Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Cleveland Browns

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Yup, things are definitely changing in Northeast Ohio.

The Browns cleaned house this offseason, canning head coach Rob Chudzinski and his staff after just one year, then removing team CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi. Ray Farmer, a long-time NFL personnel man, was named their new general manager, and soon after the team hired long-time defensive coordinator Mike Pettine as head coach. Both moves have been met with some skepticism but both men have done a nice job so far.

The Browns made quite a splash in free agency, signing linebacker Karlos Dansby, safety Donte Whitner, running back Ben Tate and receivers Andrew Hawkins, Nate Burleson, Earl Bennett and Miles Austin. Why all the receivers? Because last year's breakout sensation, Josh Gordon, is reportedly looking at a long suspension for a third violation of the league's substance abuse policy. After he put up 1,646 yards on 87 catches with nine scores while catching passes from a terrible collection of quarterbacks, the belief was that he would continue dominating. But who knows if he'll play? Maybe the Browns know he won't and that's why they added all those receivers.

But there's no doubt that the Browns' biggest splash of all wasn't a free agent or a receiver. It was a quarterback -- a controversial, playmaking quarterback named Johnny Manziel. The outgoing gunslinger out of Texas A&M is small in size but big in the spotlight as he gets attention wherever he goes. He also was one of the most polarizing college football players -- able to make amazing plays and produce a bumper crop of stats despite lacking in size and mechanics.

Opinions on whether or not he'll succeed in the pros range all over the map -- some people think he's a bust, others think he's a leader who could make a Super Bowl run. The Browns are hoping it's the latter.

Buckle up, Cleveland. It's going to be an interesting ride.

Long-term investment ... Johnny Manziel

The Browns are insisting that Brian Hoyer has a good chance to begin the season as their starting quarterback. That might be reason enough to not draft Manziel in a standard seasonal league. But even if Manziel gets on the field for the Browns, he'll have a wide receiving group that is void of playmakers until Gordon comes off the suspended list. If that lasts for the entire 2014 season, there won't be many good reasons to even claim Manziel off waivers during the Fantasy season. The real value for Manziel is in long-term formats like dynasty and keeper leagues. Once he's entrenched as the starter with an elite receiver like Gordon reliably on the field, the potential for Manziel will be sky-high. It seems unlikely such potential will be realized early on this season, so don't draft him.

Don't overrate him ... Ben Tate

Tate has a wonderful opportunity in Cleveland, but he's had mixed results with wonderful opportunities in the past. Take last year for instance -- he started the last six games of 2013 with the Texans and had a game way over 10 Fantasy points, another with 10, another with nine and three more with five or fewer. Maybe you could blame that on playing in an offense with a suspect passing game, but how might you classify the Browns' pass game this fall?! He also dealt with injuries then, but he's dealt with injuries throughout his career. And the Browns drafted a running back with plenty of potential in Terrance West -- there's no guarantee that he doesn't end up leading the way at some point this season. The best way to view Tate is as a back who should be able to grind his way to some nice totals assuming he stays healthy. The middle of Round 4 would be the earliest to consider taking Tate (with a ninth-round pick on West to back him up).

Sleeper ... Andrew Hawkins

2013 Touches Leaders
727 total touches
Willis McGahee 146 (138 car., 8 rec.) 20.1%
Chris Ogbonnaya 97 (49 car., 48 rec.) 13.3%
Josh Gordon 92 (87 rec., 5 car.) 12.6%
Jordan Cameron 80 rec. 11.0%
Edwin Baker 51 (43 car., 8 rec.) 7.0%
Fozzy Whittaker 49 (28 car., 21 rec.) 6.7%
All others 212 29.2%

Look, somebody's going to have to catch the ball in the Browns offense besides tight end Jordan Cameron (more on him later). Nate Burleson has a history of breaking things and is more of a wise old owl than a speeding eagle. Miles Austin has slowed down over the years and has a series of hamstring problems. Charles Johnson has interesting measurables but no experience. Earl Bennett has experience but is otherwise uninteresting. And Gordon is expected to be suspended. Here's what's cool about Hawkins: He's the guy the Browns targeted in restricted free agency, proof that they have an idea of how they want to use him. And Hawkins is speedy, a factor that always helps. It's also cool that owners can draft Hawkins with a late-round pick in standard leagues and a mid- to late-round pick in PPR leagues. He's not a big guy (5-foot-7, 180 pounds) and there's an injury history that has to be considered (he missed eight games last year) but with such a late pick, owners can overlook that for a chance at getting a highly-targeted receiver.

Schedule analysis

Being the Browns means always having a tough schedule thanks to two games each against the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals. Those opposing defenses should be a challenge against the run, but against the pass they have some holes. Expect a tough start for the run game as Cleveland opens at Pittsburgh, then vs. New Orleans and Baltimore before an early Week 4 bye. The silver lining is that three of the Browns' next four games are against the Titans, Jaguars and Raiders, three defenses expected to be pretty soft. But after that it doesn't look good for the Browns, as every opponent from Week 9 on should provide a semblance of a challenge. Because of that early bye and the relatively safe matchup in Week 5, we're ballparking Manziel's first start for Oct. 5 in Nashville.

Training camp battles

Does Manziel have a chance to start in Week 1? Of course there's a chance, but it will take a major demonstration of knowing the playbook and playing better than Hoyer. We haven't seen Hoyer play at a high level for more than a couple of games, and he's coming off of a torn ACL. So it's not like he's going to be handed the starting job either. But Hoyer does have NFL experience and the Browns start the season with a tough schedule. Those factors help Hoyer have a leg up on Manziel to begin the season as Cleveland's starter.

How will the WR depth chart shake out? No one expects Gordon to be available in Week 1 because of a looming suspension. Hawkins, Burleson and Austin are all new to the Browns and learning the team's new playbook. Hawkins seems like the best fit for the slot and anywhere else on the field they can hide him. Austin and Burleson seem like the best outside receiver fits. But younger players like Charles Johnson and Travis Benjamin along with veteran Earl Bennett will push hard for playing time. This is a mess, but one worth keeping tabs on if only to have some names in mind for your late picks.

Is Justin Gilbert a Week 1 starter on defense? Not every first-round cornerback comes into the NFL and plays well right away (isn't that right, Dee Milliner?). There are high hopes for Gilbert to assimilate into the Browns defense quickly, particularly because he was a Top 10 pick. But here's news for you: If Gilbert ascends to the starting lineup and plays like a veteran, this defense will be tough to poke holes in assuming it stays healthy. The cornerback spot opposite Joe Haden is one of two big question marks the Browns defense has going into camp -- far fewer questions than the franchise normally has.

Bold prediction

Gordon wasn't the only breakout pass catcher for the Browns last season -- Jordan Cameron also posted blow-away career-high numbers with 80 grabs for 917 yards and seven touchdowns. How he delivered those stats might not have been consistent (only five games with 10-plus Fantasy points including three in the first four weeks), but after being as productive as he was with a litany of mediocre quarterbacks suggests that he could deliver even more statistically. The Browns have upgraded at quarterback and if Gordon's out for a while, Cameron should be a consistent target in the passing game. Kyle Shanahan is the new offensive coordinator in Cleveland and while he doesn't have as prolific a track record with tight ends that former playcaller Norv Turner had, he still has utilized his tight ends well over his last six seasons. That should help Cameron plenty. Expect another big year for Cameron, one in which he eclipses his career-bests from a season ago. Consider him a Top 5 tight end worth a pick in Round 6 or 7.

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Report: Vikings RB Ben Tate will be active and have role Week 12
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:00 am ET) Vikings running back Ben Tate will be active and have a role on offense Sunday against the Packers, a source told NFL Network. Tate joined the Vikings just four days ago after being claimed off waivers from the Browns.

The Vikings' backfield is banged up heading into Week 12. Running back Matt Asiata will be sidelined due to a concussion, while running back Jerick McKinnon is listed as probable due to a lower back injury.


Report: Dolphins RB Lamar Miller will play at Denver
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:53 am ET) Dolphins running back Lamar Miller will play Sunday at Denver despite knee and shoulder injuries, a source told The Miami Herald.

Miller practiced in full Wednesday before being a limited participant Thursday and Friday. He is listed as questionable.


Ruling on Ray Rice's reinstatement expected early this week
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:46 am ET) A ruling on running back Ray Rice's reinstatement is expected early this week, according to CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. Rice is serving an indefinite suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

Rice's appeal of an indefinite suspension has been under review for 10 days. The judge's ruling is expected before Thanksgiving, with it possibly happening Monday.

Even if Rice is reinstated, he has been advised teams might shy away from him in the current climate. A return in 2015, however, could still be a possibility.


Broncos TE Julius Thomas unlikely to play Week 12
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:35 am ET) Broncos tight end Julius Thomas is unlikely to play Week 12 vs. Miami due to a sprained left ankle, sources told CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. Thomas is listed as questionable after missing practice all week.

Report: Browns' Josh Gordon to line up for 20-30 plays Sunday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:29 am ET) Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is expected to be on the field for 20-30 plays during his season debut Sunday against the Falcons, a league source told ESPN. 

Gordon is expected to start or rotate in quickly, according to NFL.com. The Browns are open to more reps, if Gordon is feeling good.

Gordon is returning from a 10-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He spent the last 11 weeks working out on his own. He did attend team meetings, but he couldn't participate in on-field team activities until this past week, when he practiced with the team for the first time since August.


LeGarrette Blount will be active for Patriots on Sunday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:21 am ET) Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount will be active Sunday against the Lions, according to CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. Blount is back with the Patriots following his release from the Steelers on Tuesday.

It is unknown how much work Blount will receive, but fellow running back Jonas Gray is also expected to be active Week 12, despite being sent home from practice Friday because he showed up late to the team's facility. ESPN is reporting Gray will not start Sunday.


Patriots running back Jonas Gray will be active Week 12
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:13 am ET) Patriots running back Jonas Gray will be active Sunday against the Lions, according to CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.

However, Gray has been told he will not start Week 12, according to ESPN. Game circumstances and production will dictate how much Gray plays, according to La Canfora.

Gray was reportedly sent home from practice Friday after he showed up late. It's unfortunate timing for Gray, who was a standout during a Week 11 win at Indianapolis. Gray rushed for 201 yards and four touchdowns last week.


Report: Bills expect running back Fred Jackson to play Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11/22/2014) Despite being listed as questionable for Monday’s game against the Jets, Bills coach Doug Marrone said running back Fred Jackson (groin) is in the team’s game plan, according to ESPN.

"We're planning on him to be ready to go," Marrone said, per ESPN. "Just take the injury and that's how we have to list it to protect ourselves."


Patriots make practice squad transactions
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11/22/2014) The Patriots announced defensive lineman Casey Walker has been signed to the team’s practice squad. To make room for Walker on the practice squad, the Patriots released linebacker Ja’Gared Davis .

Seahawks add T Andrew McDonald, release DT Jimmy Staten
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11/22/2014) The Seahawks added offensive tackle Andrew McDonald to their practice squad and released defensive tackle Jimmy Staten, reports Sports Radio KJR.

 
 
 
Rankings