Cleveland Browns

Who will step up for Browns without Josh Gordon?

Josh Gordon will miss the Browns’ Week 2 contest against the New Orleans Saints. In what could be a high-scoring affair, who will step up in Gordon’s place?

After missing training camp and the entirety of the preseason, Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon finally returned to the team for its Week 1 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Missing the chance to work with new quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the preseason, Gordon was targeted just three times — pulling in one for a 17-yard touchdown.

Despite not being on the injury report all week, Gordon came into the Browns facility on Saturday complaining about his hamstring. After examination, the team’s doctors decided to rule him out for Week 2 against New Orleans.

Gordon didn’t have a huge impact on the Week 1 tie against Pittsburgh, aside from his touchdown, of course. As he gets more comfortable with Taylor, however, he has the chance to have a big impact on the Browns offense.

He won’t get the chance this week, however, and someone is going to have to step up in his place.

For fantasy players out there, Gordon’s absence creates a lot of uncertainty. Jarvis Landry, who led the team last week with seven receptions (15 targets) and 106 yards, could see even more work in this game. Landry is about the only safe bet.

Behind Landry is Rashard Higgins and rookie Antonio Callaway. Callaway looked to be the team’s no. 3 receiver heading into the season but logged just 15 snaps compared to Higgins’ 54 in Week 1. Higgins, coming off a 27-catch, 312-yard, two-touchdown season, may just have more trust from Hue Jackson and Todd Haley at this point.

Callaway certainly has talent, though, and will probably see the field more in Gordon’s absence. Both receivers are priced at $3,000 on DraftKings, and while Higgins proved more in Week 1, both offer the upside to warrant taking a flier.

Tight end David Njoku should also get more looks. Njoku was targeted seven times Week 1 but only hauled in three balls for 13 yards. It is hard to imagine Njoku putting those numbers up two weeks in a row with a 17.5 percent target-share. Also, there is one less jump-ball receiver in red zone opportunities.

Duke Johnson Jr. is a running back but has always been more of a receiving threat. Johnson led the team in receiving last season with 74 receptions for 693 yards. In Week 1, Johnson was targeted six times but caught just one ball for eight yards. That is also an awfully low conversion rate, and some positive regression is at play vs. New Orleans.

With the likelihood of the Browns playing from behind this entire game, all these receiving options should get a fair chance to make an impact. Landry will be Taylor’s main target, but behind him, it will probably just come down to who gets open the most.

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