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Josh Gordon To Be Traded: The Fantasy Impact On The Browns’ Receiving Corps

Cleveland Browns General Manager John Dorsey released a statement Saturday night that the team will release receiver Josh Gordon Monday.

After news broke of Gordon’s impending release, NFL.com insider Ian Rapoport reported that the release of Gordon stemmed from him questionably injuring his hamstring though ‘he was fine at Friday’s practice.’ Gordon told the Browns he injured his hamstring Saturday morning.

In addition, ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter reported that Gordon’s hamstring injury occurred at a promotional shoot, according to a source.

Both insiders then reported that the Browns may trade Gordon before their planned release Monday.

Gordon started and played in 78 percent of snaps week 1 after Hue Jackson initially said he wouldn’t and it was speculated that he was on a pitch count for snaps. In addition, Gordon caught one of three targets for 17 yards and a touchdown.

When Gordon is traded or released and picked up by another team, his 2018 fantasy outlook will be assessed, but let’s look at the Browns’ receiving corps without him.

The Impact On The Cleveland Browns’ Receiving Corps

Jarvis Landry

Landry caught seven of 15 targets for 106 yards in 91 percent of offensive snaps week 1. With such a high target share already, it’s hard to envision an insane increase with Gordon off the team, but Landry is firmly a top 12 fantasy receiver rest of season playing the Antonio Brown role in Haley’s offense.

Rashard Higgins

Higgins played in 60 percent of snaps catching one of four targets for 38 yards. For the immediate future (including week 2), Higgins should be a serviceable flex in all formats. Landry can’t get every target, and Higgins was the receiver with the second most snaps played and targets. Pick up Higgins now, and flex him this week if you need an injury replacement. The Saints defense gave up 42 points to the Bucs last week.

For the long-term, Higgins may only be relevant a handful of games if the Browns sign a free agent receiver such as Dez Bryant.

Antonio Callaway

Callaway played on 17 percent of snaps while having more of a special teams presence playing in 11 percent of those snaps. In addition, Callaway did not record a catch on his sole target. Anticipation was high on the rookie (and the entire offensive rookie class) in the preseason, but Callaway wasn’t able to get anything going.

With Gordon out of the equation, Callaway should see more snaps and targets, but until he makes plays on the field he isn’t more than a speculative add.

Pandora’s Box: Browns sign Dez Bryant

At the moment it doesn’t look like the Browns are interested in Dez Bryant, according to Josina Anderson, but that could change once Gordon is shipped away.

Bryant last played for the Cowboys where he caught 68 catches on 131 targets for 839 yards and six touchdowns. That said, Bryant’s last dominant season was in 2014 with retired quarterback Tony Romo. In 2014, Bryant played in all 16 games before missing 10 the next two seasons, and he caught 88 catches for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns.

If signed, Bryant would jump to no. 2 on the receiver depth chart behind Landry. Add Bryant now as a speculative add in case he’s signed before waivers clear Wednesday. In Todd Haley’s offense, he’ll be no worse than a flex, though he doesn’t fit the mold of no. 2 receiver in Haley’s offense. Gordon and JuJu Smith-Schuster are both deep threat, big play receivers. Still, Bryant would be an upgrade over the aforementioned in-house options.

UPDATES:

Josina Anderson reported that an NFL executive implied that something was up with Gordon.

Anderson’s report on Gordon was confirmed by NFL columnist Mike Freeman.

Gordon thanked the Browns organization.

Joshua Kellem is a Slippery Rock University graduate with a BS in Journalism. In addition, he is the creator of fantasy football website fftalk.org

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