- Josh Gordon is now a member of the New England Patriots. Does that make now the perfect time to trade him in fantasy football leagues?
The swiftness of the end of Josh Gordon’s career in Cleveland was more shocking than the result itself. Gordon went from prepping for the Browns’ Week 2 game against the Saints, to out with a hamstring injury, to a shocking reported roster cut, to trade bait, and finally to the Patriots, all in four days. By time news of the trade broke, the entire football world knew Gordon had played his final game for the Browns. That it was the Patriots who took advantage of the situation seemed too fitting a conclusion to be much of a surprise.
Gordon’s move to New England struck the fantasy community like a thunderbolt. The Patriots, fresh off a 31-20 loss to the Jaguars that wasn’t nearly as close as the score suggested, are in need of new life in the passing game. Gordon once looked like the next big star at receiver before off-field troubles derailed his career. Team and player appear to be a perfect match, a Randy Moss redux one decade later.
There’s just one problem with that line of thinking. Yes, when Moss joined the Patriots, he was coming off the worst season of his career, and wasn’t necessarily looked at as the one-man wrecking crew he was in Minnesota. We all know how that turned out. The big difference, of course, is that Moss had 676 catches, 10,700 yards and 101 touchdowns to his name by time he joined the Patriots. He had six 1,200-yard seasons, and six seasons with at least 10 scores. That season Gordon had five years ago that has fantasy owners still seeing visions of a WR1 dancing in their heads? Moss had four equal or better seasons under his belt when the Raiders dealt him to the Patriots. Josh Gordon is not Randy Moss.
On a purely human level, we all want to see Gordon succeed. Our jobs here require us to be realistic, however, and the fact of the matter is that now is the time to trade Gordon if you can. There’s a great chance that his value will never be higher than it is right now, with irrational exuberance running in overdrive.
Since that magical 2013 season in which Gordon caught 87 passes for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns, he has played 11 games across four-plus years. He has averaged 3.91 catches, 59.54 yards and 0.18 touchdowns per game in those 11 contests, which translates to a 16-game pace of 62.56 catches, 952.64 yards and 2.88 touchdowns. It’s unfair to apply those averages to Gordon’s future in New England, but it reinforces the fact that he hasn’t exactly set the league ablaze since his one monster season.
You know what’s really hard to do? Learn an entirely new playbook as a receiver in the middle of the season. Go back and look at how some wide receivers traded during the regular season have performed in their new homes. It isn’t pretty. In fact, Moss himself was traded twice in 2010, and flopped in both Tennessee and Minnesota. Gordon's also joining a team that has a legitimate No. 1 in Rob Gronkowski, and strong supporting pieces in the soon-to-return Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, James White, Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead. Gordon’s youth—he turned 27 in April—and natural talent make him a better bet than the average receiver in this spot, and the infrastructure built by Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels will give him every advantage in his new environment. Still, Gordon is far from a sure thing, and there’s a good chance someone in your league will be willing to treat him like one.
So, what’s a deal that should motivate you to move Gordon? I’m easily trading him for any WR2 or better. Golden Tate? Larry Fitzgerald? Brandin Cooks? Give me all of them over Gordon. A fair running back price is a little harder to pin down since no one is trading you a workhorse for Gordon and RB2 production is more disparate from week to week, but I’m trading Gordon for Lamar Miller and Kenyan Drake without thinking twice. Unless Gordon can pull a 2007 Moss—and he likely cannot—his value will never be higher than it is before he ever plays a snap for the Patriots. Now’s the time to sell.