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Back in a Flash: Josh Gordon’s reinstatement and what it means to your fantasy team

Gordon’s back, baby

The exciting-but-troubled receiver has been granted conditional reinstatement by the NFL. As per NFL.com, he will be allowed to rejoin the Patriots for individual workouts Sunday; his return to team activities is dependent on his progress in his treatment plan.  

This is great news for a Gronkless Patriots team and its hobbled receiving core (Julian Edelman down with broken thumb; N’Keal Harry hampered by a hamstring; Demaryius Thomas and Cam Meredith on IR; Phillip Dorsett and Maurice Harris leaving practice this week with new injuries).

It’s great for the Patriots, but what does it mean for your fantasy team?

Risers:

Josh Gordon and Gordon Owners

If you were prescient enough to snag Gordon late in a startup this summer, bravo. That 18th or 25th round pick just became a WR3.  

Last year in ten games with the Patriots Josh Gordon put up a 40/720/3 line. His 135 PPR points during this stretch landed him right between Javis Landry and Calvin Ridley on a points-per-game basis.  

If you’re one of the infinitely patient owners that have stashed Gordon through his various suspensions, well, you probably know enough to enjoy this moment, because it may not last long.  

Tom Brady

The biggest beneficiary of Gordon’s reinstatement may well be Tom Brady.  

My friend and fellow DynastyNerd @dynastytools posted this split:

  • 2019 Brady with Gordon- 11 games, 23.35 ppg
  • 2019 Brady without Gordon- 5 games, 19.88 ppg

In 2019, only Patrick Mahomes scored more than 23.35 ppg. Matt Ryan was 2nd in the league with 22.1 ppg.  

No Effect:

Julian Edelman

In 2018, Julian Edelman’s best games all came with Josh Gordon on the field.  This doesn’t hurt him; it could help him, but it’s more likely a neutral situation for Edelman in terms of fantasy production.    

Fallers:

N’Keal Harry

If Gordon can stay unsuspended and get on the field it puts a major dent in Harry’s 2019 outlook. They play a very similar role (Gordon is 6’3” 225lbs, 4.57 40; Harry is 6’4” 225lbs, 4.53 40). This takes the pressure off the Patriots to rush a dinged-up Harry back onto the field. They’ll be more patient with him, and, even when he’s healthy, he and Gordon may well be competing for the same slice of the Patriots target pie. There’s no guarantee that he would join Edelman and Gordon in 3-wide sets if everyone is healthy; that seems more likely to be Meyers’s job.  

In the long term, Harry is fine, but his short-term value is down.  

Phillip Dorsett, Jacoby Meyers, and the Depth Pieces

This is a definite hit for all the deeper guys on the depth chart. While it’s likely Meyers or Dorsett will still see the field in 3-wide sets, Gordon’s talent demands targets. His 2019 market share (adjusted to games played) was 19%. That’s seven targets a game that will no longer go to the Dorsett, Meyers, Matt LaCosse, or any of the other pass catchers on the team.  

Additionally, there were one or two spots at the end of the bench that veterans Maurice Harris and Dontrelle Inman have been fighting for along with younger players like Braxton Berrios and Gunner Olszewski (not to mention Thomas and Meredith, stashed on IR for the time being). One less guy is now making this team; my guess is that it’s one of the vets that are pushed out, as Berrios takes the pressure off Edelman in the return game.

Recommendations:  

First, go check your wires. Gordon may be out there, though he wasn’t in any of my leagues. Even in my redraft league, someone was smart enough to grab him late.  

Should you trade for Gordon? Maybe. He’s certainly a useful piece when he plays, but we never know how many games he’ll be active for. I could see throwing some feelers out there to see if a dubious Gordon owner will sell cheap, but, right now, that owner is likely looking for maximum value.  

If you’re the Gordon owner, a strong argument can be made that you should ride this wave of hype and trade him. This might be his peak value. We could hear in a week that he’s failed to follow through on some aspect of his agreement and he’s been shut back down. He’s one of the most volatile assets in fantasy football, and it could be wise to offload him for a more dependable piece. If you can get a low-end WR2 for him or a good draft pick, this might be the time to move.  

This has made me very happy for the few Brady shares I have. With this revitalized receiving core, Brady could well rise from the ashes of last year’s QB14 finish. I would draft him with one of my last picks in redraft; if I’m a QB-needy superflex contender, I would take a look at acquiring him as my QB2 or 3. He should still be cheap, and he should at least match his 2018 finish. He already had positive regression coming his way, and Gordon should swing that a bit further.  

Don’t forget, Gronk was at least as much of an asset in the run game as he was to the passing game, and his bulldozing lead blocking is irreplaceable. 

Take a look at moving any Brady shares. Again, this might be the peak value for a declining asset. If he comes out in week three of the preseason and tosses two TDs in fifteen minutes, I’m going to see if I can profit.  

If you’re a Harry owner in dynasty, relax. You didn’t draft him to start this year anyway, did you? This could be a good buy-low window for him, but I’m sure he’s still going to be tough to pry away from the managers that drafted him at 1.01 or 1.04.  

He’s now undraftable in redraft, but if something happens with Gordon or Edelman, Harry will be a great waiver pickup.  

The better buy opportunity for dynasty players will be Jacoby Meyers. That hype train is about to crash into a brick wall made of Josh Gordon’s abs. I could see him hitting the wire in some leagues, and I still see him as a player with both immediate and long term value. He’s a talented dude on a great offense, and he could be a great replacement if Edelman moves on.  

Speaking of Edelman, there might be a great buy opportunity there as well. If you can snatch Edelman from a panicky owner at a discount, go get him.   

Fantasy folk, go forth and win!

And to Josh Gordon- keep up the good work. We love seeing you out there, keep doing what you gotta do to stay healthy!

Thank you for reading. Get more great content – consensus rankings, buy/sell too, extra podcasts and more by joining the #NerdHerd. For just the price of a cup of coffee, just $2.99 a month. Hit me up on twitter @EKBaller and let me know what you think.

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