2016 Fantasy Football Preview: Cleveland Browns

2015 Fantasy Recap

To summarize the Cleveland Browns in 2015 consider their top fantasy producers. Of the top 100 scorers among QB, RB, WR, and TE they had 2 players, Travis Benjamin whom they let walk via free agency, and Gary Barnidge whom at this time last year not even die hard Browns fans knew who he was. The only other player even worth mentioning is Duke Johnson, who by the end of the year was proving to have some value in PPR leagues. Sure Josh McCown was fun to watch at times, and had some great games, but he is not a guy you want to rely on. With all the good QB’s out there, if you were counting on McCown to help you win games, you were probably in as bad as shape as the Browns were.

Key Additions and Losses



QuarterBack Fantasy Outlook

After the complete failure known as Johnny Manziel, the Browns have decided to move on. They went out and signed Robert Griffin III and drafted Cody Kessler. They also brought back Josh McCown as insurance. Kessler is not NFL ready and nor do they need him to be this season. The Browns know they have a lot of work to do reworking this team, so throwing Kessler out to the wolves is not a smart move. So that leaves RGIII and McCown and it’s too early to predict who the starter will be. I think they give RGIII every chance to win it, but they are okay with riding McCown this season. No matter who wins the job neither of them are worth drafting, just keep moving along nothing to see here.

Grade: F

 Running Back Fantasy Outlook

The Browns backfield has the same look and feel as the Bengals backfield, just not nearly as good. You have the power runner in Isaiah Crowell and the scat back with above average catching skills in Duke Johnson. Crowell’s biggest problem is playing on a team that is usually losing. When you constantly play from behind there is no time for a power running game. For example the Browns are 3 – 1 when Crowell hits pay dirt and 0 – 12 when he does not. Crowell could be useful if the team starts winning…sorry, my bad. I am not touching Crowell until after the 10th round in any format. Johnson on the other hand actually does have some value here especially in PPR leagues as a borderline RB2 or solid flex play. I can see him easily building on his 61 receptions from last year and would not be surprised to see him push 80 receptions. In standard leagues, he is not as attractive but would still be worth having on your roster for spot starts.

Grade: C –

Wide Receiver Fantasy Outlook

One of the biggest reasons why no matter who wins the QB battle is not worth starting is because this could be the worst receiving corps in the NFL. Only the 49ers might have something to say about that. The Browns were so bad at receiver so used 5 of their draft picks on a WR, although one is a TE now, so maybe it’s four. To put this in context the last team to draft that many WR in a single draft was the LA Rams back when there were 17 rounds. Corey Coleman maybe the only receiver I would consider as of right now. Whether it’s PPR, standard, or even dynasty I would take Coleman somewhere around the 7th round and that’s it. I mean someone has to catch the ball, right? He is the best receiver on the roster and has zero obstacles between him and the starting job. After that it is a wait and see approach, there are too many guys fighting for the other spots so even try to predict. You have Andrew Hawkins, Rashard Higgins (another rookie), Terrelle Pryor, Taylor Gabriel and a slew of other rookies trying to make the team. Regardless of who ends up number 2 I am sure they will be un-draftable.

Grade: F + 

Tight End Fantasy Outlook

Did anyone have a more magical season than Gary Barnidge? Going into his seventh season Barnidge had a career slash line of 44/603/3 which translates to 7/100/.5 per year. Then, poof, he goes off for 79/1043/9 and has his best year as a pro by far. So the big question is can he repeat his performance from 2015? Logic tells me no. I suspect there will be some regression here, and I think too many people will overreach for him. People will treat him like a top 5 TE and reach for him before the 6th round and that is too high of a price for me. I see him more as a low TE1 and I would be targeting him around the 9th round. Barnidge is very draftable you just have to be careful not to overpay for him.

Grade:  B –

Defensive Fantasy Outlook

My best advice regarding the Browns defense is just to avoid them. I would not even consider using the Browns to cover for a bye week unless the team they are playing is on their third or fourth QB. Actually probably not even then either. Just avoid them, there is no redeemable quality for their defense right now, NONE!

Grade: F

Article originally posted on Going For 2 on July 6th, 2016.

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