The Browns routinely have very little to offer come fantasy football season. As a fan I see this as both a good and a bad thing.
On the one hand, I like my Browns not having anything to do with my fantasy universe; there’s less of a conflict of interest that way. I need the Browns to win on the field in reality, no matter how they do it.
I hate feeling relieved when they can’t convert in the red zone and settle for a field goal because Phil Dawson is my kicker.
I despise owning Steelers and Ravens, and anytime I start an opposing player against my Browns I feel like I have to ask my friends if they’re OK with it.
On the other hand though, having a Brown on your fantasy team can also be a lot of fun. I was head-over-heels in love with Derek Anderson for about two months in the 2007 season when I picked him up off the waiver wire and decided to keep him as my starter. I even traded then struggling Drew Brees for package of other positional players.
Note: As you probably guessed this was a total disaster. I traded Brees two games before he caught fire and set the NFL record for completions, and DA went into the tank a week later – in fact he’s never recovered. The team I traded Brees to won the championship on top of that, and it took me three years to earn back the trust and respect of my league. Oh well.
The point is when the Browns are winning and you have one of them on your fantasy team, you truly win double. That’s a beautiful thing no matter how long it lasts.
The Browns 2010 roster is not ripe with fantasy talent, but it won’t be as bad as last year either. There will be an opportunity for some of these players to make a difference. In fact, winning your fantasy league nowadays means nailing your draft, and getting lucky with an unknown along the way. An out-of-nowhere performance from any of these guys below could mean the difference between the championship and waiting for next year.
So with that in mind, do you draft him, keep your eye on him, or do you deserve to lose?
Jake Delhomme, QB Undrafted
Like the season in general, the Browns’ other fantasy players’ success will largely depend on the type of season Delhomme has in him. If Jake is completing passes and moving the chains on third down, your running back is going to stay on the field longer, your defense is going to stay off the field, and your receivers obviously are going to catch more balls. If Delhomme is rockin the house all the guys below become more valuable.
But keeping opposing defenses honest and giving the running game room to breathe is going to be Jake’s main objective to start, so a Chad Henne or Mark Sanchez in the last round of your draft may be a better bet for now.
Keep your eye on him though – if last season was an aberration Jake has it in him to be a decent spot starter or backup QB this year for your team. His job is more secure than Brady Quinn’s or Derek Anderson’s was last year, so he’ll play, and he’s not likely to get yanked mid-game.
Delhomme has the same bye-week as some decent fantasy alternatives in Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, and Kevin Kolb, so he can’t really help you there. If you drafted QB studs Drew Brees, Aaron Rogers, or Philip Rivers, then you would be subbing in Delhomme for their Week 10 bye, and the Browns matchup against the New York Jets = bad play with or without Darrelle Revis.
But, if you drafted Tom Brady you can use Delhomme Week 4 against Atlanta at home, and if you drafted Peyton Manning you can use Delhomme against New Orleans Week 5. With Jake playing in the NFC South his whole career I like both of these plays. Now things change in the NFL overnight, so this most certainly will too, but for now I think you’re better off waiting on Delhomme.
Jerome Harrison, RB 6th Round
We all want Harrison to get the ball more this year, but when push comes to shove you’d like to have two quality RBs on your team above him. He is a “flex play” in the kindest definition of the phrase. But I say you have to draft him this year and here’s why. Harrison has two great matchups this year: the Browns’ first two games against Tampa and Kansas City. Want to get off to a good start? Ask yourself this: if you knew the player you took in round 6 was going to win you 2 games, you’d take him right?
In line with that, Monatario Hardesty’s injury is going to set him back more than people want to admit. Eric Mangini is not one to give the ball to a rookie either, so for at least the early part of the season, Harrison is a safer play. Also, the biggest knock on Harrison is he is smaller back who can’t carry the load for a full 16 games; that’s why he is not an elite player getting drafted high. But if he’s going to wear down, chances are it won’t happen by Week 2.
The Browns offense is going to be underrated, so unless you are in a Cleveland fan heavy draft, Harrison is going to be devalued and slide down the board. I would be concerned that the Browns wouldn’t force the ball to him at the goal line though.
Montario Hardesty, RB 9th Round
Hardesty has a ton of potential and he is going to get drafted this year in most leagues. Those every-down backs are hard to find and it’s worth taking a shot at one, especially if you can get him late and keep him on your roster for cheap next season. That’s really were his value ends though.
Rookie players who miss significant portions of training camp do not contribute consistently their first season. Hardesty is missing 2-3 weeks with a twisted knee (that’s not a blister, that’s a twisted knee on a running back), and when he returns he’ll have to play catch-up. The Browns have Peyton Hillis to matchup with Harrison, and even a healthy James Davis to give it a go this season. The position is not wide open for Hardesty.
If you’ve got good depth at RB and Hardesty is there for you in the 8th or 9th round I say draft him, but beware, the possibly is strong he won’t be a meaningful fantasy contributor for a while.
Peyton Hillis, RB Undrafted
Hey, I love that the Browns traded for this guy. I love his game. In the fantasy universe only, this is a complete disaster. The guy stinks of Mike Alstott. He’ll vulture away TDs from the other Browns backs you should be looking to draft, and he won’t be consistent enough to risk a start on at any point in the year. He’s been a fantasy relevant player for 3 weeks his entire career (actually more than a lot of these guys), plus he’s an injury risk too.
Mohamed Massaquoi, WR 11th Round
I owned Massaoui last year, and as waiver wire pickup 3rd WR fill in he was just so so. He had four decent games: Cincinnati Week 4, Pittsburgh Week 6, Detroit Week 8, and Oakland Week 15. That’s really too much hot and cold to trust with regular starts.
The other issue is with a new receiver and/or new quarterback, half the battle is just waiting to see where the chemistry develops. Last year DA liked him and accounted for 292 of 624 total yards and 2 of his 3 TDs in 3 games. This year, it’s Delhomme, and anyone could become his go-to guy.
Another down side is Massaquoi will draw the number-one cover man on the opposing team most weeks. Brian Robiskie and Chansi Stuckey and not burners on the other side, so you are going to see a lot of teams makes it their mission to keep Massaquoi in front of them.
That’s too many question marks for me, but I would still say draft him. Like I said, Delhomme could decide he loves flinging the ball his way, and the second year receiver could very reasonably show a jump in development this season. If you are keeping players you might want to take a shot at him later in the draft because he is a young decent prospect.
In the end the Browns are a running team, so picking up Massaquoi with any higher hope than he’ll be a lightening in a bottle bench guy is a big leap of faith. We are all about that in Cleveland though right?
Brian Robiskie, WR Undrafted
I drafted Robiskie last year and sent him packing after two weeks. It wasn’t pretty. I am going to have to say if you draft Robiskie this year you deserve to lose. This is not to say he can’t contribute to a team, but there is more doubt surrounding the Browns offensive improvement than assurance. Again, if you’re in an all Cleveland draft, let your OSU fan buddy take him and see what happens. In all likelihood he’ll be available for you on the waiver wire. Robiskie doesn’t have the speed, experience, or surrounding cast to make an impact on your team yet.
Chansi Stuckey, WR Undrafted
You go with 3rd string receivers if their quarterback is a Brees or a Manning. Stuckey is going undrafted this year for good reason, and if you take him you deserve to lose.
Ben Watson, TE, Undrafted
With the Browns receiving options so uncertain this year I say draft him, but nobody is going to steal him for you so be patient. This is more my philosophy on tight ends in general but… to get one of the top 5 elite guys you have to draft them too high for it to be worth it. The rest of the TEs can be had late in the draft and they all produce about the same amount. You just want a guy who is going to get the ball in the red zone every now and again. If you draft Antonio Gates, good for you, I drafted Tony Romo that round, I win.
So my advice would be resist those early TE studs and take a gamble on a guy like Watson near the end of the draft. That way you miss small because you aimed small. The Browns don’t have a reliable red zone target yet, through one scrimmage Watson has their only TD, and they didn’t sign him because they love Robert Royal. The Patriots threw the ball to Randy Moss and Wes Welker, not the TE position. Ben Watson is going to get the ball with the Browns.
Robert Royal, TE Undrafted
I basically invented this category just to use it as a joke about Royal. Unless your league awards 2 points each time a player drops a ball that hit him in the face, drafting him means you deserve to lose. Braylon Edwards would dominate that league by the way.
Evan Moore, TE Undrafted
Nice looking player, but has a history with injuries and appears to be the boutique 2nd team TE behind Ben Watson. There aren’t enough balls to go around in this offense for him. But if Watson fails to develop that all important chemistry long term with Delhomme, or he goes down with an injury, keep your eye on Moore.
Phil Dawson, K 16th Round
Draft him. He should be there for you in the last round and that’s where you should be taking your kicker. Anybody taking Nate Kaeding in the 13th round deserves to lose. Plus, fulfill your obligation to the football gods by taking a Brown if you have none by the end of the draft. The difference between the #5 kicker in fantasy and the #20 kicker is 40 points, or 2.5 points per week. Like I said above, the Browns offense will be better, but they won’t make to the end zone every single time (did you know the Colts kicked 16 field goals last year, good for 30th in the league).
Browns Defense/Special Teams, Undrafted
I gotta say, this unit really could surprise people this year. If I am looking for a team to start my players against, Cleveland’s soft D has been a great matchup for years. But their personnel has changed a lot and they stand a chance to really improve. They’ll get run over by a few teams too I imagine, but I don’t want to be guessing my RB’s matchup is a good one, I want to know, and the Browns present just enough doubt for me to be cautious against them.
But not to draft. The Browns’ defense did sack the QB last year, but they didn’t score a touchdown and only Oakland, St. Louis, and Detroit managed fewer interceptions. Their saving grace as always is the play of Josh Cribbs on special teams. I still say if you draft them you deserve to lose because in the end this defense will still be a bad play 10 out of the 16 games.
Josh Cribbs, WR and Special Teams Ace Extraordinaire, 15th Round
The only player good enough to get the worst defense in the league a look in your fantasy draft, plus a slot on your squad all to himself. Let me guess, if you were in a Cleveland fan heavy draft last year people were jumping all over themselves to draft Cribbs once it was announced his role in the offense was going to be expanded. The results were mixed. Cribbs scored more points than WRs Justin Gage, Eddie Royal, Mark Clayton, Reggie Brown, and Lance Moore, but was still at best only a 5th WR on most teams.
That being said, if your league counts special teams scores you might want Cribbs for an emergency WR off your bench. He’s going to hit for a TD return in probably 3 games this year, maybe 4. He’ll get a handful of carries and maybe even a catch or two, maybe. Keep your eye on him, especially if Delhomme goes down with injury or stinks too bad to play. If the Browns turn to Seneca Wallace at any point of the 2010 I say get you some Cribbs ASAP because the their trick/wildcat playbook would expand instantly.