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At this time last year, Browns receiver Josh Gordon was getting a lot of hype as a sleeper. Even with a two-game suspension Fantasy owners were looking at Gordon with a late-round pick, with an Average Draft Position in Round 9 of a 12-team league.
Now, we all know how it worked out. Gordon had a magical year and finished as the No. 2 receiver in standard leagues behind Demaryius Thomas and ahead of Calvin Johnson. Give Gordon the two games he missed and he would have been the No. 1 player at his position.
If he didn't have the two-game suspension, his ADP likely would have been two or three rounds higher, possibly even in Round 5. That's where Vikings receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is being drafted now and we're hoping for similar results.
There's a lot to like about Patterson this season and the comparisons to Gordon on the field are somewhat valid. This is Patterson's second year and that's when Gordon became a star. Both are athletic specimens (Gordon is 6-foot-3, 225 pounds and Patterson is 6-foot-2, 220 pounds) with dynamic speed. Both had similar Fantasy production as rookies in standard leagues (101 points for Gordon in 2012, 103 points for Patterson in 2013).
But the common thread for both receivers, which is a tremendous positive, is the man calling the plays in offensive coordinator Norv Turner. He was with the Browns in 2013 and will run the show on offense for the Vikings this season. That should help Patterson shine.
After Turner took the job in Minnesota in January, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said Turner had already put in 10 plays for Patterson. We hope those are similar to the routes he drew up for Gordon, who had 159 targets for 87 catches, 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns. He had an average of 11 targets per game. The hope is that Patterson gets similar treatment.
Another similarity for Gordon and Patterson is having mediocre quarterback play. Gordon posted his monstrous stats with Brian Hoyer, Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden throwing him passes. Patterson will open with Matt Cassel, but he could also get rookie Teddy Bridgewater during the season. Have no fear because Turner can make it work, as he proved in Cleveland.
"I think he's doing a good job in the entire passing game," Turner told the Minnesota media recently about Patterson. "He's a young receiver. I think he's developing the way you'd expect him to develop, but I think he's shown that when given the opportunities he can catch the ball short, he can catch the ball intermediate and he obviously has the ability to get deep."
Patterson closed last season with flashes of his tremendous playmaking ability. He had double digits in Fantasy points in four games in a row and averaged more than 15 Fantasy points over that span. He had 15 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns in those four games and eight carries for 129 yards and two touchdowns. And that's only scratching the surface of what he's capable of doing.
We hope to see more from Patterson as a receiver and not having to rely on just his athleticism to make plays. He only had one game with more than 35 receiving yards during his four-game stretch in 2013, and you have to wonder if the Vikings will give him an average of two carries a game when Adrian Peterson is 100 percent.
Patterson already made a splash in the preseason with a big performance against the Chiefs in the dress rehearsal game with three catches for 71 yards and a touchdown on five targets. The scoring play was a 53-yard bomb where Patterson got behind the defense and we hope for plenty of that this year.
There's some downside to Patterson, which is why he's ranked inside my top 20 and not my top 10. He's still raw after limited time as a receiver in college at Tennessee and then as a rookie last year, but he could easily live up to the hype, especially if Turner works his magic again.
Patterson is someone to target in Round 5 in all leagues. He might not be as successful as Gordon was last year, but you'll be glad Patterson is on your team. He's not only fun to watch, but his playmaking ability could have you salivating with all the Fantasy points you should rack up.