When I was young, I loved watching Saturday morning cartoons. One of the best parts of the weekends was waking up early on Saturday morning, turning on the television set and sitting there for hours enjoying all the great cartoon shows.
Not so long ago, I attempted to recapture this past. I set my alarm for early Saturday morning. I woke up and expected a fantastic experience just like when I was younger. Except it was not fantastic at all. Some will say it’s because I’m older, others may point out the quality of the cartoons has decreased but I knew what it really was: That experience just was never as good as I remembered it.
Sometimes this rings true for things other than cartoons. Sometimes, it even applies to fantasy players. Josh Gordon is a player many will advocate for. They will say he has a high ceiling, they will remember what a top fantasy asset he has been and they will overvalue him.
So why is Josh Gordon like Saturday morning cartoons? To answer that, we first have to analyze Gordon’s numbers.
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Gordon’s rookie season was in 2012. He had a nice rookie year, turning 96 targets into 50 receptions for 806 yards and five touchdowns. After that successful campaign, Gordon followed it up in 2013 with a breakout season. In just 14 games (he missed the first two games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy), he posted 87 receptions for an insane 1,646 receiving yards and nine touchdowns on an astronomical 159 targets. This was the high point of Gordon’s career thus far.
Fantasy owners saw a young WR1 with years of elite fantasy production awaiting him moving forward. Then came 2014. Gordon missed ten games due to a substance abuse suspension, his second failed test. He played in just five games, posting 24 receptions for 303 yards and didn’t find the end zone at all. Even with the small sample size, it was a disappointing showing, as he posted his lowest yards per catch of his career, down a whopping 6.3 yards per catch from his breakout 2013 season.
2015 would prove to be an even worse year: Gordon is suspended by the NFL for a year without pay after testing positive for alcohol use and isn’t eligible to return until the beginning of the 2016 season.
Then, Gordon wasn’t in any better of a spot either. In July 2016, he was reinstated to the NFL. He missed the first four games of the season but was able to see out the 2016 season. Then, in September, soon before he was set to make his long-awaited comeback, he decided to enter a rehab facility in order to gain back control of his life.
Finally, in 2017, the NFL reinstated Josh Gordon. He was able to play in the final five games of the 2017 season but posted a dismal stat line of 18 receptions for 335 yards and one touchdown.
After reviewing the history and numbers of Gordon’s NFL career we have to ask ourselves what we can expect. If you’re drafting with hopes of him living up to his lofty 2013 numbers, that’s probably unreasonable. It’s been five years since Gordon was that elite fantasy asset and even in the limited time he has played, he was not close to that caliber of player.
Gordon’s current ADP is 44, ahead of more proven players like Alshon Jeffery, Golden Tate, and Demaryius Thomas and even ahead of promising young rookies like D.J. Moore, Calvin Ridley, and Christian Kirk. Not only are you spending a fourth round pick on a player who has not played a full season since his rookie year in 2012, you’re also buying someone who has not lived up to that draft position in his most recent play. If you extrapolate Gordon’s stats from the games he played in since 2014 over the course of 16 games, he would have accumulated 156 fantasy points in a PPR format. That fantasy output would have put him as the WR35, hardly worth a fourth round pick.
So what does all this mean? How do we evaluate Gordon moving forward? We evaluate him like Saturday morning cartoons. You’ll always remember them for being great (like his first two seasons in the NFL) but you also know deep down that they are just not as good as you remember them being (Gordon’s career and numbers since his first since NFL seasons).
Don’t be the owner who reaches for Gordon in your draft. Players like Alshon Jeffery and Golden Tate might not be exciting names, but the steady points and reliability of those players will have you smiling on game day.
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Whatever man..Stop letting past mistakes make you make a mistake..Fla⚡h is coming for what belongs to him