With 22 wide receivers going for over 1,000 yards last season, there is no shortage of quality WRs to draft this season. If you add guys like Dez Bryant, Jordy Nelson, Alshon Jeffery, Kelvin Benjamin, Randall Cobb, Michael Floyd, Golden Tate, and Donte Moncrief (all fell short of 1,000 yards due to injuries or other factors), there are about 30 WRs who project to have 1,000 yard seasons.
So, when looking for the best receivers to target, you have to aim high. A 1,000 yard, six touchdown season is rather commonplace nowadays. Who are some guys going in the middle rounds who could absolutely explode, similar to Allen Robinson last year?
Devante Parker in Miami, Donte Moncrief in Indy, and Tyler Lockett in Seattle are all potential candidates. However, these WRs are on almost every experts breakout list, and their ADPs have been all been steadily going upward. They have all been going around rounds 5-8, making them a little less of a bargain.
There are plenty of WRs that offer great value where they’re being selected. Allen Robinson (ADP 15) and Brandon Marshall (ADP 18) are great second round picks. Brandin Cooks (ADP 27) and Sammy Watkins (ADP 30) are great third round picks.
There is one receiver being drafted between the sixth and ninth round that could be better than all of those guys though. I’m talking about Josh Gordon, the most polarizing player in Fantasy Football this season. I’m not only on the Josh Gordon bandwagon, I’m driving it. Josh Gordon is my Must Draft Wide Receiver.
Must Draft Wide Receiver
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns (ADP 102)
While Gordon’s ADP is 102, as the season grows closer, you’re not going to get him at that price. At least one other team in your league will be drooling over his potential. In smaller leagues, you should be able to get him in round seven or eight. In larger leagues, you’ll likely have to take him in round six.
Gordon’s gap between his ceiling and floor is wider than the Grand Canyon. His ceiling is the No. 1 player in Fantasy Football over the last 12 weeks of the season, following his four game suspension. His floor is never playing in the NFL again if he decides to smoke a joint, or go out drinking.
Before examining Gordon’s off the field issues, let us remember just how gifted this guy is. Gordon is an elite natural athlete. In high school, he was a football, basketball, and track star. He was 6’3″, 225 pounds, running a 4.4 40 yard dash coming out of high school.
Gordon really only played one season of college ball at Baylor before getting kicked off the team for repeated marijuana violations. He transferred to Utah for his junior season. He never played a snap there, and entered the 2012 supplementary draft.
Gordon was so talented the Browns gave up a second round pick to get him, despite his off field issues and limited playing experience. The gamble paid off well, as Gordon had a solid rookie season, and then he emerged as the best receiver in the NFL in his second season at the age of 22.
In 2013, Gordon had one of the greatest receiving seasons we’ve ever seen. Despite missing the first two games of the season due to suspension, Gordon still led the league in receiving with 1,646 yards.
He set NFL records for most receiving yards in a two, three, and four game stretch. He became the first player to ever have back-to-back 200 receiving yard games. He set Browns franchise records for most receiving yards in a game (261), and most receiving yards in a season (1,646). He had the second highest yards per game in a season ever, behind only Calvin Johnson.
He did all that with a QB carousel of Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, and Brian Hoyer, making the feat that much more impressive. Say what you will about Robert Griffin, but he’s definitely an upgrade over those guys.
Gordon has obviously had a lifetime habit of smoking pot. He let it derail his college career, and he almost let it derail his pro career. He’s not the first great player we’ve seen that had this problem. Ricky Williams, Mike Vick, and Randy Moss all come to mind.
Gordon reminds me very much of Moss. Both were able to skate by on their incredible talents and not putting in much effort off the field. However, when it comes time to kickoff, they are both “gamers.” Just get them motivated and onto the field, and they’re good to go.
This is Gordon’s last chance. He’s well aware of this, and all indications are that he’s very motivated. He spent the offseason working out with pro bowl corner Joe Haden. He suffered a minor quad injury while working out, and he needs to work on his conditioning and weight a bit.
Those aren’t concerns for me. Gordon has no history of injury, and his legs are obviously fresh. He’s expected to play in this upcoming preseason game, and he’ll have the first four weeks of the season to get into football shape. For those worried about the long layoff, Gordon sat out for over a year prior to his rookie season, and he fared just fine.
Gordon is also surrounded by a great supporting cast. Head Coach Hue Jackson seems like the perfect coach for him. He reunites with his former college QB Robert Griffin (who also has a lot to prove). All of the rookie WRs on the Browns have been looking up to Gordon. Also, former QB turned wide out Terrell Pryor, should be great at helping Gordon and the Brown’s other young WRs get a handle on the new offensive system.
Josh Gordon is a play to win pick. Sure, there’s a chance you might not get anything from him, but if he returns to form (which at only 25 years old, I believe he will) he’s a guy you’re definitely going to want during the second half of the season. He’s also a guy you don’t want to be playing against in the Fantasy playoffs.
Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts (ADP 70)
Devante Parker, Miami Dolphins (ADP 74)
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks (ADP 84)
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