The Antonio Brown era is officially over in New England. Following an absolutely chaotic 11-day stint, the Patriots decided they were better off without Brown’s drama. Despite his off-field issues, Brown is still one of the most talented wide receivers in the game and figured to take targets away from Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Phillip Dorsett. However, now that he’s gone, let’s break down how each one of these players should fare moving forward.
Julian Edelman is the easiest one to break down and doesn’t really justify a full analysis. He’s going to remain the top option in the offense and see the majority of the targets. He’s a week-in, week-out starter, especially in PPR formats. Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett, meanwhile, deserve a deeper look.
Fantasy Football: Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett Outlook Without Antonio Brown
Josh Gordon appeared to be the player who stood the most to lose from Antonio Brown’s presence. On paper, Brown came the closest to mirroring Gordon’s skillset. Gordon excels as a perimeter threat capable of winning contested catches on the outside and taking the top off the defense. While he doesn’t have his 2013 speed anymore, Gordon’s elite size and strength still allow him to be effective at all levels of the field.
With Brown out of the way, Gordon will probably lead the team in deep targets. A player as talented as Josh Gordon really only needs one play to go his way to be fantasy relevant, and he should have plenty of opportunities moving forward. Gordon had a fantastic game in Week 1 without Antonio Brown, recording three receptions for 73 yards and one touchdown on four targets. It’s worth noting that this game got out of hand fast and Gordon probably would have seen more volume had this been less of a blowout.
Unfortunately for fantasy owners, the Patriots are probably going to blow out a lot of teams. This roster is as good as any in recent memory, and New England faces a laughably easy schedule early in the season. The Patriots play the Jets, Bills, Redskins, Giants, and Jets again in their next five games: that’s not exactly an elite arsenal of opponents.
Gordon is not a volume player, so he only needs one big play to give you a starting-caliber week. That said, he’s also prone to bust performances due to New England probably dominating all of their opponents. Josh Gordon is a good high-upside flex play, but you should make sure to have safe WR1 and WR2 plays to minimize the impact of Gordon’s volatility.
If you’re playing in a 10- or 12-team league, Phillip Dorsett could be a nice sleeper option. While he hasn’t seen much volume in his career, he’s been remarkably consistent when targeted. Going back to 2018, Dorsett has caught all 23 of his targets for 259 yards and three touchdowns. This doesn’t include a three-game postseason run where he recorded both of Tom Brady’s touchdown receptions.
Dorsett is a reasonably talented player, and he finally has a chance to shine. Last year, New England ran a lot of two-receiver sets thanks to the presence of Rob Gronkowski. However, the Patriots have run a lot of three-receiver sets now that Gronkowski’s retired. This means Phillip Dorsett will be on the field for a sizable portion of the snaps, and he’ll see his fair share of targets. Outside of Julian Edelman, nobody in this offense has as much of Brady’s trust as Phillip Dorsett. He’s still fourth in the pecking order (Edelman, Gordon, and James White), but he’s sure to catch just about everything that comes his way. He has a relatively low ceiling, but you can plug him in if you really need a starter. At the very least, he’s worth a bench spot.
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