Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was suspended for the first two game of this season for violating the league’s drug policy, but he rewarded fantasy football owners who drafted him and held onto him with elite level production. He hit the ground running with 10 receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3, and he has 80 catches for a league-leading 1,564 yards (a league-best 19.6 yards per catch) and nine touchdowns in 13 games this season.
As he wraps up a breakout 2013 season on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, could Gordon finish making a case to be the first wide receiver drafted in fantasy leagues next year?
Gordon was the subject of trade rumors early in the season, but wound up staying with the Browns and was able to produce at a consistent level despite a unstable quarterback situation. His big games against Pittsburgh in Week 12 (14 receptions for 237 yards and a touchdown) and the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 13 (10 catches for 261 yards and two touchdowns) certainly grabbed the most attention, but Gordon has topped 60 receiving yards in a game 11 times this season and he has at least four catches in 10 of his 13 games. He had his most productive run at the most critical time for his fantasy owners (45 receptions for 938 yards and six touchdowns from Week 11-Week 16), including a touchdown in the first five of those six games and over 100 combined yards (97 receiving yards, 22 rushing yards) in Week 16.
Next summer Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall, along with possibly a few others, will be in the conversation to be the first wide receiver off the board in fantasy drafts. Since another off-field indiscretion, at least in terms of the league’s substance policies, would yield a longer suspension than he had to start this season, Gordon is a riskier option than any of the aforementioned receivers and that will put him at best in the latter of half of my top 10 wide receivers for 2014.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.