Cleveland Browns Team Preview by Matt Higgins

The Cleveland browns are coming off a 0-16 season, they have won one game over the last two years, and they haven’t won 8 games in over a decade.  Still, as a Vikings fan it is hard to feel bad for the city of Cleveland. You have won 4 NFL Championships (prior to their being a Super Bowl!) Do you have any idea how much mileage Packer fans get out of 1960’s football?  Quit your complaining dog pound.  You won an NBA championship, the Indians are contenders every year, and you have Ohio State football.  


In all seriousness, you have the worst NFL franchise ever.  The fact that people still pay money to watch that team is the eighth wonder of the world.  I could site several examples of teams that have turned it around quickly in the NFL, and there are no fans that deserve it more than you.  The Browns have brought in a new high-profile GM in John Dorsey.  He comes over from Kansas City with an impressive resume and a vision.  Last year Dorsey selected Pat Mahomes as the tenth overall pick.  At the time, Mel Kyper gave the Chiefs and Dorsey a draft rating of C-.   Mr. Kyper is eating his words today as Kareem Hunt won rookie of the year and Pat Mahomes is being trusted with the keys to Andy Reeds car.  John Dorsey drafted immediate impact players last year and that resume should give Browns fans hope when he sticks his flag in the ground on players like Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb.  If Dorsey is able to strike gold in the draft again this year he just might turn this beleaguered franchise into an NFL caliber team again.


If you found your way to this website, you have a lot of time, and you want to know if there are any Browns that can help your fantasy team.  With their weak defense, they are going to have to score points for this to happen.  This defense is going to be one of the worst in the league despite drafting Myles Garett last year and adding Denzel Ward who was regarded as the best cornerback in this years draft.  This lack of defense should make the Cleveland pass catchers a viable option on most weeks. 


The quarterback position features Tyrod Taylor who is currently being drafted as the 26th QB off the board and the #1 overall pick Baker Mayfield is being drafted as the 34th QB off the board.  Unless you are in a two QB league I think it’s probably safe to let these two guys go undrafted for now.  However, Tyrod has been a fantasy relevant player in the past, and it could be argued that his weapons in Cleveland this year will be the best he’s ever had.  Michael Vick, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, and Tyrod Taylor are all players that can win you a week or maybe even a championship.  OK, adding Tryod Taylor to that list is a real stretch, but hopefully you know what I’m getting at with running QB's.  If he starts out hot be the guy in your league that picks him up, if he starts off cold I would hold off on picking up Baker Mayfield until we get some film on him.


The running back situation is a convoluted mess.  Carlos Hyde (RB#34) looked good last year and comes over from San Francisco to join a backfield with veteran pass catching back Duke Johnson (RB#39), and 5’10 230 pound rookie Nick Chubb RB#42.  The hype from Cleveland so far is that Chubb will beat out Hyde for the early down work in camp.  Expect Chubb’s ADP to rise and Hydes to fall as Chubb continues to get steam.  These NFL executives know what they’re doing and I believe there is a reason the forty niners gave a slight 200 pound Jerick McKinnon 12 million guaranteed and let the 230 pound Carlos Hyde go to Cleveland for a guaranteed 5 million.  The league seems to believe that Hyde doesn’t have it anymore.  I don’t see the Browns being a team stuck on the goal line a lot either.  I would add Nick Chubb if I was acquiring running back depth and pass on Carlos Hyde.  In PPR I prefer The Duke to all of the above.  


At Wide receiver the browns have more juice than they have had in awhile.  Josh Gordon is finally off the drugs, or so we believe.  He looks like he’s in impeccable shape and last year he came out of nowhere to win people fantasy football championships.  He is being drafted as the 20th WR off the board, but this year he will not be the only show in Cleveland.   The Browns have brought in a PPR stud and reliable pass catcher Jarvis Landry who is being drafted 5 slots later as the 25th WR off the board.  Thats a lot of love for a team who didn’t win a game last year and is starting Tyrod Taylor and not Drew Breeze.  I like the idea of Josh Gordon's upside if he is sober and wants to win, but I don’t believe in it.  To quote our 43rd president, “fool me once, shame on—shame on you, fool me—point is you can’t get fooled again”.  I’m with you W, there is just too much going against Gordon and Landry in Cleveland.  Give me JuJu or Cooks before Gordon and give me Crabtree or Hogan before Laundry.  I wouldn’t advise going three deep in Browns WR’s but Corey Coleman is still a young talented player.  


David Njoku is being drafted as the 14th TE off the board.  In his rookie campaign he was only able to rack up 386 receiving yards.  Rookie TE’s rarely perform and it’s possible that he makes a big jump in year 2.  He most certainly has the pedigree as a prolific high-school WR and his first round draft status would suggest.  It’s not going to be easy keeping Gordon, Landry, Coleman, and Duke Johnson happy with targets.  I doubt there will be enough receptions left to make David Njoku a viable option at tight end.  




Don’t draft a Browns QB

Don’t draft a Browns RB for anything more than depth in this order (Chubb, Duke, Hyde)

If you are going to draft a Brown it should be Josh Gordon and I would fill out my WR slots with the Larry Fitzgerald types to balance out the boom and bust potential


Forget the rest of Cleveland.