Iím not sure how long Cleveland will carry this many quarterbacks,
but for the time being, Iím going to lump these three guys into
one writhing mass of quarterback mediocrity. Kessler, the second
year holdover from 2016 had a strange rookie season. He started
the year off as the 3rd- string developmental quarterback, but was
thrust into the lineup Week 3 after both RGIII and Josh McCown went
down with injuries. The former Trojan ended up going winless in
his starts and got battered around a bunch, but ended up not embarrassing
himself in the games he was able to play in. He completed 65% of
his passes and had a strong 6-2 touchdown to interception ratio.
His limited work in 2016 earned him the starting role to begin 2017.
If he can stay healthy, I think his experience, intelligence, and
moxie will be able to hold off Kizer for the near future.
Speaking of Kizer, heís the long-term future of this franchise.
Heís likely to see snaps at some point this year, later than
sooner if Cleveland has its way. Heís got some work to do
to be ready to lead an NFL team into battle, and I donít see
the benefit of having him playing before he is ready. He had a bitter
end to his college career, but has the physical gifts to be a starter
in this league. If heís starting for this team things have
either gone incredibly wrong (again), or heís accelerated
far quicker than anyone imagined.
The Browns are playing the long game here at quarterback and I don't
think Osweiler realistically fits into their plans. One of the bigger
busts in recent free agent history, Osweiler is an NFL backup and
nothing more. If the young guns show well, I wouldnít be surprised
if heís cut toward the end of camp. That being said, no quarterback
on this roster is worth re-draft consideration. There may be some
very sneaky DFS league value on a week against a terrible defense,
but thatís as far as Iíd go.
Crowell has displayed tantalizing fantasy promise since rushing
for 8 touchdowns as an undrafted free agent rookie in 2014. In the
two years since, heís steadily improved, increasing his role
in the passing game and serving as one of the few reliable offensive
weapons on a terrible team. Crowell stood out last year in fantasy
circles when he finished as a strong RB2, putting up 4.8 yards per
carry behind a suspect offensive line. His 1,200-plus total yards
easily led the team, and with a revamped offensive line, more weapons
outside, and hopefully a more stable quarterback position, the fourth-year
back has a real chance to take another leap forward.
Cleveland is committed to running the football, and more favorable
gameflow should push Crowell past 200 carries for the first time
in his career. Heís young, supremely athletic, and is looking
for a big payday as a free agent in 2018. Crowell wonít turn
25 until after the season, and I love him as a dynasty prospect,
but I have to temper my expectations in redraft leagues simply because
his scoring potential is limited on what still should still be a
bad team. Unless one of the quarterbacks shows well, this offense
is going to struggle to get in the red zone frequently, and a big
part of Crowell turning the corner and approaching RB1 status is
finding the endzone with more frequency. I think he stays in the
RB2 area, sets career highs in carries and yardage, and becomes
a solid running back to pair with a stud.
Other than being slightly more efficient on the ground last year,
Duke Johnson has been the exact same player during his two years
in the league. Drafted in 2015 to be a receiving threat out of the
backfield, Johnson has lived up to the role, finishing with the
4th and 6th most receptions among running backs in his two years
with the Browns. With Isaiah Crowell handling the early down and
goal line work, Johnson is left to fight for scraps. A more direct
route to playing time could come in the slot, where heís worked
at times this off-season. Cleveland doesnít have a reliable
slot receiver, and Johnson is comfortable running routes. An uptick
in targets and receptions could definitely make him more attractive
in PPR formats, but his lack of touchdowns (3 career) and consistent
backfield work make him a FLEX player at best in standard formats.
Oh what a year 2016 could have been for the second-year pro out
of Baylor. After a 5-104-2 line in only his second NFL game, Colemanís
litany of injuries (hand, hamstring) helped to contribute to his
wholly ineffective season. Despite the outlandish upside, Coleman
again missed precious off-season work with more lower body injuries,
and has only recently been cleared for camp. Cleveland desperately
needs a big season out of their former 1st rounder, and there is
no doubt Coleman has the talent to deliver. If he can manage to
stay on the field, he and Kenny Britt should form a fine duo for
the gang of Cleveland quarterbacks. Coleman needs improved chemistry
and consistency, as he caught only 42% of the passes thrown his
way, far below the 60-65% that most outside receivers average.
Coleman is another young Brown I have a hard time getting overly
excited about. The injury history certainly turns me off, but the
raw talent and potential is intoxicating. Until Cleveland can get
some consistent quarterback play, the offense is going to be held
back, therefore limiting the ceiling Coleman has. Iíd certainly
be happy to have him on my team as a WR3/4 that has a WR2 ceiling
if things really come together. Heís young and talented enough
to take a flier on later in your drafts, and has more upside than
teammate Kenny Britt.
Despite some of the worst quarterback play in the league last year,
Britt, the 9th year vet, was able to put up low end WR2 numbers
for the Rams. For a guy that likely went undrafted in many leagues
in 2016, Britt was a strong fantasy value. He came out of a career
long funk to set career highs in yardage and receptions . Considered
a big bust for much of his career, Britt was able to parlay the
big year into a multi-year deal with the Browns. Britt is the kind
of player Cleveland needs during its rebuild. Heís a veteran
with enough juice left to be an asset, but wonít take away
from the opportunities of the younger guys. He gives the Cleveland
quarterbacks a big target who can get downfield and get open. Unfortunately
for fantasy purposes, itís likely that 2016 will be Brittís
career year, so expecting a WR2 repeat is bad business. I think
he ends up being a fine WR3/4 with very little upside for more.
Iíd certainly be looking for higher ceiling players around
the time Brittís name gets called in my drafts.
The fact rookie tight ends rarely make a fantasy impact is no secret.
It’s been written about and discussed numerous times, but
I have a nagging feeling that Njoku will be in a few starting lineups
at some point this year. The Browns traded up to select the supremely
athletic tight end from Miami, and he has a direct path to playing
time after the release of veteran Gary Barnidge. He’s certainly
raw, turning 21 just recently, but he can block, runs like a deer,
and has a robust 6’4’’ frame that will make him
a match-up nightmare. The Browns don’t have a legit slot receiver,
so look for Njoku to line up all over the field and be part of the
weekly game plan. He’s a tremendous dynasty selection, and
if things break right, could approach 50 receptions, which would
certainly give him a crack at low end TE1 value. Njoku is a guy
I’m looking to add to my teams as my back-up tight end with
the hope he develops into a trade chip or starting asset by later
in the season.