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Josh Gordon: The Next Dez Bryant?

Josh_Gordon3

In one of the worst keep secrets on twitter as of late, the Josh Gordon two game suspension finally came down this week. One of the main goals in dynasty fantasy football is to draft a player before they hit the level of superstardom and this setback may just be the final little push some owners needed in their quest to acquire him via trade or draft him cheaply in a start-up. After all, anyone can spend a first round pick on a player who is already a superstar – real value comes from drafting someone before they become elite. If you can spend a sixth round pick on a player who will become a star, you will create much more value than spending a first round pick on someone who is already a star. The first couple of rounds are filled with top-notch players and it is almost predictable when they will be drafted. There is much more strategy, though, in the following rounds to find future stars. Instead of seeing a player with an ADP of #7 overall being selected as high as #4, you may see a fantasy general manager select a player with an ADP of #50 overall being selected as high as #34. Identifying your guy, then trading up, trading back, or reaching to acquire him is essential to the strategy of building a fantasy football franchise.

Dez Bryant was a player being drafted in the middle rounds the past couple years. Since then, his value has increased in fantasy GM’s minds enough to place him in the late first to early second round range in twelve team leagues and almost certainly in the first round in sixteen team leagues. Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, and Julio Jones are all being drafted ahead of Bryant. What makes Bryant stand out from that group? The fact that he was not a top-six NFL draft pick and was considered more of a wild card by NFL teams and fantasy owners alike. Bryant wasn’t drafted until Pick #24 in the NFL Draft after the Cowboys traded up three spots to select him. Over the past few years, fantasy general managers did not have to spend a very high draft pick on Bryant, either. This year, that will not be the case.

Being from the Washington D.C. area, I grew up hating the Cowboys. Despite that fact, I put my fandom aside when it comes to fantasy football. Tony Romo has taken me to a couple championships, while DeMarco Murray helped me win my local dynasty league last year. Personally, I believe Bryant has received an unfair label in regards to his off the field and character issues. The only quarrel I have with Bryant is the jersey he wears. Other than that, he is a legitimate superstar (no pun intended).

In October of 2009, Bryant was ruled ineligible to continue his Junior season for the Oklahoma State Cowboys, because he lied about meeting Deion Sanders. A month later, he declared for the NFL draft. In his rookie season with Dallas, Bryant saw 72 targets, hauling in 45 of them for 561 yards and 12.5 average yards per catch. He added six touchdowns to his stat line before fracturing his ankle in week 13 against the Indianapolis Colts. Averaging those numbers over a full and healthy season, he would have seen 89 targets, 55 catches for 690 yards and seven touchdowns.

Since Bryant’s rookie season, his fantasy numbers have increased each year. In 2010, Bryant recorded 103 targets, 63 receptions, 928 yards, and nine touchdowns. Last year, his stats elevated once again. In 2012, he tallied 138 targets, 92 catches, 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns, ranking him as the third best wide receiver in fantasy football.

Since you will not be able to draft Bryant in the middle rounds this year, you should ask yourself, “who will be the next bargain superstar wide receiver?” In my opinion, it is unquestionably Josh Gordon.

I am a sucker for “measurables,” and the comparisons between Gordon and Bryant are glaring.

Dez Bryant

Josh Gordon

Height

6’2”

6’3”

Weight (Pounds)

220

225

Arm Length

34”

33.3”

Hand Size

9.75”

10”

40 Yard Dash (Seconds)

4.52

4.52

Rookie Year Target/Gm

6

5.93

Rookie Year Rec/Gm

3.75

3.13

Rookie Year Yd/Gm

46.75

50.31

Rookie Year TD

6

5

Gordon’s body is practically a clone of Bryant’s. They both are tall, muscular, fast, prototypical NFL receivers, but that’s not where the similarities end. You must compare Gordon’s first season with Bryant’s rookie season to see the similarities so you can project what Gordon will be in his sophomore year and beyond.  Their rookie years are as astonishingly similar as their body type. They both were targeted about six times per game in their debut seasons. Gordon’s catch per target was slightly less than Bryant’s, which you can attribute to having a sub-par quarterback in Brandon Weeden. When Bryant joined the league, Romo was already entrenched as the starter for the Dallas Cowboys. Gordon’s yards per catch are superior to Bryant’s rookie season’s yards per catch as well. Gordon averaged over 50 yards per game and had 12 catches of 20+ yards. Bryant averaged slightly less yards per game, and had just eight catches of 20+ yards as a rookie. So in many ways, Gordon had the better rookie season.

His quarterback situation should not scare you, either. He put up serviceable numbers despite his imperfect signal caller. Brandon Weeden should improve along with the Cleveland Browns offense, as made evident by the second half of the season. Weeden improved his completion percentage to over 55% in each of his last six games. Trent Richardson will continue to see eight man boxes, which should guarantee Gordon single man coverage for most of his foreseeable career.

Projecting a player’s career in the NFL is a flawed objective by even the greatest NFL general managers. If those GM’s do not accomplish their goal every time, how do we as fantasy GM’s? Gathering as much information about specific players you want to target is vital. If you see Gordon still available in the fifth or sixth round of your start-up, don’t hesitate to enhance your receiving corps. If you’re in an established league, capitalize on Gordon’s embryonic value, and make a trade for him.

Follow me on Twitter: @karlsafchick

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sean mcguigan
8 years ago

He’s talented but no way in dez league and I am sorry Weeden scares the crap out of me, in fact I am pretty sure they will be hitting reset botton at QB after this year…..throw in two games suspension somewhat troubled past and rumblings out of Cleveland that they ware worried about him, no great second option(Greg little is not it) and I see a lot of issues…..he could overcome it all as he very tale enter and if you can get cheap that is fine

Eric
Reply to  sean mcguigan
8 years ago

I don’t like Greg Little all that much either, but Richardson’s run game will keep defenses honest, and I’d venture to say that Jordan Cameron will be the 2nd option when it comes to the passing game.

Ryan Krcil
Reply to  sean mcguigan
8 years ago

Even if they “hit the reset button on the qb position” it still looks like there is quiet a bit of talent coming out next year. I like the comparison and think that if you want to get the next Dez you have to be open minded and see the similarities between the two.

Delco
Reply to  sean mcguigan
8 years ago

Smcguiga, you cant say that he isnt in Dez’s league, thats just a terrible statement by you. If you remember back a few years, everyone was down on Dez and said “he had the physical attributes and the talent to be a star, but he probably will waste his potential” He underperformed and most people werent on the Dez hype train for a while there; then what happened, he blew up. Talent over situation (as always). This is a perfect comparison to Josh Gordon-who as the article states, he even had a better rookie year than Dez. I would be buying in all leagues, especially if you can get him cheap now. In dynasty, you are always looking for the next big thing, and if you ask me, I think Gordon has all the tools and more tools than the other young WR in the league to become a star. I prefer him over the likes of Jeffrey, Floyd, Blackmon, Shorts, Wright etc. Doesnt everyone??

sean mcguigan
Reply to  Delco
8 years ago

Delco, I think risk outweighs upside and browns have already indicated they are very concerned with him…..my gut says this kid can’t stay out of trouble and sits a year….then who knows what happens a year a way with a troubled kid could be disaster…you think differently which is fine I wouldn’t be buying him unless I got unreal value is all not sure why that is deemed “terrible statement” by you as many seem to agree with me…good luck with flash

Bradsdaman
8 years ago

I’ve got him in my main league, I just hope he isn’t Kenny Britt (always suspended).

lostcause
Reply to  Bradsdaman
8 years ago

I’m curious. When was the last time Britt was suspended?

Mike Ditka
Reply to  lostcause
8 years ago

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/titans/story/2012-08-30/kenny-britt-suspended/57450160/1

1 week last yr. Owners figured it was a good thing to let his knee(s) rest.

He was arrested or at least had ties with the law over and over and for all we know Goodell is likely to give a full yr suspension for all the repeat headaches.

Kurt Wille
8 years ago

If he screws up again it’s a year suspension. I’m passing but I can understand the allure of the possible big-time reward vs. the known risks.

Josh
Reply to  Kurt Wille
8 years ago

No it won’t be. It’s only 2 games because the league knows its a bs suspension in the first place. Dumb mistake by Gordon for not knowing that was in the prescribed cough medicine, but bs none the less. The Browns aren’t worried about him and neither are most fans. He learned a lesson and will go on to be a terrific receiver.

jeff hemlick
8 years ago

I am still a buyer!!!!

8 years ago

I have the same concerns as Bradsdaman. He’s getting the Britt whiff on him. I drafted him in an auction start-up for fairly big money, but I admit I’m nervous about the threat of a year suspension hanging over his head.

I haven’t seen many trades on him lately but I doubt there are any steals to be had. People are going to hold on him given the potential. Even though I’m nervous, I’m not trading him.

J2
Reply to  Tim Stafford
8 years ago

I traded CJ Spiller and Dwayne Bowe for Matthew Stafford and Josh Gordon. People tell me I got raked over the coals but I believe Gordon can even this deal out pretty quickly if he breaks out like I believe he will. His stats were unreal considering he hadn’t played football in over a year and came into a bad offense.

People underestimate the effect Norv Turner will have on that offense this season. I expect a 1000 yard season with at least 8 TDs.

BigD
Reply to  J2
8 years ago

i would say you got raped over the coals on that one? spiller is a top 10 pick overall and is worth more then stafford and gordon combined. stafford is a low tier #1 qb. gordon is a #3 wr and bowe is a #2wr. thats the way i see it. i maybe wrong but i dont think so…..that 1000 yds and 8 tds will be in reach for bowe in andy reids offense also. and spiller could be a top overall scorer?

J2
Reply to  BigD
8 years ago

I am not sold on Spiller for some reason outside of last year he was a no show for the most part. Also not convinced he can carry the load full time. But I went for the youth of Gordon and the EXTREME need for a QB. The bigger point was Gordon can make this deal even out pretty quickly in my eyes if he puts up similiar numbers to Dez.

As for Stafford he through for 4900 yards, his problem were INTs and a lack of TDs which I believe is an aberration.

BigD
8 years ago

love him 6 3 225 runs like a deer, big hands, good hands, focus of a passing game that works off trent richardson….whats not to like. young , i got him cheap.($1, undrafted rookie freeagent, only had to give him a $2 raise to resign him this year…) if you can get him do it. he was only suspended for codiene in cough syrup??? give me a break. the nfl is gunning for a lawsuit if they keep that up? granted he has a couple of mjwanna issues, but that was college and hope he has grownup some from it?

Bennie Blades
Reply to  BigD
8 years ago

The purple drink ain’t nothing to f#ck with.

Todd Ransom
8 years ago

This was a great article, and as someone who owns both players in multiple leagues I couldn’t agree more. I saw the similarities when Gordon was coming out, and as someone mentioned out we need to keep in mind a bunch of people were calling Dez a guy who would never maximize his talent as recent as week 8 of last year.

The one glaring difference right now is that Gordon is one slip up away from a suspension. That much risk was never attached to Dez. He’s never gotten a dui, failed a drug test, or gotten suspended any games. It’s a whole different type of risk when you are talking about missing a year of football and he’s only in year 2.

That said, I’m still a buyer especially if this makes the cost cheaper. The measurables, physical attributes, and upside is off the charts. What he did with a below average QB, as a rookie, coming off a year out of football was highly impressive. Cleveland will have a new QB soon enough and at the age Gordon is at he offers top 10 upside once he hits his prime and a fantasy difference maker. I’m always willing to gamble on these types at the right price.

Reply to  Todd Ransom
8 years ago

Well said.

Fred
8 years ago

Since he was taken in the NFL supplemental draft, I woke up various hours of the morning to check if CBS added him to the player pool. Picked him up at 2:30 am. I believe all the lost hours of sleep was worth it. The addition of Norv Turner to the staff will help Gordon’s growth ala Vincent Jackson.

Robert Abele
8 years ago

It is pretty funny how short some fantasy owner’s memories are. After Dez did not put up top-10 numbers the 1st two years, there was a large amount people on this board ready to dump him for considerably less talent. i remember one particular thread where someone said they would consider Laurent Robinson for him ( who truly benefited from single coverage that Dez afforded him no less!) and made a ridiculous rant about how Robinson outplayed Dez. These are the very owners I love playing against though, the ones who actually have to see the production before they become believers because it allows the owners who try to evaluate skill and talent to get these players at a discount before they actually blow up as the article states. Now, those owners would have to pay through the nose to get Dez.

This article is a great lesson on being ahead of the curve. Those owners that stood by Dez and believed in his TALENT are now reaping the rewards.

I personally have been buying Gordon for a while now and this article only cements those sentiments.

Thanks for the read!

Alex in Tulsa
8 years ago

I was offered Keenan Allen & Josh Gordon for Lamar Miller. Miller would be my RB3 or RB4 where we start 1-3 RB’s. Thoughts?

Mike Ditka
Reply to  Alex in Tulsa
8 years ago

sounds like u need the balance of miller on your squad. Find another route to score Gordon if hes your goal.

Ira
8 years ago

No way

Scott Peak
8 years ago

Loved the article Karl. I acquired Gordon in two leagues right before the suspension news came down. I have to admit, I get nervous about players who demonstrate immaturity off the field. I’ve basically removed Britt from my draft list for those reasons, and I won’t trade for him either. It doesn’t seem entirely clear to me why Gordon has reached stage 2 of the NFL drug program. Yeah, he made some dumb decisions in college, but that shouldn’t count against his NFL standing. Either he missed or flunked a drug test, but I don’t recall hearing anything that would have gotten him into the stage 1 of NFL drug testing. It’s hard for me to imagine he is at greater risk for a year-long suspension than Kenny Britt, and that’s what bothers me. I also think his reason for testing positive for codeine is weak, and I suspect he was using codeine for less honorable reasons (ie Purple Drank as noted by Bennie Blades above). I want to believe he took codeine cough syrup for strep throat, but strep throat, while not comfortable, usually doesn’t require codeine cough syrup. Over the counter Robitussin is typically sufficient to suppress the cough. But even if it is true, he should have known better than to take something with a banned substance, especially so if he was already in stage 1 of the NFL substance abuse program. Or, his agent should have told him. I’ll still be keeping him as my WR3 on both teams, but I’m not encouraged thus far.

Chris R.
Reply to  Scott Peak
8 years ago

He’s from Texas, so everybody knows the real reason it was in his system to begin with. But like you, I’m curious as to how he can be closer to a year suspension then Kenny Britt is. Just seems really strange. Even if he did start his career into stage 1, what stage did Blackmon start in? He got a DUI before he even signed, and then had another slip up, he also had a DUI in college. So unless there are parts of the story unclear, seems to be a mystery how he accelerated past guys with more issues running into trouble.

sean mcguigan
Reply to  Chris R.
8 years ago

there is more here than has been reported and yes Browns ARE concerned about him this has come out through team sources a couple of times

Rice
Reply to  Chris R.
8 years ago

Codeine is not what they us to make “Purple drank”. promethazine.

good2bking
8 years ago

Prior to the Blackmon suspension, I traded Dez for Gordon, Blackmon and Ben Tate in 32-team (w/copies) PPR dynasty. So thanks for the article and making me feel a little better about the trade. I’m still fairly weary about the drug issues with those two WRs. And I don’t buy Gordon’s story for a second.

Verbal
8 years ago

Let’s take a look at the receivers taken last year that are comparable to Dez Bryant.

1. Justin Blackmon (6’1 207) I know he is suspended, but so is the next Dez Bryant and so was the real Dez Bryant. This guy can play. He had huge games with Henne at QB and how many of us really expect Blaine Gabbert to be a Jacksonville Jaguar next year? Give him a passer and he’ll give you elite stats. He’s the next Dez.

2. Michael Floyd (6’3 225) What’s not to like here? I know Carson Palmer is no Brady, but he is a billion times better than Kolb or Skelton. They will be behind almost every game and he has Fitzgerald to learn from and to take all the coverage. He’s the next Dez.

3. A.J. Jenkins (6’0 192) Someone has to play receiver in San Fran now that Crabtree snap, crackle, popped his achilles and who better than AJ? The vision of Colin K running wild is still fresh in the minds of many a defense and I’m sure they will bring a safety in the box to insure that doesn’t happen again…Perfect storm for AJ. He’s the next Dez.

4. Brian Quick (6’4 220) All I’ve heard about from Rams camp is how impressive Brian Quick has been. Apparantly, he finally figured out the play book. Sam Bradford finally has some consistancy in coaching and speed demons Austin and Givins in the slot. Jared Cook takes a safety away and you got Quick all by himself on the outside. He’s the next Dez.

5. Alshon Jeffrey (6’3 216) He’s number 2. He has coverage magnet Brandon Marshall on the other side and Jay “I can fit that in there” Cutler throwing him the ball. Chock full o’ talent and supposedly in great shape. He’s the next Dez.

6. Rueben Randle (6’2 208) Kevin Gilbride loves him some Rueben (Randle and the sandwiches) Cruz will be in the slot and oft injured Nicks is on one side…Randle gets the other. With Cruz and Nicks not reporting to camp yet it gives Randle that much more time to build chemistry with Eli…and Eli’s last name is Manning, so that can’t hurt either. He’s the next Dez.

7. Mohamed Sanu (6’2 210) Cincinatti’s offense is coming together. Dalton is steady, Green is unstoppable, and they have two tight ends that can catch the ball. This leaves Sanu in a favorable position. There might be some competition for balls, but he will get open. He’s the next Dez.

8. Tommy Streeter ( 6’5 220) Anquan Boldin has left the building. Torrey Smith is more of the straightline second receiver mold. Streeter is perfectly built to take Boldin’s place. Flacco is no Kurt Warner by any stretch, but if you can get close to a young Q Boldin’s numbers, wouldn’t you take a chance? He is the next Dez.

Point is, if you drafted these guys hold on to them… at least for three years. If you can trade for these guys and get them on the cheap, do it. They all have a chance to be the next Dez, trust me cause I knew Dez was gonna be Dez three years ago.

Jimmy
7 years ago

Just reading this on Sept 19 post Trent Richardson trade. Would you guys trade Randall Cobb and a 4th round draft pick for Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown and a 1st rounder?

Gordon has a nice cheap salary. In my league salaries increase 20% every year and I have Cobb on a 1 year deal anyway. My wideouts are Roddy White, Sanders, Randle, and Marlon Brown. No IDP, so after the first, there is a massive talent drop off in the rookie drafts.

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