Cleveland Browns Season Preview
The Browns finished last season 7-9, and they look to improve upon that record this season. The Browns made some moves during the offseason that could impact the team’s profile for fantasy production. They signed QB Josh McCown, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, and receiver Brian Hartline. They also made a splash in the 3rd round of the NFL draft by drafting running back Duke Johnson. Could the Browns string something together this season and possibly make it into the playoffs? That is a question that we ask ourselves every year, but this could be the year for them to crack through and make the playoffs if the ball bounces their way.
McCown finished last season ranked as QB 28 with 186.50 fantasy points, and he averaged 16.96 fantasy points a game. McCown missed 5 games last year due injuries, which hampered his yearly total for fantasy points. McCown had 7 games with 10 fantasy points or more, and 6 games with 20 fantasy points or more. Last season McCown was paired up with a very talented wide receiver core with Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. McCown signed with the Browns during free agency, and now he has a totally different wide receiver core. He now has an aging Dwayne Bowe as his #1 receiver and Brian Hartline as his #2 receiver on the other side of Bowe. This season McCown will have a ceiling of a QB2 in fantasy with a floor of just being waiver wire fodder. I think McCown might be good streaming option this season during weeks where he’s facing a favorable match-up.
Unless you’re in a real deep league, Manziel is not a player you’re going to draft on your team. Manziel will hold fantasy value with his rushing ability if he gets the opportunity to start. The Browns aren’t going to be good this year, and if things get rough, head coach Mike Pettine might decide to roll out Manziel to get him some experience. Manziel’s rushing ability will elevate his floor to a QB2, and he may have the potential to be a QB1 in some weeks if he becomes the starter.
Crowell finished last season ranked 35th among running backs in fantasy scoring 122.40 fantasy points. Crowell had 5 games where he scored 10 fantasy points or more. With an inefficient passing game, the Browns are going to look to run the ball a lot. The Browns have a cluster at running back with Crowell, Terrance West, and rookie Duke Johnson on the roster. I look for both West and Johnson to eat away at some of Crowell’s touches. I think Crowell is a very talented runner, but I feel that Cleveland’s offense isn’t going to be productive enough for him to have a high enough ceiling for you to feel comfortable starting him on a weekly basis.
Johnson was drafted by the Browns in the 3rd round of this year’s draft. Johnson is going to be available late in your fantasy drafts, and your more than likely going to be able to snag him off waivers after week 1. Draft Johnson late or keep him on your watch list, especially in PPR leagues, because the Browns are going to be behind in a lot of games and they are going to use him a lot on passing downs, which will equate to a lot of receptions.
I feel that West is going to be the odd man out when it comes to the Browns backfield. He’s not as talented as Crowell, and Duke Johnson is going to take away a lot of the passing down opportunities. I don’t think West is going to get enough work to become fantasy relevant, unless there was an injury to either Crowell or Johnson.
Last year while playing for the Kansas City Chiefs Dwayne Bowe finished the season ranked 57th among wide receivers in fantasy production with 135.40 points on the year. Bowe had 5 games last year with 10 or more fantasy points. Even though Bowe is with a new team I can still see him with similar production compared to last year. The Browns offense isn’t anything to brag about when it comes to production. Bowe should be considered in the latter portion of your draft, because he will get opportunities, and will provide solid depth for your fantasy team.
While Hartline was playing for the Dolphins last season he managed to finish the season ranked 76th in fantasy production among wide receivers with 99.90 points on the year. Hartline only had 2 games with 10 or more fantasy points. I’m not very excited about Hartline this year in fantasy. He might be worth drafting late this year, but I think there are better options you could go with that will give you more upside. I can’t see Hartline improving much from last year’s fantasy production.
Hawkins finished last year ranked 46th among wide receivers in fantasy production with 164.90 fantasy points. Hawkins had 7 games last year where he scored 10 or more fantasy points. Hawkins is more valuable in PPR leagues. I like Hawkins the best out of all the Brows wide receivers, because he will soak up a lot of the receptions, and will be a PPR monster. In standard scoring leagues I would stay away from Hawkins, because you aren’t going to get the floor that he provides in PPR leagues. Hawkins will provide solid depth at the end of your bench this year in fantasy and will be a great flex option for your team during a lot of weeks.
I’m not a fan of the Browns tight ends, but I recommend adding Housler to your watch list this season. Housler is a highly athletic tight end who can stretch the seams of the defense with his speed. Housler fits the athletic mold of Jordan Cameron, and has the potential to produce like Cameron. If you love drafting your tight end late, or you love streaming tight ends, Housler is a guy you should have on your radar.
Defense/ Special Teams
The Browns DST finished last season ranked 17th in the league in fantasy points scoring 104 points. (ESPN standard leagues) The Browns DST had 4 games where they scored 10 or more fantasy points. I look for the Browns to have a similar season this year. They are going to be a great streaming candidate during favorable match-ups this season.
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