The ill-executed quarterback competition has ended, but that hasn't helped the Cleveland Browns offense execute any better. Both Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel turned in lackluster preseason performances against the St. Louis Rams Saturday evening at FirstEnergy Stadium.
From a fantasy perspective, unless owners are severely strapped at quarterback when their top options are on bye weeks, don't go near Hoyer or Manziel for the time being.
Hoyer has been named the Browns' starter, so he's the only one even worthy of consideration for some disaster scenario where a fantasy owner would have to spot start him.
Patrick Daugherty of Rotoworld highlighted the damage Hoyer did Saturday (10-of-16 passing, 84 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a 70.8 passer rating)—and in the preseason overall:
It doesn't help that the Browns have zero viable receivers outside of the to-be-suspended Josh Gordon, the unproven Andrew Hawkins and the oft-injured Miles Austin.
Nevertheless, an undeniable spark came to Cleveland when the hometown Hoyer was installed under center toward the beginning of 2013. Hoyer won two games, and after securing the starting job, albeit not by winning it or outplaying Manziel, he looked great in completing his first three passes versus the Rams.
Then Hoyer regressed and looked like exactly who he's been his entire career—a backup. Manziel may be a rookie, but Hoyer still looks as though he's making rookie mistakes in light of his interceptions, which USA Today's Jim Corbett broke down:
Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network noticed how Hoyer came out of the locker room:
Being a backup is the absolute upside Hoyer has as a fantasy quarterback. Nothing more.
Manziel came into the game, promptly scored on a seven-yard scramble and flashed the money sign. Kevin Jones of ClevelandBrowns.com observed the fan reaction:
Since the Browns are opting to sit Manziel at least at first as a rookie, his only fantasy worth is in keeper leagues.
That is, unless owners are really down on Hoyer's uninspired preseason performance and believe a changing of the guard under center will occur sooner rather than later.
Yes, Manziel was playing against second- and third-team Rams defenders, yet he still was getting lackluster blocking in front of him and was throwing to a cast of misfits that make up Cleveland's receiver depth chart. Given those circumstances, he still managed the seven-yard TD run and completed 10 of 15 passes for 85 yards.
There are so few explosive, playmaking threats on the Browns that both Hoyer and Manziel are in a position to fail. It's a concept Cleveland quarterbacks are all too familiar with since the franchise re-entered the NFL in 1999.
Making matters more confusing is this quote by Browns head coach Mike Pettine, via NFL.com's Kevin Patra:
And people have asked me about potentially a two-quarterback system and having a package for (Johnny Manziel). That is on the table. [...] I don't know if that's anything that we want to commit to just now, 'cause I think Brian, because of the competition, is a little behind, with the chemistry and continuity in working with that first group. I think that is something that we can potentially look at down the road.
The all-important quarterback spot continues to be an enigma in Cleveland—one that fantasy football owners should continue avoiding until further notice. Or until evidence surfaces that some semblance of a solution is in place to address the Browns' perpetual woes at the position.