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Fantasy Football: The case for Josh Gordon as the No. 1 WR

Ricky Sanders Staff Writer April 3, 2014 3:31PM EDT
Here is my take on a couple of major offseason moves along with a Fantasy dilemma for next season:

The case for Josh Gordon as the No. 1 WR

Second year WR Josh Gordon exploded in 2013 and has made a case for being the top drafted Fantasy WR. Source: RotoExperts Archives

Second year WR Josh Gordon exploded in 2013 and has made a case for himself to be the top drafted Fantasy WR. Source: RotoExperts Archives

Everyone loves Calvin Johnson and for good reason. Megatron is the ultimate combination of size and speed for a wide receiver so it’s easy to identify why he’s so dominant. His size makes for the perfect target in the red zone which further proves why there is little downside to potential owners. Furthermore, he is one year removed from maybe the greatest season ever for a receiver.

So why would you pass on him? Well, for one, wide receivers deteriorate at a steep rate once they start to get up there in age. Calvin will only be 28 years old next season but you can calculate NFL years similar to dog years: one human year equals about eight football years.  Even a large man can only take so much beating before he falls apart. He very well could be over the hump and now has Golden Tate around to share some of the targets.

The real reason you would pass on Calvin wouldn’t be due to his downside but rather the upside of one Josh Gordon. Having spent much of last season with Brandon Weeden at the helm, Gordon still put up 1,646 yards and nine TDs. Gordon even missed the first two games of the season because he was suspended. He finished first among receivers in receptions of 20-plus yards, 40-plus yards and Fantasy points per game. Incredibly, his 1,646 yards led all of football even though he played a few less games than most of the other elites. Classifying him as the most efficient player in football certainly wouldn’t be a farfetched statement. Next season, Gordon will presumably have either a healthy Brian Hoyer back or Cleveland will draft a quarterback with the fourth overall pick. Either way, his quarterback situation will only improve and likely rather drastically (it would be pretty difficult to get any worse). Additionally, Ben Tate should stabilize the running game which could take some pressure off the 22-year-old stud WR. The sky is the ceiling for Gordon. At his ripe young age, he could actually be getting better. Seeing Josh Gordon’s name on the “available players” list in your draft will be hard to pass on.

Still, I wouldn’t pass on Calvin Johnson. He is just too dominant. Although he is not a youngster anymore, some of the best receivers of all time have seen success at his age and older. Comparing him to the best player of all time isn’t 100 percent fair but Jerry Rice produced six consecutive 1,000 yard/10-plus TD seasons after his age 27 season. Randy Moss had 98 receptions, 1,493 yards and record-breaking 23 rec TDs at age 30. Calvin still has plenty of good football left and there’s still not a strong enough argument against him for me to pass. Josh Gordon is incredible but Calvin Johnson still holds to the top spot for me at Fantasy WR.

DeSean Jackson signs with the Redskins

There seems to be a variety of differing opinions about how the Redskins offense will look with DeSean Jackson added to the equation. Some predict Pierre Garcon’s role to expand while others think this is Fantasy doom for him. Potent offenses never scare me away, as the team probably will just score more points and increase production all around. Usually, analysts say things like “adding an additional piece will help take the double teams off” for receivers already on the team. In this case, there is no denying Garcon saw consistent double and triple coverage because Robert Griffin III hardly looked for anyone else. This is one of the rare occasions where Jackson truly will make a difference in opening up space for Garcon. Jordan Reed did a nice job of helping provide space until suffering a season ending concussion. Jackson’s arrival combined with Reed’s return spell greener pastures for Garcon.

Jackson’s outlook on the Redskins is a bit blurrier. On the Eagles, Jackson was used to acting as the team’s primary deep threat. Before last season, Garcon himself acted as a one trick pony by running a majority of fly patterns. Remember that game in 2011, when Garcon caught two passes from Curtis Painter but both were TDs of over 59 yards? Yeah, Garcon can catch the home run ball with the best of them. Jackson will have to adjust in order to fit in. Red zone looks will likely head in the direction of Reed or Garcon for the most part. Jackson will serve as a long ball specialist in an offense with a long ball specialist on staff. Therefore, his production will be sporadic at best. He will always be the kind of Fantasy player who can single-handedly carry your team for a week but will also have the potential to dud. This split will only be magnified on the Redskins and he will be frustrating to own. If you draft him, trade him after his first monster week when the value is high. Overall, he will probably finish higher than he seemed because the big plays will account for two weeks’ worth of stats. On this offense, he is a high-end WR3 with potential for more if he develops a rapport with Griffin III. To be fair, Griffin III has an incredibly accurate arm on the deep ball, which has led to success for guys like Anthony Armstrong and Leonard Hankerson. It will be interesting to see how/if Jackson meshes with the offense but my recommendation would be to tread reasonably lightly.

Titans are expected to release Chris Johnson

From C-J-2-K to C-J-F-A (free agent); the mighty have fallen. Johnson fell out of favor with many Fantasy owners last season and now Titans management has followed suit. The only other running backs on the Titans roster are Shonn Greene, Dexter McCluster (kind of) and Jackie Battle. Presumably, the Titans will look for a new starting running back in this year’s NFL Draft. Someone like Tre Mason could be a nice fit in Tennessee.

Rumor is the New York Jets have interest in Johnson. Apparently Chris Ivory’s health isn’t a sure enough bet for John Idzik (sarcasm). Just what the Jets need is another mediocre back. The allure from Chris Johnson is in the name but he has proven in back-to-back seasons he isn’t the back he once was. With that being said, 1,000-plus yards is nothing to snarl at, as he could be a useful Fantasy low-end number two back or high-end number three. Last year marked the fifth consecutive season of over 300 touches and the sixth consecutive with at least 294. His 3.9 yards per carry were a career low last season so be careful as he may be on the downturn of his career.


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