Brian Hoyer's Updated 2013 Fantasy Outlook Heading into Week 4

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIISeptember 23, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 22:  Brian Hoyer #6 of the Cleveland Browns looks to pass against the Minnesota Vikings on September 22, 2013 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer was a third-stringer not long ago, but he got the starting nod in Week 3 and made the most of his opportunity. The 27-year-old signal-caller threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns in guiding his team to a 31-27 road victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

In terms of fantasy value, Hoyer is a liability in terms of turnovers since he threw three interceptions on Sunday, but he's a solid fill-in option in the short-term for fantasy owners thin at QB.

The context of the Browns' situation is the main reason Hoyer is defensible as a viable fantasy option, at least for now.

When the new regime decided to trade Trent Richardson for a 2014 first-round pick last week, there was suddenly a dearth of running backs in Cleveland, which led to the acquisition of free agent Willis McGahee.

The veteran is set to turn 32 in October, and beyond him, only Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey are on the active roster. Ogbonnaya is the No. 1 fullback on the Browns' depth chart, and Rainey got his first NFL carries in Sunday's contest.

So it's safe to say that offensive coordinator Norv Turner will be leaning on Hoyer to air it out rather frequently.

That is a sound strategy also due to the return of dynamic wide receiver Josh Gordon from a two-game suspension. Gordon showed no signs of rust in catching 10 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown, and he threw in a 22-yard run to boot.

It could have been an even more productive day for Gordon, considering he was targeted 19 times. Hoyer had minimal reps with him throughout training camp, so it will be interesting to see how their rapport develops moving forward.

Gordon took the top off the Vikings defense and opened things up for third-down receiver Davone Bess and breakout tight end Jordan Cameron, who caught three of the Browns' four touchdowns, including the game-winner with 51 seconds left.

Incumbent starting quarterback Brandon Weeden is still recovering from a thumb injury, and head coach Rob Chudzinski is being coy on who will be the starter:

That's the only reason why Hoyer shouldn't be counted on long-term, although the Browns' brass reportedly feels Weeden isn't the organization's ultimate answer at the game's most important position.

Considering GM Mike Lombardi has a history of liking Hoyer and that he fared extremely well for his second NFL start, the inexperienced signal-caller is at least worth a flier as a spot start in the coming weeks.

Hoyer was able to get the ball out quicker than Weeden, which could help him retain the job for the foreseeable future on top of Lombardi's endorsement:

The Cincinnati Bengals' 15th-ranked pass defense isn't formidable, and the Browns protected Hoyer far better than they did Weeden in the first two weeks.

Perennial All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas totally shut down Jared Allen:

If Hoyer gets that type of protection, continues to place the ball properly and cuts down the interceptions, he could become a nice fantasy option in Week 4 at home against the division rival Bengals and even beyond.