Cleveland has been a desolate wasteland for fantasy performers since the team’s return in 1999. Dynasty league owners have long looked the other way when mining for talent in their respective leagues. Last year showed little promise for many Browns players in dynasty leagues. Cleveland was finally prompted to make some needed changes. With the hiring of Mike Holmgren to the front office this offseason, hope has again returned.
The Browns have jettisoned their quarterbacks by letting Derek Anderson go to Arizona and trading Brady Quinn to Denver. They’ve also used this offseason to reload their offense with some valuable skill position players.
While it’s likely going to be some time before many these players make a huge impact in dynasty circles, they’re certainly worth analyzing now to project their future impact.
Let’s take a look at Cleveland in the latest edition of the dynasty capsule.
Players in their Prime
Jerome Harrison RB
This former Washington State Cougar finally got his chance to shine when Jamal Lewis was shelved for the year. He responded by rushing for 862 yards and five touchdowns, including an amazing 561 yards in the last three weeks of the season.
So, what’s the problem? Harrison had a ridiculous 106 carries those last three games, which would equate to around 560 carries for a season. That’s simply too big of a workload for any player, especially one who stands 5’9” and weighs around 200 pounds.
Harrison is likely going to be used as a change of pace to rookie running back Montario Hardesty. He made his mark in the league and earned his chance to play each and every week. Just don’t expect the explosion we saw last year again, especially without the luxury of the goal-line work that should go to Hardesty.
Josh Cribbs WR/KR/PR/QB
Cribbs is as unique a player as we have in the NFL or in fantasy football. He’s also the prime value case study in a debate of fantasy versus reality.
His value to the Browns is enormous. He can make plays in the return game and also by throwing, running, or catching the ball out of wildcat packages. Simply put, he’s a difference maker in reality.
The problem for dynasty league owners is that his value just doesn’t usually translate to fantasy points, especially in leagues that don’t reward return yardage. After all, he had just 135 rushing yards, and 452 receiving yards to go with two total touchdowns. That’s just not going to win owners too many trophies.
If you’re in a league that rewards return yardage, Cribbs has more value. Just don’t go overboard. Predicting scores and yardage from returns is incredibly difficult, even when considering Cribbs’ amazing talent. After all, if return touchdowns equated to fantasy football championships, Dante Hall would have been the most coveted player in fantasy a few years back.
Ben Watson TE
Watson joins the Browns after six productive seasons in New England. His 404 receiving yards, and four touchdowns last season reflected a typical year of production for him. On a team with very few seasoned weapons, he could be a very good safety valve for a few years as a the wide receivers develop. Consider Watson a low-end No. 2 tight end in dynasty leagues.
Montario Hardesty RB
There may not be another rookie outside of Dez Bryant who is creating as loud a buzz as Hardesty this offseason.
This Browns rookie was very productive at the University of Tennessee. On the rushing end, he produced 1,345 yards, and 13 touchdowns last year. As a receiver, he posted another 302 yards and one touchdown on 25 catches. This led the Browns to take him in hopes he could be a featured back for them in the future. His performance in OTAs has done nothing but solidify their expectations.
The risk with Hardesty is obvious. He sustained a season-ending knee injury in 2005, missed three games in 2007, another in 2008, and played through sore knees in 2009. Essentially, he missed time in three of his five collegiate seasons. He’s 23 years old now, so that’s a major red flag. It’s a risk every owner needs to consider.
Hardesty is a top-5 selection in rookie drafts this summer. H should battle the likes of Ryan Mathews, Dez Bryant, Jahvid Best, Ben Tate and CJ Spiller for fantasy rookie of the year if he stays healthy.
Mohamed Massaquoi WR
It was Massaquoi, not Brian Robiskie, who showed more promise as a rookie wide receiver for the Browns last season. His 624 receiving yards led the team and he showed some big play ability. With the conservative nature of the offense, that has to be considered a very promising rookie season.
While it’s unlikely he’ll post a 1,000-yard season, it’s reasonable to think he’s the Browns No. 1 receiver going into the year. While nowhere near a No. 1 receiver in dynasty leagues, he’s worth a roster spot as a young receiver with upside.
Colt McCoy QB
Cleveland was the perfect landing spot for McCoy. The West Coast offense suits his skills perfectly. He’s an incredibly accurate passer who displays poise and leadership.
McCoy won an amazing 45 games in college. He’s also the only QB in college history to lead his team to four straight 10-win seasons. His statistics are mind boggling. He posted 13,253 pasing yards, 112 passing TDs. He also added 1,589 rushing yards with another 20 TDs. That certainly made the Browns take notice.
McCoy is an underrated athlete who brings character and leadership to the quarterback position. There are questions about his arm strength and ability to vault to the elite status quarterbacks in the NFL. It’s also unlikely he sees the field for a year or so. Just remember that Mike Holmgren has a knack for getting the most out of his young signal callers.
Consider McCoy as a second-round pick in rookie drafts this summer as a quarterback who should have every opportunity to emerge as a solid option in the future.
Players with Falling Values
Jake Delhomme QB
It’s bizarre to put a veteran quarterback with a solid hold on his position in this category. However, this is precisely where Delhomme belongs.
Jake has simply never recovered from the five-interception performance he posted against the Cardinals in the 2008 playoffs. Last year was awful for Delhomme as he produced 2,015 passing yards with eight touchdowns and 18 interceptions in 11 games for Carolina.
Delhomme has shown ability throughout his 12-year career, but expecting a resurrection in Cleveland is likely asking just a little too much.
James Davis RB
Davis was a hot pickup in dynasty leagues about this time last year. A torn labrum ended any hope for a breakout soon thereafter.
The drafting of Montario Hardesty and emergence of Jerome Harrison leaves Davis in a tough spot. It’s going to take some significant injuries for him to have value any time soon. He’s worth a roster spot in dynasty leagues, but the hope we had last year for him is fading quickly.
Brian Robiskie WR
Robiskie was supposed to be most NFL-ready receiver coming out of the draft last year. That inexplicably translated into massive confusion on the practice field and just seven receptions for 106 yards.
While it’s not time to just throw in the towel after one season, Robiskie hasn’t shown enough promise as of yet to make dynasty league owners believe 2010 or beyond is going to produce any type of breakout.
Chris Jennings RB
Jennings was a big pickup in dynasty leagues last year as owners hoped it would be his time to shine when Lewis went down. While he showed some promise, it was Harrison who took advantage of the situation. Jennings belongs on waiver wires and may struggle to make this team.
Seneca Wallace QB
Wallace is an underrated performer at quarterback and has long been a Mike Holmgren favorite. Don’t be surprised to see him take over at quarterback and perform well if Delhomme struggles early. From what we’ve seen from Jake lately, an early struggle would be no surprise.
Carlton Mitchell WR
This South Florida product has a great blend of size and speed. Standing at 6’3” and running in the 4.4s, Mitchell has the athleticism to stick in the NFL. He’s very raw and needs to improve in all areas, but he’s worthy of a late round pick in rookie drafts as a receiver with upside.
The Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson era is over and the Browns are likely better for it. Mike Holmgren has arrived and brings an element of legitimacy this franchise has lacked for a long time. With young players like Colt McCoy, Montario Hardesty, and Mohamed Massaquoi, the Browns offense finally has some promise again.
Dynasty league owners should look elsewhere for immediate production, but Cleveland does have some prospects worth keeping a very close eye on for the future.