Browns 2018 cleveland browns Fantasy Preview

Where do we even begin? The Browns' 10th-straight losing season culminated with a winless 2017 campaign and no players inside the top 20 for fantasy points at their respective positions. Second-round pick DeShone Kizer was thrust into the starting quarterback job and he racked up twice as many interceptions (22) as passing touchdowns (11). He added five rushing touchdowns, but his atrocious passing numbers derailed any value his rushing numbers might have given him. Isaiah Crowell was the Browns' leading rusher with 853 yards, but he finished with only two touchdowns. He was the RB30, making him a decent flex play in most leagues. Crowell's backfield counterpart Duke Johnson offered more fantasy value. Johnson had just 348 rushing yards, but he caught 74 passes for 693 yards and had seven total touchdowns (RB21 in STD, RB11 in PPR). He was a great flex play in standard leagues and a low-end RB1 or high-end RB2 in PPR. The Browns relied on Johnson so heavily in the passing game because of the struggles by their wideouts and tight ends. Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman were expected to stand out as the top two threats on the team, but they combined for just over 500 receiving yards in 18 total games. Britt signed a lucrative four-year deal, but was cut in December after catching only 18 passes for two touchdowns in nine games. Coleman, a first-round pick in 2016, had 23 catches and two touchdowns. Both had catch percentages below 50 percent. Former fantasy legend Josh Gordon came back from countless suspensions to play the final five games of the season and tally 335 receiving yards, just 22 yards behind leading receiver Ricardo Louis. Gordon looked good (WR20 in final five weeks), but that just shows how bad the wideout situation was in Cleveland. Browns tight ends Seth Devalve and David Njoku had similarly mediocre seasons, finishing with 33 and 32 catches and 395 and 386 receiving yards, respectively. Not a great year in The Land, both in fantasy and reality.



RB - Browns

FACT: While Johnson only rushed for a career-low 348 yards in 2017, he was third among all running backs in receiving yards (693) and fourth in receptions (93).
Offseason Moves

Cleveland was one of the busiest teams this offseason, which makes sense considering how 2017 went. The Browns traded for former Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (QB16 in 2017) and drafted Baker Mayfield first overall. Taylor comes into the season as the starter, but Mayfield will get a shot if things go awry. DeShone Kizer was traded to Green Bay, so it's just a two-man battle. Leading rusher Isaiah Crowell signed with the Jets, but the Browns picked up former 49er Carlos Hyde (RB11) and drafted Nick Chubb in the second round to complement Duke Johnson, forming a three-headed cluster in the backfield. Cleveland also made major changes to its wideout group. Dolphins Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry was traded to the Browns and promptly signed a five-year extension. Landry and Josh Gordon, who is finally on track to play his first full season since his monster 2013 campaign, will team up to form one of the top receiving duos in the league. If you don't believe me, just ask them. On paper, the only offensive skill position the Browns didn't drastically change was tight end. David Njoku (TE22) and Seth Devalve (TE31) are back and the team added Darren Fells (TE36) from Detroit. The Browns offense has much more fantasy potential at all positions in 2018.

Sleepers & Busts

The Browns have stocked up on high-level draft picks over the past few years, and some of them are bound to break out in 2018. They've had 13 top 35 picks since 2014, including three first-round picks in 2017. Tight end David Njoku was Cleveland's final pick (29th overall) of that first round, but he's the biggest sleeper on this offense. At the 2017 combine, he had the eighth-fastest 40-yard dash (4.64 seconds) among tight ends and was tops in vertical jump (37.5 inches), broad jump (133.0 inches) and the three-cone drill (6.97 seconds). Njoku is clearly an athletic specimen, but he wasn't put in the best position to perform last season. Erratic quarterback play limited him to 32 catches for 386 yards and four touchdowns, but the plays he did make left Browns fans asking why he wasn't getting more looks. Lots of defensive attention will go to Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry, so Njoku could see a lot of passes coming his way. He's absolutely worth a look as a backup fantasy tight end.

With two No. 1 options at wide receiver, either Jarvis Landry or Josh Gordon is going to regress. I'd bet on Landry to be that guy. He led the league with 112 receptions last year but was just 22nd in yards per game (61.7). New Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor threw for 2,799 yards last year (187 per game), only 133 more than Landry's former quarterback Jay Cutler. The bottom line is that there aren't a lot of receiving yards to go around, and a rejuvenated Gordon is going to be the top wideout in Cleveland. Landry will still be a good flex play with the upside of a WR2, but he will not repeat his 2017 season (WR5 in PPR).

Fantasy Depth Chart
QB Tyrod Taylor Baker Mayfield
RB Duke Johnson Carlos Hyde Nick Chubb
WR Josh Gordon Jarvis Landry Corey Coleman Antonio Callaway
TE David Njoku Darren Fells
K Zane Gonzalez