I’ll take the blame on this one, guys. I hopped aboard the Josh Gordon hype train so very long ago. He was still in pre-school, actually, and I had already pegged him as a 2013 breakout candidate.
And now he’s Justin Blackmon’ed us, and he’ll be suspended for the first two games of the 2013 season due to a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. He’s also been fined four game checks.
The fantasy impact of this is more of a minor explosion, and not the type that will leave you without eyebrows. It’ll be sort of like when a lighter is set a little too high, and you didn’t know it.
Make no mistake here: this sucks, and a two-game absence that isn’t even injury related isn’t anything to shrug about. All those pleasant things I’ve written about Gordon and the fantasy potential of the Browns’ offense as a whole still stand, but the problem is that now they’re true for two fewer games. Since the fantasy season is only 13 games long in most leagues, that hurts.
Given Gordon’s history, it takes a truly talented actor to be shocked about this suspension. He was available to the Browns in the supplemental draft because a failed marijuana test while he was at Baylor led to an indefinite suspension. What he did to deserve this suspension is still unclear, but he’s quite familiar with puffing the magic dragon.
For what it’s worth (see: very little), here’s the standard statement from Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski:
“Obviously we are all disappointed in this news. In our short time with Josh, he has done everything that we’ve asked him to do and he has exhibited substantial improvement. We believe that he will continue to work diligently through training camp and the preseason. I am confident that others will step up in his absence.”
Short term, this also effects the fantasy production potential of the Browns’ offense, and its ability to get off to a solid start early in the season. Earlier this week I wrote blissfully about Brandon Weeden’s sleeper potential, and how you should therefore target him as the ideal late-round QB. Now he’ll play the first two games of the year without one of the league’s best young vertical options, and a guy who caught three passes for 40 or more yards during his rookie season, despite finishing with only 50 receptions in total. When he first broke out this past season, Gordon had a five-game stretch when he remarkably averaged 27 yards per catch.
He’s that damn good and that damn fast, and now he’s gone for a chunk of the fantasy regular season. Of course, for those in re-draft leagues who are brave enough to stash him for a few weeks, this suspension is oddly a wonderful thing. Gordon will now fall a round or two, giving you a sweet discount on 11 games of high-end WR2 production.
But somewhere out there is a man who owns both Gordon and Blackmon in a keeper or dynasty league. We’re all with you, friend.
UPDATE (5:10 P.M. ET): Alright, so I guess we can rule out puffing the magic dragon. However, it’s still odd that Gordon was punished financially for the standard four games, but under the suspension he’ll miss just two.
In statement, Josh Gordon blames codeine in antibiotic taken in Feb. for positive test. Apologizes to team and fans. #browns
— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) June 7, 2013