The Browns offense has looked disastrous this preseason no matter who has been playing quarterback, but I still think there is potential fantasy football value to be found in Cleveland once the real games get underway. The Browns were dealt another blow today with the announcement that star receiver Josh Gordon’s season-long suspension will not be reduced. While it’s a tough blow for the Browns, it creates some nice potential value for fantasy owners. The receiver with the most potential to be a fantasy football factor with Gordon out is Miles Austin who will inherit the #1 receiver duties.
The Browns signed Austin this offseason after several successful seasons in Dallas. Austin had back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons in 2009 and 2010 but has struggled with injuries in the three years since and has only played one full season. That full season was two years ago in 2012 when he had solid numbers going for 943 yards and six touchdowns. Last season, he fell down the depth chart behind Terrance Williams and Dez Bryant and had just 24 catches in 11 games.
Austin may still have some fantasy value left in the tank, though, since he’s sure to get plenty of targets with Josh Gordon out of the picture. Brian Hoyer has looked very bad this preseason while holding off (barely) Johnny Manziel for the starting job, but let’s not forget that last year he did make Josh Gordon a breakout receiver and actually looked good before his ACL injury. As he continues to work his way back, Austin could quickly become his top target on the outside and worth owning based on his opportunity.
The limiting factor in the last few years for Miles Austin has been his hamstring injuries which can crop up on any route at any time. He definitely is a risky pick who could spend almost as much time on the sidelines as Gordon, but when your draft is winding down and you’re looking for depth, there are very few #1 options still available.
I would not pick Austin up in the middle rounds of any draft based on the risks, but if you need an option who will be on the field and get plenty of looks, Austin is a nice flier for as long as his hammy’s hold up.