Cleveland Browns' Josh Gordon A Fantasy Football Imposter

By kylesoppe
Josh Gordon
Brace Hemmelgard – USATODAY Sports

Take a deep breath.

Seriously. Decompressing is huge in fantasy sports, as too many owners overreact to a mistake and over-correct the problem.

I understand that having Josh Gordon rack up 10 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown on your fantasy bench is extremely frustrating, but please, for the love of all that is good in the world of fantasy sports, do not overreact to this outlier of a performance.

You made the right play. You benched Gordon, a player coming off of a two-game suspension and working with a backup quarterback for player X who had a favorable matchup. The percentages were in your favor, and things simply didn’t work out. Relax, it happens to everyone.

Yes, the Browns traded Trent Richardson during the week and happened to chuck the ball all over the field this weekend, but are we really buying this Cleveland Browns offense as the greatest show in … umm … the dog pound? In a word, no.

Let’s start with why Gordon isn’t your key to fantasy greatness. With Brandon Weeden as his quarterback (and believe it or not, he is still this team’s starting quarterback when healthy) last season, Gordon didn’t record his 10th catch until the middle of Week 6, ironically also the Browns’ first win.

He is a speedster who is capable of the big play (four of his five touchdowns came from at least 33 yards out last season), but he didn’t display a feel for much more (34 percent of his catches came on passes thrown at least 11 yards down field, resulting in 54.9 percent of his yardage total).

Even with the burner at his disposal, Weeden ranked 32nd (for those of you keeping track at home, there are 32 teams in the NFL) in average depth of target (aDOT). In other words, the Browns aren’t overly interested in stretching the field or they aren’t confident in Weeden’s ability to do so; regardless of which it is, it limits Gordon’s long-term upside.

Potentially more damning to Gordon’s future value than anything that happened on Sunday was something that didn’t happen. The Browns failed to open holes for their running backs, something only the elite quarterbacks can overcome to produce big-time numbers and thus top-shelf wide receivers.

Sure, the team totaled 103 yards on 17 carries, but two of those carries went for 56 yards on gadget plays. Defensive back Josh Aubrey led the team in rushing yards (34) while the top two backs on the Browns’ depth chart (Willis McGahee and Bobby Rainey) amassed 26 yards on 12 carries and added only one catch for four yards.

Why do I mention the lack of a true run game? This passing game isn’t electrifying, and if they can’t make opponents at least respect the run, what is going to stop them from pinning their ears back and attacking Weeden? Gordon can run with the best of them, but even a tricked-out sports car can’t get open down field in less than three seconds.

The schedule isn’t going to do the Browns’ offense any favors, and the worsening weather figures to slow down the wheels of Gordon. Don’t be fooled by a 54 percent pass attempt game in a dome against a team that has given up at least 31 points in all three games this season, and while I think Gordon’s skill set is useful in our fantasy world, counting on him as anything more than a WR3 on a weekly basis is a massive mistake.

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