Josh Gordon's Return Shouldn't Keep You From Drafting Corey Coleman in Fantasy Football

Gordon is returning from his 2015 suspension, but what does that do to Corey Coleman?

When it was reported that the NFL was going to re-instate Josh Gordon, it sent the fantasy football community into a tizzy. What do we do? Where should we draft him?

Fortunately, our own JJ Zachariason already answered that question for you.

But what about the rest of the Browns' receiving options, specifically Corey Coleman? What should we do with him?

You're going to buy all the Coleman you can, and here's why.

His Price Is Already Falling

The first reason we shouldn't be sweating Coleman this summer is that his ADP is going to fall now that Gordon is back.

How much is yet to be seen, but it is already starting to drop on both Fantasy Football Calculator and My Fantasy League.

Corey Coleman ADP Fantasy Football Calculator

Corey Coleman MFL10 ADP

It has only been a few days since the Gordon news came out, and Coleman has already dropped a couple of selections on Fantasy Football Calculator, and about a round on My Fantasy League. This will probably continue, and it could possibly be further exacerbated by any positive news for Gordon.

The bottom line here is that Coleman isn't going to cost what he used to after this news, and he will probably be significantly cheaper.

He Gets Four Games as the Top Dog

Though Gordon is slated to return this season, he still has to sit out the first four games of 2016.

That means that we get four games (at least) of Coleman as the top wide receiver for the Browns. So what exactly does that mean for his overall target share? Let's take a look at Hue Jackson's history.

Year Team WR1 WR1 TarMS WR2 WR2 TarMS
2015 CIN A.J. Green 26% Marvin Jones 20%
2014 CIN A.J. Green 31% Mohamed Sanu 20%
2011 OAK Darrius Heyward-Bey 25% Denarius Moore 15%
2010 OAK Louis Murphy 18% Darrius Heyward-Bey 18%
2007 ATL Roddy White 25% Michael Jenkins 16%
2003 WAS Laveranues Coles 30% Rod Gardner 22%
Avg - WR1 25.8% WR2 18.5%

Looking at the data, we can see that Jackson's offenses target the top receiver, on average, 26% of the time, and the secondary receiver 19% of the time. If we do some simple math, that means we can reasonably expect Coleman to see about 20.3% of Browns targets in 2016.

If we apply that to our current projection of 596.63 pass attempts for Cleveland, that gives Coleman 121 targets. As a reference point, that would have been top 25 in the NFL in 2015.

Of course, we are expecting those targets to be somewhat front-loaded, but it seems reasonable to expect Coleman to be a WR2 for the first four weeks and a WR3 once Gordon is back.

Because he is being drafted as a WR4 -- and may even be closer to WR5 by the time you draft in mid-late August -- that's a really nice value.

Upside for More

The fun doesn't stop there for Coleman. There is still upside to be had in case something happens to Gordon. He could be cut, traded, or suspended at any time before he comes back in Week 5, and you can add injured to that list once he's back on the field.

If anything like that happens, Coleman would go back to being the clear-cut top option for the Browns.

There is also the potential for Gordon to be rusty upon his return. Take a look at how he performed in 2014 while coming off of a suspension in terms of our Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, which quantifies a player's impact in terms of adding expected points for his offense.

Year Team Rec Rec NEP Tar Rec NEP/Tar League Avg Catch Rate Rec Successes Rec Success Rate
2014 CLE 24 20.54 47 0.44 0.66 51.06% 20 83.33%
2013 CLE 87 138.64 159 0.87 0.66 54.72% 77 88.51%
2012 CLE 50 64.99 95 0.68 0.66 52.63% 43 86.00%

The sample size here is notably smaller, but Gordon clearly wasn't playing at the same level while he was in between suspensions. Is that necessarily going to be the case in 2016?

No, but it is reasonable to expect someone who hasn't played football in almost two years not to go right back to being an elite weapon.

For as long as it takes Gordon to return to form, it's possible Coleman could receive more work if he is playing well.

Draft Coleman

Coleman is shaping up to be a receiver who will be drafted below his floor if everything remains static and well below is floor should Gordon not return to form right away or at all.

If nothing else, he should give you startable fantasy production for the first four weeks of the season, and that has value, especially if you are implementing a running back heavy strategy.

As his price continues to decrease, I advise acquiring more of the rookie wideout, who was an elite prospect coming out of Baylor. I know that I will.