Ha that title was pretty funny. But seriously, for all those fans that are not quite immersed with Ohio State’s game today versus the Naval Academy, or to those that are just plain old obsessed with fantasy football like me, this feature is for you. I am here to discuss what players for the Browns this season will potentially be productive in terms of your fantasy league, what sleepers there might be and what the value is of some of our supposed stars. I know that in my own league with my brother and his friends, it has always been an odd tradition to avoid Cleveland players, but this could be the year (along with 2007) that that trend sort of fades.
Two years ago, if you had managed to snag Derek Anderson as a waiver wire acquisition or managed to steal Braylon Edwards as a second or third receiver, you were an absolute genius. They both shot up in terms in fantasy production, finishing the year within the top five in their respective positions as well as former Brownie Kellen Winslow. It was an awesome year to be a Browns fan, but last year the team reverted to form and Cleveland fans saw the same old disappointing season that is a big reason why this site is called WFNY after all. Without any further discussion of the past, I will now jump into what to expect and where to rank many of the top contributors for the Browns in 2009:
Quarterback: Brady Quinn will undoubtedly have the eventual edge in terms of snaps taken this year, and thus he should be regarded as a low-end back up quarterback in 12-team leagues. He should be considered in the 25-29 range or so for quarterbacks this season with Derek Anderson another dozen or so behind. It is not that both players are poor on the field nor that the Browns will necessarily be miserable through the air, it is just incredibly hard to trust either for consistent production during the entire season. If Anderson gets traded to a team where he could potentially start I could see him having some fantasy value, but you have to be very desperate to want a Cleveland QB on your team at all this season.
Running Back: Until further notice, Jamal Lewis remains the most valuable fantasy running back on the Browns. In his two years with the team, he has averaged about 280 carries, 25 receptions, 1,350 total yards and 7.5 touchdowns. While those are not Adrian Peterson-like numbers, those are still quite productive and prove that he could be worth a spot start if he remains on the team heading into the regular season. He should be considered a low-end number three at this point, with the two men behind him on the depth chart as much more useful options. Jerome Harrison may still be hurt but has averaged 5.8 yards per carry in 77 attempts over three seasons and probably will get many more looks this year while James Davis has been one of the biggest surprises in the preseason thus far. Both are sleepers to take an extended look at for your fourth or fifth running back position in any league.
Wide Receiver: Yuck. I know, I know Braylon Edwards led the league with 16 drops last season and pretty much is entirely responsible for his fall from a safe number one WR option to a decent second or third receiver. He has good upside as a low-risk third receiver for most teams but eventually could turn things around enough with consistent play in order to become a top ten receiver again. No one really knows what could happen in the end.. After Edwards, rookies Brian Robiskie and Mohmmed Massaquoi have some potential value as late-round sleepers but should not be counted on just yet for immediate production. Their true usefulness will come later in the season if/when Edwards is potentially out of town and the two young guys can work on a chemistry with Quinn for potential future success.
Tight End: Following last season, K2 seemed like the only top tier Browns player until he was then traded to the Tampa Bay Bucs. If you are truly digging for a super steal, I might want to do some research on Robert Royal or Martin Rucker as possible waiver wire acquisitions, knowing the history of the Browns with tight ends in the past decade. Winslow might have been the only reason for such production, but I have a feeling that either Royal or Rucker will be a moderately productive option by the end of the season. Don’t worry about them at all on draft day, but I would keep an eye on them down the road if you are truly thin at the position like I usually am.
Kicker: Two years ago, getting a Cleveland kicker in Phil Dawson was not such a bad idea since the offense was scoring like crazy. After last season’s debacle however, it would definitely be advisable to steer clear of Dawson this entire season. Kickers are so random in their production and there is no way to tell if an offense is too good for a kicker to be productive, but I have a strong conviction that Dawson is not in the above average tier no matter what.
Defense/Special Teams: Although the casual fan might think that the presence of unhappy Josh Cribbs alone might make the Browns a possible option as a DST, it just doesn’t work that way. Much like Dawson, the Cleveland DST is in the lower half of the league and thus should be ignored almost all season long unless something extraordinary occurs. Check back in two years and maybe then you might want to take a look at the fantasy value of the Browns DST.
(Photo courtesy of Gary Wieperts/REUTERS)