One of the most talented yet troubled wide receivers in the NFL has a new home, and it features two future Hall-of-Famers in Bill Belichick and Tom Brady running the show. After the Cleveland Browns struck a deal to send Josh Gordon to the New England Patriots, it set the NFL world on fire.
The only people who could rival the excitement of Patriots fans, though, were fantasy football owners of Gordon. Once the deal was finalized, fantasy players who had held Gordon after rumors surfaced the Browns were set to release were certainly more than relieved with the outcome.
But now comes the fun task of navigating fantasy football lineups ahead of Week 3 and trying to figure out if Gordon should be in your starting lineup. It’s an incredibly tough spot to gauge, especially when considering that the wide receiver arrived at team facilities around 4 pm EST on Tuesday, as Pro Football Talk revealed.
*NOTE: We’ve updated the start/sit with crucial info on Gordon below.
The Argument to Start Josh Gordon in First Game With Patriots
The pure upside argument is probably the easiest one to make, but the type of playmaker Gordon is capable of being is widely known. Beyond that, the Patriots wideouts will have somewhat of a tough matchup with the Detroit Lions in the Sunday Night Football matchup.
Through two games, Detroit has allowed just 16 receptions to opposing wide receivers for 249 yards and three touchdowns. The total receptions are tied for the second-fewest in the NFL to this point, although the Lions faced the New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers over the first two weeks. Neither team is loaded at receiver, nor do they have a player with the upside of Gordon.
To make matters worse for the Lions (and the decision tougher for fantasy owners) top cornerback Darius Slay suffered a concussion in Week 2 and may miss this game. If that’s the case, the Lions will have trouble slowing down not only Gordon, but the entire Patriots receiving corps.
Based on production from New England’s receivers this season, two games which were tough matchups, it could point to the former Browns receiver seeing plenty of snaps when he’s ready. The only wideout to total 100-plus yards so far is Phillip Dorsett with 110 on 12 catches. Chris Hogan is the next-closest, coming in with four catches for 53 yards and finding the end zone twice.
Brady needs a playmaker, and Gordon could be the answer.
The Argument for Fantasy Owners to Sit Him
The case to sit Gordon doesn’t feature as many factors as the one to start him, but this issue is probably the biggest of them all.
New England’s newest offensive weapon needs to learn an entire offense in a very short period of time. It’s unknown how quickly Gordon can pick up the playbook, but if he’s able to do that, he could be a busy man in Week 3. Learning the offense is one of the biggest concerns and outweighs anything else due to the fact that if he’s not fully prepared, the 27-year-old could watch the entire game from the sidelines.
Finally comes the topic of rapport with Brady. I’m confident in the All-Pro quarterback’s ability to get his new weapon ready for the game, but will the two have enough time to work together to really have an impact on Sunday?
This one truly comes down to your options, but personally, I’d recommend playing it safe. If you held Gordon over the first two weeks of the season, you’re going to get the opportunity to roll him out and reap the benefits. Unfortunately, this isn’t the ideal spot to do so, unless we hear news on expected snaps or where he’s at in terms of learning the offense.
*As The Athletic’s Jeff Howe reported, Gordon didn’t get much practice time this week due to the hamstring injury. Realistically, we can’t expect much workload from him on Sunday night.
It’s unlikely Belichick will give the media much of anything to work with, which leaves fantasy football owners in a tough spot. If you have a better option or just a great one-week filler in an elite matchup, I recommend pivoting there. But if Gordon is far and away your best option and you’re willing to roll the dice and take a risk, it’d be hard to blame you for starting the Patriots receiver.