News & Analysis

Fantasy 5: Don't expect too much, too fast out of Josh Gordon

Nov 26, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

(The Fantasy 5 is a quick-hit wrap-up of some of the biggest news topics of the day for fantasy football players, giving you advice you need to set your lineup or pick your DFS roster.)

We’re back at it again for this week’s Fantasy 5, focusing on the key things you need to know entering Week 13. Whether you’re researching information for your season-long leagues or trying to narrow down your DFS player pool, there’s generally something for everyone featured here. Here’s a look at the some of the more interesting pieces of fantasy news to know heading into the weekend games.

1. We should temper expectations for Josh Gordon’s debut

After a three-year hiatus from the league, Cleveland WR Josh Gordon makes his long-anticipated return this Sunday in Week 13. Gordon was an electrifying athlete, when as a 22-year-old he put up a whopping 87-1,646-9 stat line. I’ll be rooting for him to succeed, but I think we need to pump the brakes a little bit on our expectations for him in his debut. He’s three years removed from the game and playing on a struggling Cleveland team that must travel west and play against a very stout Chargers secondary. Gordon draws a tough matchup against CB Trevor Williams, who ranks top-15 in lowest passer rating when targeted (66.4). His 0.17 fantasy points per route covered ranks seventh-best among all cornerbacks. Gordon will also be vying for targets against sophomore breakout Corey Coleman, who’s seen target totals of 11 and 8 since returning from injury. He also has yet to form any type of real chemistry with DeShone Kizer with lack of practices under his belt. Gordon will be a player I’ll be rooting for on Sunday, but from a fantasy perspective, he draws a very tough matchup and won’t be starting in any of my lineups.

2. Ty Montgomery to IR — how should dynasty owners react?

Things change fast in the NFL. It wasn’t that long ago that Montgomery was getting David Johnson-type comparisons for his ability to thrive as both a runner and receiver. The Packers ended his season on Friday by placing him on injured reserve, and it raises the question — what next? Montgomery was an attractive dynasty asset due to his versatility, explosiveness, and hyper-efficiency. Bruised ribs and a wrist injury aren’t changing those traits about him, but it is opening a door for the Packers to see what they have in Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. If I’m looking to acquire Montgomery, I’d wait until after this week with the cupcake matchup they have against the Buccaneers. If Williams and/or Jones looks particularly strong in this outing, Montgomery owners may be willing to part ways with him for a mid-second-round draft pick. I’m personally holding him everywhere I have him, as the traits he possesses makes him a potential fantasy superstar anytime he hits the field. The Packers backfield could be a mess in 2018, but Montgomery will be in the final year of his contract in 2018 and could find himself starting elsewhere as a do-it-all back.

3. Injury returns

TyMo isn’t the only injury that is news worthy this week. Instead of focusing on who’s out, here’s a couple of guys returning to their teams this week who are fantasy significant:

  • Devonta Freeman returns after clearing concussion protocol this week. He’s historically fared quite well when playing at home in Atlanta, and his return makes Tevin Coleman a flex dart throw.
  • Jameis Winston’s return should raise the potential ceiling of both Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson this week. The Packers secondary is no stranger to giving up big passing outings, and we should see these receivers capitalize with Winston back in the fold.
  • Sterling Shepard looks to make his return after spending the last couple games out with a migraine. Geno Smith will need all the help he can get when he makes his debut.
  • Finally, Rishard Matthews could be back for a full-time role this week after getting in a practice on Friday. The Titans passing attack could use a boost from Matthews play in their divisional matchup with the Texans this weekend.

4. Low Vegas game totals this week

Touchdowns could be at a premium this week. The projected two highest-scoring games of the week are New England at Buffalo and Carolina at New Orleans, both projected for a game total of 48 points. 13 teams are implied to score 21 or fewer points. It looks like there can be a real edge to be gained here if we can accurately project which teams have the highest potential for touchdowns. If Trevor Siemian can right the ship and the Broncos’ passing attack, they have a high probability of finishing drives for touchdowns. Miami ranks 32nd in highest percentage of red-zone trips converted into touchdowns (75.0 percent). The Browns are right behind them at 74.2, making Melvin Gordon an interesting contrarian option this week. The Packers rank third in this category at a nice 69 percent, which makes me want to increase my Mike Evans exposure a bit more. Targeting teams that allow an increased number in red-zone trips and a high probability of converting those opportunities into touchdowns could be a profitable move this week.

5. PFF Grade of the Week: Aaron Donald

Through 12 weeks, our highest-graded interior defender is the Los Angeles Rams’ Donald. The young NFL star has already made a name for himself as one of the most disruptive interior defensive lineman in the game, and his PFF grade is accurately reflecting that. Donald has been a sublime pass-rusher this season. Among all interior defenders, he ranks T-third in sacks (7), fifth in quarterback hits (10), and first in hurries (45). His combination of all three leads the entire league in total pressures (62), but this isn’t just a pure volume statistic where he’s racking these up just on the large number of snaps played. Donald also leads all interior defenders in pass-rushing productivity, a rating that measures pressures created on a per-snap basis with weighting toward sacks. Donald also led the league in this productivity grade last season, and it’s refreshing to see him continue to flourish despite the change in defensive coordinator and scheme this past offseason.

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