The last time wide receiver Josh Gordon caught a pass in the NFL was on Dec. 21, 2014.
But, that hasn’t stopped his average draft position (ADP) from skyrocketing over the last week.
As you know from your Twitter timeline , Gordon will see the field once again after completely missing the 2015 NFL season due to failed drug tests. Gordon still has to serve a four-game suspension, but the 25-year old receiver should play in 2016, barring any major issues.
But before the Gordon news broke, I started to buy in to Corey Coleman as a sneaky pickup in 2016 Fantasy Football leagues.
I wasn’t alone in targeting Coleman, but we are quickly approaching a point where Fantasy players are going to be drafting Coleman and Gordon in the same round.
Shortly after that, I believe he could be targeted as early as Round 6 in a lot of leagues.
You’ll find plenty of stories on why Gordon should be drafted. You will also find plenty of stories why Gordon shouldn’t be drafted.
But what I wanted to focus on is the two simple reasons why I’m still drafting Coleman.
Drafting Corey Coleman in 2016 Fantasy Football Leagues
Reason to Draft Corey Coleman No. 1: Talent Meets Opportunity
One of the big reasons I liked Coleman was partially why Gordon was a star in 2013: Limited options for the quarterback.
Outside of Gordon, the quarterback carousel of Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden, and Jason Campbell had very few players to throw the ball to in 2013. Tight end Jordan Cameron had a strong season, posting a 80-917-7 stat line, but the stats of the wide receivers behind Gordon were forgettable:
Greg Little: 41-465-2
Davone Bess: 42-362-2
Now, it’s not fair to say volume alone made Gordon a Fantasy star in 2013. After all, he was the one who caught 30 passes of 20 or more yards, recorded 637 yards after the catch, and posted a 87-1,646-9 stat line.
The player his to make his own contributions to be worth starting.
But, Fantasy success is a combination of talent meeting opportunity.
Even if you believe Gordon is going to be the best receiver on the team starting in Week 5, Coleman will at least have four games where he can prove himself as Fantasy relevant.
Aside from Gordon being out, tight end Gary Barnidge may not be 100% to start the season. He is still recovering from a sport hernia surgery in June, and he reportedly is being eased back into things. If he experiences any setbacks at all, Coleman’s only competition for targets is rookie Jordan Payton, Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel, Terrelle Pryor.
I like his odds.
You don’t want to rely on numbers from last year too much, but his first four opponents were very friendly to wide receivers last season:
Week 1: Philadelphia Eagles: Third-most Fantasy points allowed per game to WRs
Week 2: Baltimore Ravens: Fifth-most Fantasy points allowed per game to WRs
Week 3: Miami Dolphins: 19th-most Fantasy points allowed per game to WRs
Week 4: Washington Redskins: Sixth-most Fantasy points allowed per game to WRs
So at the very least, if the ball is going to be thrown at all in Weeks 1-4, I think it’s a safe bet most of those passes are going to Coleman. And if Coleman is only relevant or just a strong Fantasy option for four weeks, I’m more than willing to draft him in Round 9.
If your league plays until Week 16, Coleman could see enough work to be a strong starter for a minimum of 25% of your season.
Of course, there’s always the chance he’s a dud or it takes him a few weeks to get adjusted to the NFL and build a rapport with his quarterback. But, he’s not going to hurt your team as a ninth-round pick.
The Browns felt good enough about Coleman to draft him in Round 1 of the 2016 NFL Draft. So if he can show why they did that, combined with a lot of targets, he has the opportunity for Fantasy success.
The other reason I’m drafting Coleman is simple…
Reason to Draft Corey Coleman No. 2: What if Gordon is a Bust?
Gordon is already injured, and he will miss a couple of weeks because of a quad injury he sustained when he was training on his own.
#Browns Josh Gordon, out a few weeks with quad, is standing out at conditioning test talking to WR coach Al Saunders
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) July 28, 2016
If you believe in Gordon, the good news about this is he was training and trying to stay in shape. The other good news is that he has until Week 5 to rest up.
Now, there is always the chance that Gordon is a stud and he makes you look like a genius. We’ve seen what Adrian Peterson did last year with a year away from football, and Gordon could very well be one of the top wide receivers in Fantasy from Weeks 5-16.
That is a possibility.
But how are you supposed to compare Gordon’s upside and Coleman’s upside?
What I do is look at a situation, and then I ask myself what is more likely to happen.
A. Josh Gordon-a player who hasn’t caught a pass since 2014, has had off-the-field issues stemming back to college, but was one of the most dominant receivers in the league in 2013 and is still just 25-will be the most relevant Fantasy wide receiver on the Cleveland Browns.
B. Corey Coleman-a player who is a rookie and has to adapt to the NFL, a player who did run a 4.37 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, a player who was a top performer at the 2016 NFL Combine in the bench press, broad jump, and vertical jump, a player the Browns felt confident enough to select as the 15th-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, a player who has been criticized for his concentration-will be the most relevant Fantasy wide receiver on the Cleveland Browns.
It may look like I’m stack up a lot of brownie points for Coleman. But, we just simply don’t have a lot to go on when it comes down to Gordon’s Fantasy production for 2016.
I’m not saying Coleman is without his issues. Like I mentioned, he was criticized for his concentration issues. He dropped a total of 17 passes in the past two seasons, and it may take him some time to adjust to the NFL.
But if I’m looking at those situations listed above, I’m still drafting Coleman. Some of the above could just be noise, as the brass is going to talk up their first pick from a draft. But the signal is Coleman will at least have four games to show off what he can do. Coleman is at least been on a football field catching passes in the last year, even if it wasn’t at the NFL level.
I also like that I’m paying less for Coleman if I’m wrong. Like I said, Gordon could cost me a sixth-round pick by the end of August. But even in Round 7 or Round 8, he still is more expensive than Coleman as a ninth-round pick.
Where are you drafting Josh Gordon? Are you targeting Corey Coleman instead? Or are you completely avoiding drafting any receiver on the Browns? Let me know.