After a surprising 10-6 finish in 2007, the Browns players made believers out of the front office, coaching staff and fans, only to fall flat on their face and finish eight games under .500 last year.
Cleveland’s 4-12 finish marked the eighth time since 2000 that the team has finished below .500 and because of this, head coach Romeo Crennel was fired from his tenure and replaced by Eric Mangini.
After being the so-called "fantasy football darlings" of ’07, many owners drafted the likes of Derek Anderson, Jamal Lewis, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow Jr. in hopes of a repeat season. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Derek Anderson struggled out of the gate and was replaced by Brady Quinn in Week 10, managing just nine touchdown passes, which was 20 less than his previous season.
Fresh off a resurgent ’07 season, Jamal Lewis was right back to mediocrity last season. The bruising running back averaged just 3.6 yards per carry and found pay dirt all of four times.
These are not the numbers fantasy owners expected when drafting Lewis as a No. 2 running back. The worst of the bunch was wide receiver Braylon Edwards.
After hauling in 1,289 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns the season before, Edwards was drafted in the middle of round two, only to see himself score three total touchdowns and finish amongst the biggest busts of the ’08 season.
Speaking of busts, Winslow was just that. Like Edwards, Winslow had a lot of hype entering the season, but nagging injuries cut his season short and because of this, the tight end was 682 receiving yards shy of his ’07 totals.
Eric Mangini (HC)—The Browns made a few offseason moves with the addition of David Patten (WR) and Robert Royal (TE). However, the biggest addition to the “Dawg Pound” was the signing of head coach Eric Mangini.
Mangini comes to Cleveland from the New York Jets, in which he coached four seasons and led the Jets to a 23-25 career record. Last season, Mangini coached the Jets to an 8-3 start only to see his team drop five of its next six games and ultimately fail to make the postseason for the third time in four years.
This meltdown led to the firing of Mangini in New York and the hiring of him in Cleveland. Under Mangini, look for the Browns to finally create an identity on both sides of the football, something they struggled with under Romeo Crennel.
Kellen Winslow Jr. (TE)—After going for 1,106 receiving yards and five touchdowns the year before, many fantasy owners drafted Winslow early, only to see him suffer through multiple injuries and a lack of production.
Winslow could only muster 43 receptions for 438 receiving yards to go along with three touchdowns. The sad thing about this is two of those touchdowns came in the same game.
With the Browns franchise wanting a fresh start and growing tired of his act, the team shipped him to Tampa Bay in exchange for draft picks. This will be a big blow for the offense, as they replace Winslow with Robert Royal, Steve Heiden and little known Martin Rucker.
ROOKIE TO WATCH
Brian Robiskie (WR)—After drafting offensive lineman Alex Mack in the first round, the Browns addressed their needs at wide receiver by taking Brian Robiskie out of Ohio State with the 36th overall pick.
Braylon Edwards has one of the receiver spots on lock-down, but with Donte’ Stallworth likely missing the season due to manslaughter charges, look for Robiskie to play right out of the gate.
What this means from a fantasy football standpoint is still in question. That will heavily depend on if the Browns can get ample play from the quarterback position and just how fast Robiskie adapts to the speed of the NFL game.
BRUNO BOYS SPOTLIGHT
Derek Anderson (QB) & Brady Quinn (QB)—Neither of these signal callers took advantage of their opportunities to take control of the starting quarterback job in Cleveland last year. Because of this, the Browns are left with the same questions surrounding their quarterbacks in 2009.
In 2008, the duo had more turnovers (12) than touchdown passes (11). For the Browns to compete in a tough AFC North division, this will have to change.
Quinn will enter the season as the starting quarterback but if he struggles out of the gate, don’t be surprised if Mangini turns to Anderson. Neither option possesses immediate fantasy value, but if the Browns can regain their 2007 form, expect whoever is starting to be a hot choice off the waiver wire.
For more fantasy football insight and advice, click the link below...