The Josh Gordon Effect
First of all, I’m biased. Josh Gordon is on my fantasy team. No, really:
But there are three essential questions that need to be asked when assessing the Baylor product and Taco Bell enthusiast. Who, what, and when?
Let’s start with the most boring, yet perhaps the most impressive question surrounding the WR phenom: Who?
We already know who Josh Gordon is, that part is easy. He’s one of three things: 1. The player that propelled you into the fantasy playoffs; 2. The player that kept you out of the fantasy playoffs; 3. The player that you don’t want to face in the fantasy playoffs.
Let’s look at it the other way. Every receiver is only as good as the quarterback that throws him the ball, right? I mean look at Larry Fitzgerald the past few years. Let’s dig into that question: Who has been throwing the ball to Josh Gordon?
Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Completion%
Player A: 933 6 3 56.9
Player B: 1,731 9 9 52.8
Player C: 615 5 3 59.4
Player D: 3,825 27 14 59.2
The Browns quarterbacks have been so anonymous this year that we might as well leave them as Players A, B, and C. But Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, and Brian Hoyer deserve more respect than that. (I think). Player D is Matt Stafford, A.K.A the guy throwing Calvin Johnson passes every Sunday. Not only does Gordon have the worst quarterback situation in the league, he also has to play with a new one seemingly every week yet he somehow he finds chemistry with each. Take a look at those stats above for a minute… what kind of numbers would Josh Gordon put up if he had Matt Stafford throwing to him? I’m glad you asked.
First of all, Josh Gordon is unreal. On a per game basis, his production has never been matched in NFL history. After sitting out the first two games of 2013 due to suspension, Gordon returned to the lineup in Week 3 and has caught 64 passes for 1,249 yards and 7 touchdowns. His 124.9 receiving yards per game would amount to 1,998 over a 16 game season, breaking Calvin Johnson’s record from 2012. But that’s with Brandon Weeden and co. throwing him the ball! What if Josh Gordon played for the Detroit Lions, would he be better than Megatron?
Detroit throws the ball 41.7 times per game, most in the league. Of those 41 passes, Calvin Johnson is targeted on roughly 12 of them and catches 6.5. For contrast, Josh Gordon is targeted 11 times each game by Browns’ quarterbacks and he hauls in 6.5 of them. Therefore if you give Gordon 1 more target each contest (as if he played for the Lions), he’ll catch about .5 more balls every game. This means that Josh now averages 7 catches each Sunday afternoon.
Now, because Gordon has more catches per game, he’ll also accumulate more yardage. Every pass caught by the Browns-turned-Lions receiver goes for about 20 yards so with his new 7 catch average, Gordon now accrues 137 YPG instead of the “measly” 125 he gets now.
But wait, it gets better. More catches don’t just mean more yards, they also mean more touchdowns. On the Browns, Gordon catches 1 touchdown every 9 passes thrown his way and he has now grabbed 7 through 10 games. But with his new team, that number jumps to 7.5 TD’s in 10 games (or .75 per game) because of the .5 catches added each contest.
Now lets prorate those numbers into a 16 game season:112 receptions, 2,192 yards, 12 touchdowns. What a difference a quarterback makes.
Now you know how valuable Josh Gordon can be when paired with a good quarterback; but the question here is: When will he reach his full potential?
Short answer: Not for a while.
Long answer: Gordon turned just 22 in April and he’s actually several weeks younger than Tavon Austin, the 1st round rookie wideout taken in the 2013 draft. No 22-year-old has ever averaged 100 receiving yards per game, but as we stand here today, Josh Gordon seems more than likely to be the first. He’s also in the midst of a 4 year, 5.1 million dollar contract which means all this production is coming at a dirt cheap cost, by NFL standards. That’s all a long and twisted way of saying that this kid has a chance to do something special, and he’s not even close to it yet.
Or maybe I’m just happy he’s on my fantasy team.