Johnny Manziel Is Perfect Late-Round Lottery Ticket in Fantasy Leagues

Tim KeeneyContributor IAugust 17, 2014

Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel passes during practice at NFL football training camp in Berea, Ohio Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
Mark Duncan/Associated Press

During your fantasy football draft, it's best to attack the later rounds with the exact same mindset I believe Johnny Manziel has when he's in Las Vegas:

"Ehh, what the hell."

Contrary to popular belief, the final two rounds are not for drafting a kicker. They are for finding players with the most upside. And there are very few players with as much upside as Jonathan Football. 

Of course, before we get to that, it's worth noting that he has a pretty low floor. We'll know more on Tuesday, when head coach Mike Pettine officially announces his Week 1 starter, but it sure sounds like the rookie is currently behind Brian Hoyer. 

That's judging by Pettine's words, via's Judy Battista:

Johnny has definitely closed the gap. But Brian has gone out and done his job. There were a couple of throws he had in the game he'd like to have back, but that was his first live game back after the knee injury. That's not easy. I thought he was very poised, very confidence [sic]. I've heard people say when you have two quarterbacks, you don't have any. That's laughable to me. When you have two quarterbacks, you have two quarterbacks.

So, yeah. Drafting a player who may not even start his team's first game is a difficult proposition. But that's the whole point of the "ehh, what the hell" mantra. If your last few picks don't work out, it doesn't matter. You pick up someone else and move on. So you might as well shoot for the moon. If you hit the jackpot, you're putting yourself in a tremendous position. 

Manziel should be available in the final rounds. He's currently being selected as the 18th quarterback, he will quickly drop if he isn't named the starter, and he has top-12 potential. You aren't going to find many other players with as much promise in those late rounds. 

What makes him such a high-upside player is his unique skill set. 

Sure, he's not your typical pocket passer and will probably struggle with consistency out of the gate. But he's plenty capable of making the gambit of NFL throws, and more importantly for fantasy purposes, he is absolutely electric with his legs.

Manziel is as elusive as it gets, and in Kyle Shanahan's offense—the same one that made a fantasy stud out of dual-threat Robert Griffin III his rookie year—he will get a lot of options and designed runs. 

Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

"He's hard to stop," veteran wide receiver Nate Burleson said, via The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot. "He's doing good, man. I like what I'm seeing so far out of Johnny Football.''

Preseason is preseason is preseason, but we've already seen some of that magic from Manziel. He had an eight-yard run on an option, he scrambled for a 16-yard gain on 3rd-and-long, and he had a completion where he progressed to his third read—a dump off—for a completion despite facing pressure in the pocket. 

Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson applauded the latter, underrated play:

It won’t make any highlight reels, but this is the play that should give Browns fans hope that Johnny Manziel can indeed be a viable and successful NFL quarterback. This is the play that shows he isn’t just lightning in a bottle, but has the quantifiable, textbook traits that NFL quarterbacks need.

Even if it doesn't happen Week 1, Manziel is going to start soon enough. The Browns, a struggling franchise, didn't trade into the first round to draft him and let him sit behind Hoyer the Destroyer. 

And once that happens, you're going to want him on your bench. Because once he's starting, his explosive running ability will make him a must-own fantasy player—no matter how well he's throwing the ball.