Josh Gordon Soaring As Fantasy Football Playoffs Arrive

Browns_josh-gordon_2013

by Ian Riley

It has been an interesting season for Cleveland’s Josh Gordon. His value heading into Fantasy drafts was dampened courtesy of a two game suspension. That saw him head off draft boards as a WR4 in most leagues, albeit one with some huge upside. His 16.1 yards per reception last year ranked tied for eighth in the league with some guy namedCalvin Johnson.

In Week 12 against Pittsburgh he hauled in a career high 14 passes for 237 yards and a score. Things don’t get much better than that, it seemed. Apparently Gordon thought otherwise, as he proceeded to shred Jacksonville for 10 receptions and 261 yards and a pair of touchdowns this week. This made him the first receiver in NFL history to accumulate over 200 receiving yards in back-to-back games.

In 10 games this season he has 64 receptions for 1,249 yards and seven touchdowns. His 125 yards per game average would have put him on exact pace for a 2,000 yard receiving season. When you throw in the fact that he has caught passes from Brandon WeedenJason Campbell and Brian Hoyer it makes his season even more impressive.

This kid is a special talent, and at just 22 years of age is going to be a force to reckon with for years to come in this league. There is no doubt in my mind he will be a Top-5 option at receiver next season at Fantasy drafts. If Cleveland lands an upgrade at quarterback one could argue his case for the second slot right behind the almighty Calvin Johnson.

Observation

Adrian Peterson absolutely abused Chicago’s defense, gaining 211 yards on 35 carries in the Vikings overtime victory. We have become accustomed to these types of performances from the man we dub as All-Day or my personal favorite, Purple Jesus. What we are also now used to seeing is the once-dominant Bears defense impersonating turnstiles against the run. On the season they have allowed over 100 rushing yards to opposing running backs in nine of their 12 games. Sure, injuries have played a part here, but this is a matchup Fantasy owners need to continue to take advantage of. Owners of DeMarco Murray and LeSean McCoy should be licking their chops in Weeks 14 and 16 respectively. Owners in deep leagues with injury problems should even consider taking a look at Willis McGahee andChris Ogbonnaya as FLEX options in Week 15.

Speculation

Week 13 brought us the much-anticipated season debut of 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree. We saw him haul in a pair of passes for 68 yards, one of which went for 60 yards. Even though he started he received just four targets on the afternoon and didn’t play a full complement of snaps. While his return didn’t light up the box score, it did provide the team with a viable third option in the passing game. It resulted in Colin Kaepernick throwing for 275 yards, his highest total since Week 1 against Green Bay. Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis won’t have to deal with bracket coverage anymore. Throwing lanes are going to start opening up for this team, and just in time for the Fantasy playoffs. Seattle will pose a stiff test next week, but I think coach Harbaugh opens up the playbook and looks to air it out against their depleted secondary.

Revelation

With 157 total yards and a pair of touchdowns on 17 touches, C.J. Spiller launched himself back to the Fantasy forefront just in time for the playoffs. The 17 touches were the most he has seen since Week 4. It also marked the second consecutive week that he has out-touched Fred Jackson. With how this season has gone for Spiller, Fantasy owners are going to be quite hesitant trusting him in a lose or go home scenario. Next week will be his toughest test against a staunch Tampa Bay rush defense; definitely a matchup to avoid. After that, though, he faces Jacksonville and Miami, each of which rank in the Top 10 in points allowed to running backs. If your team is still alive at that stage of the game, Spiller has the potential to do some serious damage with 20 touches against either of those two opponents.

Observation

Denver’s passing offense has been a thing of beauty to watch all season long. After throwing for five more touchdown passes against Kansas City, Peyton Manning now has 41 for the season. His preferred target this week was Eric Decker, who had eight receptions for 174 yards and four touchdowns. While Decker is universally owned, he was started on a season low 63 percent of Fantasy teams on CBSSports. The moral of this story is simple. You just can’t bench any Denver wideout. EVER. Peyton is an absolute master of taking what the opposing defense is giving him. This week it was single coverage against Decker. This team has a legitimate chance at having three 1,000 yard receivers that each score at least 10 touchdowns.

Speculation

Josh Gordon has reached Fantasy superstar status. Photo Credit: THEELSIE.com

Josh Gordon has reached Fantasy superstar status.Photo Credit: THEELSIE.com

 After not practicing all week because of what is now being labeled as a setback to his hip injury, owners of Percy Harvin are going to have a real dilemma on their hands for the remainder of the season. He had two full weeks to recover from playing just 16 snaps in Week 11 and failed to do so. With Seattle sitting on a league best 10-1 record heading into Monday night, it’s getting really hard to expect the team to use him in anything other than a limited fashion for the rest of the regular season. If Seattle takes out New Orleans on Monday night they will have a two-game lead for home field advantage in the NFC with four games to play and a three-game lead in the NFC West. Another month of rest for Harvin will go a long way come NFL playoff time. As an owner I can’t justify starting him even if active on gamedays from here on.

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