D/ST
(137) Shonn Greene RB
(138) Martellus Bennett TE
(139) Tyler Eifert TE
(140) Malcom Floyd WR
Kendall Wright put up 8.3ppg or so during that time, and was the most useful position player in this group. There were no fantasy starters taken after pick 123 in this draft. If I asked any of these owners if they would take, say, nothing the first eight weeks and 13ppg (with a few stud games in there) the last 8, they’d all hop at the chance at this position. And that’s assuming an almost 20% drop in game-to-game production on Gordon’s part, which isn’t a guarantee. (I am a big believer in regression to the mean, but it’s safe to assume that Hoyer or Manziel will be more effective than whatever the Browns were running out there at the end of last season.)
The other variable in this equation is that we should know how long Gordon will be out before the season begins. So what’s my downside, really? I can hold on to him until we know the duration of the suspension. If it’s too long, I just drop him and go with someone who’s made a name for themselves during the preseason. If he plays eight or more games? It would be like adding a top-tier talent at the trade deadline while spending a minimum of capital in return.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Patterson finished as a WR3 / WR 4 for the whole season. Is that worth a 14th round pick? Fantasy is about evaluating those risks and making a decision. For someone as talented as Gordon, I’m going to make that call every time.
[Update] Per CBS News, Gordon’s year-long suspension has been upheld:
“The league announced Wednesday that arbitrator Harold Henderson upheld Gordon’s suspension, which the Pro Bowler appealed. Gordon met with league officials in New York on Aug. 4 and he and the Browns had been patiently awaiting a resolution.
“Gordon’s suspension is effective immediately and he will have to apply for reinstatement following the season. Gordon is not allowed to practice with the team, attend meetings or other club functions.”
So ya better drop him if you took a flier on him.