Browns fantasy question: Can WR Edwards return to elite status?

Browns burning fantasy question:Will Braylon Edwards rebound and become an elite fantasy receiver?

Fantasy owners who spent a second- or third-round selection to land Edwards last season had to feel pretty good about the move. After all, he was coming off a breakout 2007 campaign that saw him post 80 receptions, 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns. Unfortunately, Edwards didn't duplicate those totals in 2008.

Browns top-5 fantasy players

  1. Braylon Edwards
  1. Jamal Lewis
  1. Brady Quinn
  2. Jerome Harrison

Sleeper: James Davis

In fact, he wasn't even close.

The veteran finished with 25 fewer receptions, 416 fewer yards and 13 fewer touchdowns. A total of 31 wide receivers would finish with more fantasy points on, a list that included Lance Moore, Eddie Royal and Steve Breaston.

Those three wideouts had another thing in common besides being more productive than Edwards -- none of them were even selected in most fantasy drafts.

Edwards also contracted a serious case of the dreaded "dropsies," as he hauled in a mere 40 percent of the 138 targets he received. By comparison, Andre Johnson made good on 68 percent of his targets, and Larry Fitzgerald hauled in 62 percent of the passes thrown his way.

On a positive note, Edwards is in a contract year and should be motivated to produce between the white lines. But financial motivation isn't always enough for a player to find statistical success, especially in a situation like the one Edwards finds himself in this season.

All signs seem to point to Brady Quinn opening as the team's Week 1 starter. While he's talented and should make strides, he has attempted just 97 passes at the NFL level. In three starts last season, Quinn threw just two touchdowns passes -- both came in the same game against a Broncos defense that ranked among the league's worst against the pass.

Edwards will also see more than his share of defensive attention without an established complement in the offense. The Browns traded tight end Kellen Winslow to the Buccaneers in the offseason, so rookie Brian Robiskie appears to be the team's second-best option in the pass attack. Robiskie is a good low-end sleeper, but whether he can make an immediate impact and draw defenses from Edwards is a real long shot.

The last troublesome fact about Edwards and his chances to re-establish himself as an elite fantasy wideout is the offense itself.

The Browns will lean on Jamal Lewis and the run quite a bit under new coach Eric Mangini, whose passing offense in New York left much to be desired. Even with future Hall of Famer Brett Favre under center last season, neither Laveranues Coles nor Jerricho Cotchery were able to reach the 1,000-yard mark.

In fact, neither of these veteran wideouts even reached the 900-yard mark under Mangini in 2009.

Edwards should improve on his dismal totals from a season ago, but drafting him with the thought that he'll return to his impressive 2007 form will likely lead to disappointment. Instead, a season with around 1,000 yards and five to seven touchdowns should be expected.

Edwards should be seen as a No. 2 fantasy wideout and worth a middle-round selection in most drafts.

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