The Cleveland Browns named Brian Hoyer their starting quarterback ahead of Johnny Manziel as they prepare for their third preseason game. While the situation is worrisome for fantasy football owners, the rookie sensation still possesses more upside for 2014.
Cleveland confirmed the decision early Wednesday:
BREAKING: Brian Hoyer to lead Browns, named starting quarterback. pic.twitter.com/EGKWJ5t2pZ— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 20, 2014
It's the right call in terms of leading the offense at this stage. He's the more experienced option and did flash some strong play during limited action last season. Since neither quarterback lit it up during the first two exhibition games, he gets the job almost by default.
The problem is Hoyer enters an extremely challenging situation. The calls for Manziel are going to amplify with every bad throw. He could come out of the gates with two strong starts, but if he struggles in the third game there will be loud calls for "Johnny Football."
Mary Kay Cabot of the Northeast Ohio Media Group provided remarks from the starter following his poor outing in the second preseason content. He downplayed the idea he was pressing.
"No, I don't think (I'm pressing) at all,'' Hoyer said. "I don't think I am. Things in a game are a little different than a practice. So it's not anything that it's pressing. If I'm thinking about trying to make the perfect throw, it's not going to [happen]. I've just got to go out and do it, and there's no excuse for it."
Whether he's pressing, being too fine or something else, his margin for error once the regular season gets underway is incredibly small.
That's bad news for his fantasy value. He's nothing more than a backup option to begin with and the fact he might not keep the job long enough to help when your starter goes on bye severely limits his value. He should only be drafted in the deepest of leagues.
NFL Fantasy Talk doesn't believe he belongs on the fantasy radar:
@Browns have decided QB Brian Hoyer has won the competition and will start Week 1. Shouldn't be on your fantasy radar regardless.— NFL Fantasy Talk (@NFLFantasyTalk) August 20, 2014
As for Manziel, there's still some appeal due to his potential. Should he be handed the reigns of the offense before midseason, there's a good chance he could have starter value to owners without a top-10 quarterback on their roster at that stage of the season.
The question is whether it's worth using a bench spot to stash him for an unknown period of time. Whenever he gets named the starter, which seems highly likely at some point in 2014 unless Hoyer vastly exceeds expectations, there will be a mad dash to the waiver wire.
Getting out in front of the curve and drafting him in one of the final rounds shouldn't be taken off the table. But it's a better option for a team that doesn't get an elite quarterback rather than a team with somebody like Peyton Manning, in which case it's best to take a more reliable veteran reserve.
Which Browns QB will score more fantasy points in 2014?
Don't write off Manziel's potential value, either. Remember, Tim Tebow averaged better than 14 fantasy points per game in 2011 across 14 games (11 starts). Those are fringe starter numbers, illustrating the value of a dual-threat quarterback, even if they aren't the best option in the real world.
Ultimately, most fantasy owners will probably opt to stay away from the Browns' quarterback situation altogether and that's understandable. But if you're looking for added depth at the position, Manziel is the better long-term option than Hoyer.
It's a boom-or-bust selection that might not pay off, but the risk will be limited in the late rounds and it's better than hoping to nab him off the free-agent market later on. At worst, you can drop him should Hoyer entrench himself as the starter after the first month.