The New England Patriots could use some reinforcements on the receiving corps, and fantasy football managers would love to have more to be optimistic about in that offense. Both wishes got a boost over the weekend as WR Josh Gordon reportedly applied for reinstatement from his indefinite suspension, according to ProFootballTalk.
Gordon played 11 games with the Patriots in 2018 after an early-season trade from the Browns. In that time (Weeks 4-15), Gordon caught 40 of 64 targets for 720 yards and 3 touchdowns, good for 130.0 PPR points, the PPR WR28 over that span. The Patriots receiving corps (receivers and tight ends) for 2019 is a mishmash right now after Julian Edelman, with rookie N’Keal Harry, question-mark veterans Demaryius Thomas, Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris, Dontrelle Inman, and Cameron Meredith, and tight ends Benjamin Watson, Matt LaCosse, Lance Kendricks, and Stephen Anderson. If you think that’s a lot of names without much certainty … you’re right.
Edelman and running back James White should be the unquestioned top two targets in this offense. But Gordon, if he’s available to the team, will offer a method of attack the Patriots don’t really have otherwise. Gordon had an average depth of target of 13.5 yards with the Patriots last year and averaged 11.3 yards per target, both largest on the team (comfortably so over any returning options). He also had three receptions of 40-plus yards, more than anyone else on the roster, and had a 75.3 PFF receiving grade, also best of all the receivers/tight ends on the roster who were in the league last year.
All this means that an active Gordon would be a definite boon, both to the Patriots (and Tom Brady) and to fantasy managers looking to divine something of value from the New England morass. The downside is that the league is under no pressure to act quickly on Gordon’s application for reinstatement. It’s possible we could see him in Week 1, it’s possible we could see him in Week 10, it’s possible we could see him in 2020, and it’s possible we could never see him again. Such is the world of Josh Gordon’s fantasy stock.
On the other hand, Gordon is essentially free in drafts right now. Per Fantasy Football Calculator ADP, he’s available in the 180s overall in drafts, one of the last few players before the run on kickers and defenses. A common strategy these days in fantasy is to forgo drafting a kicker and/or defense altogether, instead taking an extra skill player to add depth to your roster and let training camp sort things out, after which you drop your least valuable player for the kicker or defense right before Week 1. That is more or less the perfect setup for Gordon in 2019. If he’s available within the last three or four rounds of your draft, there’s almost literally no risk in taking him and seeing if news develops.
Give it a shot. But don’t drop anyone of value to keep Gordon if and when it comes to it.