So, two days after being cut by the Patriots, the Easter Bunny, as Scott Pianowski of Yahoo like to call him, Josh Gordon has been traded from the Cleveland Browns to the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2019 5th round pick. They also get a 7th round pick in return if he is not active for 10 games.
So, what does this mean for his fantasy football outlook, along with the other weapons on the Patriots?
This was a funny tweet from Pat Thorman over at PPF (although I don't think it was meant to be funny).
Let's talk Josh Gordon. Since 2013 - he's played in 11 of a possible 65 games. He seemed fully back and getting acclimated to Cleveland. There are a couple of issues I can think of with Gordon, because I always like to just put out the situation from all angles to you guys, and let you make your own decisions on the situation. I'm trying not to get unreasonably high expectations for fantasy football. For one, he missed almost all of training camp, returned, tweaked his hamstring right away - did play on 78% of their snaps in Week 1, he caught a 17-yard TD pass, it was a great catch by Gordon, but later that week, he apparently re-tweaked the hamstring doing some kind of promotional photo shoot. So, we don't even know how healthy he is. Is this day-to-day, is this week-to-week, hamstrings are tricky and can linger, and if you return too soon reinjury risk is high, as you can literally see by what just happened to him. Reports did just come out saying that he'll be healthy enough to play this Sunday against Detroit, which is kind of hilarious tbh, but we'll see, it's just a little concerning this is two hamstring tweaks already this year.
The other issue is the Pats playbook. It's not an easy one to learn. This ain't Madden. You don't just get inserted into the depth chart and know everything. It's going to take him some time to get healthy and to get acclimated to the team. OF course, once he's healthy, they can run him out there for a handful of snaps and tell him to run this route or that route, but I don't think he'll be a full-time player for a while.
Where Gordon could be a massive help to this team is on the long ball. Flash is a career 17.5 YPR guy - and we know Tom Brady would certainly love using him downfield. It was the reason I was so high on Hogan this year when we knew for sure they weren't bringing in any other WRs. Hogan is the only WR on the Pats so far with an aDOT above 9.1 (12.6). Gordon could definitely be a Brandin Cooks replacement once he's up to speed. Last year, Brady attempted the 3rd most deep balls (86) in the NFL with the 4th highest completion rate on those throws (43%). Through two weeks, there are 11 QBs who have attempted as many or more deep balls than Brady. Week 2 was obviously a tough matchup @ JAX but I expect Brady to start slinging it soon, especially when Gordon is in the lineup. Last year Brandin Cooks had the 4th most air yards in the entire NFL. A whopping 33% of Cooks' 109 targets were deep ball targets last year. The more I read into this, the more it makes sense for Gordon to take over that role.
People are quick to throw the Gordon to Randy Moss comparisons which I think are crazy, but Gordon will have a monster ceiling now that he's playing with a competent QB for the first time in his life in Tom Brady. I want people to just temper expectations for the first month or so of Gordon being there.
What does this do for everyone else? Brady remains my QB2 for ROS and this only raises his ceiling.
The biggest impact will undoubtedly be on Chris Hogan. After a shitty Week 1, Hogan bounced back no Sunday at Jacksonville by catching 3-of-5 targets for 42 yards and two touchdowns. Up to this point, Hogan holds the highest air yard market share on the team, accounting for 26% of the team's air yards. So, he definitely won't be the primary downfield read anymore as long as Gordon is on the field. Edelman will also be back in Week 5. Now this by no means make Hogan droppable. Hogan will still the see the field plenty. Last year he ran 45% of his routes from the slot, and he's around that same mark this year. Edelman and Hogan will move around a ton in this offense, as Gordon probably will too. I think this makes Hogan more of a mid-tier WR3 that will still be a touchdown threat but will no longer have that low-end WR1 ceiling. However, what I would say is a pretty interesting tactic to do right now is maybe send a really, really lowball offer for Hogan - Edelman still has two more games to serve, Gordon won't be a factor for at least a couple of weeks if not more and the Pats now play @DET, MIA, IND, KC over their next 4. That's a ridiculously good passing slate. I'm not saying spend a lot on Hogan but there will probably be someone willing to give him up for almost nothing, worth a shot.
This definitely isn't good for Phillip Dorsett, it'll be interesting to see how much play time he gets. Gronk will continue to Gronk. Don't think it effects the running backs much if at all. Edelman, sure it lowers his ceiling a bit, but they'll be running very different routes. I was not very high on Edelman to begin with, so he'll also be in the WR3ish realm imo.