The team with the most buzz this off season is probably the one by Lake Erie. That’s right, with their recent moves, the Buffalo Bills are still ready to be New England’s punching bag. The other team by Lake Erie however has made waves with the acquisitions of Morgan Burnett, Kareem Hunt, Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson, and their crowned jewel of the off season, Odell Beckham Jr. This has caused their Super Bowl odds to be as good as the league’s elites, despite finishing last season with a sub-500 record. Now that record may not fully reflect how good their team was because after the firing of Hue Jackson, they ended the season going 5-3 record. Now this is better, but it should be noted that these games were not against the best opponents. They beat a Falcons team that lost a lot of defensive starters to injury, a Carolina Panthers team in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, an uninspired Denver Broncos, and of course they also beat the Bengals twice. Needless to say I still have my doubts, especially since they only won that Broncos game by one point because of a sack by Jabrill Peppers who they traded away as a part of the OBJ deal.
What I’m trying to say is that I don’t buy these super bowl ambitions that they are selling and fantasy owners should be wary too. What I want to point out first is that this is Freddie Kitchens first head coaching job at any level in football and though he was an associate head coach under Gregg Williams after the Jackson firing. That was also his first season as an offensive coordinator after only being a position coach before last season. Also, coaches for other teams getting video on the Browns new outfit, specifically Baker Mayfield, can also work against them.
Sometimes rookies struggle and sometimes they thrive in their first season and I would say Baker Mayfield thrived. The spark he gave the Browns last season after replacing Tyrod Taylor was one that Clevelanders had been waiting for, but a common problem some QBs can have is the “sophomore slump” and with the changes going around the organization I think despite having a new head coach, I do think it was wise to have that new head coach be the coordinator that Mayfield had last season and it should be said that Mayfield still had the best season of any Browns QB in over a decade, at least fantasy wise. Though that’s not saying much being the Browns and such as according to fantasypros.com, Mayfield had the same amount of fantasy points last season as Eli Manning with 240. However that’s playing 2 less games and starting 3 less than Manning. So roughly estimating, he would have had around 275 fantasy points if he had started every game, which would have edged him up only one spot, putting him above Mitchell Trubisky. So, if he stays around that range next season, he would be a backup QB at best, but if he is able to build off last season then would make a solid backup and may even warrant being a starter for people in bigger fantasy leagues. However, the rest of the team I would not really recommend being your number one in their positions.
Though the defense was strengthened I still wouldn’t recommend having them on your team, unless you’re a masochist who likes to have 2 defenses on your roster. I would also recommend not having Greg Joseph on your roster, even if you want 2 kickers, he’s is a third option at best. Now the most intriguing part is the receiving core because it was probably the most effected with the addition of a top-flight receiver and I think it is almost guaranteed to take a hit in fantasy just because it was made better. Beckham was the undisputed WR1 in New York and still only ranked 16th in fantasy points among wide receiverslast year (according to fantasypros.com). Now he is playing alongside his college teammate of Jarvis Landry, who is a WR1 in his own, along with the budding prospect of Antonio Callaway and a top-10 tight end in David Njoku. With so many good options, Mayfield and Kitchens will most definitely try to spread the ball out to the chagrin of defenses and fantasy owners alike. Especially with a backfield that will most likely have Nick Chubb as the featured back. I predict both Landry and Beckham’s targets will drop and I think that at best they could be WR2 in fantasy leagues.
Though not as much of a worry and something to end on is that despite their not 10-plus loss season last year, this is still the team known as the Cleveland Browns and if there was any team that could cause as much young talent as they have to falter, it would be them.