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Should You Draft Him?: Cleveland Browns

Ah, the Cleveland Browns. I had designs on writing multiple paragraphs packed with hilarious one-liners about how indescribably craptacular this franchise is. Pointing out that the team hasn’t won more than five games since 2007 totally rub salt in the wounds of their long-suffering fanbase. Pointing out that the New Kids on the Block have made more Super Bowl appearances than the Cleveland Browns would be a brutal illustration of this team’s long history of futility.

As much as I would like to exacerbate the pain and suffering that the Browns have wrought upon the hardworking city of Cleveland, writing about sports and bagging on the Browns’ lack of real life success is like a comedian telling jokes about bad airline food. It’s like a self-professed social critic pointing out that Paris Hilton and the Kardashians are famous for nothing. It’s like an audiophile saying that the sound quality of Beats by Dre headphones fails to completely live up to the price tag. It’s like detailing plot holes in Back to the Future. What you’re saying is correct, but we’re all tired of hearing about it so shut up and move on already.

But there are a few dead horses I want to beat because they bear relevance to the topic of the fantasy viability of Cleveland’s roster. In the last 25 seasons, a Browns running back hit 1,000 rushing yards in only four of them. They have only had two 1,000-yard receivers in the last 11 seasons. There has only been one 4,000-yard passer in Browns history and that was Brian Sipe in 1980. The only tight end not named Ozzie Newsome or Kellen Winslow Jr. who managed to eclipse 500 receiving yards in a season in the past 40 years is Ben Watson, who just recently decided that standing on the New Orleans Saints’ sidelines is preferable to starting in Cleveland.

So while there does exist a Brown or two that I would consider to be draft worthy, I urge you to consider the half century of suckitude before investing a precious draft pick on a guy who bears that telltale monochromatic helmet. As a former Ohio resident, I have personally witnessed the drafting habits of Browns fans and I know nothing I say will sway them from taking Greg Little in Round 8, because gosh darn it, it’s his third season and I just got this gut feeling he’ll break out, but there’s still hope for the rest of you who consider my simple “Should you draft him or not based on his average draft position?” system. Let’s go!

(Average Draft Position is based on data from standard scoring 12-team mock drafts on fantasyfootballcalculator.com. Players with additional points per reception appeal will be noted. Kickers and defenses will be ignored because they are kickers and defenses.)

Brandon Weeden (ADP – Undrafted):
By virtually any conceivable metric, out of all the starting quarterbacks who took the majority of his team’s snaps, Brandon Weeden was the worst. Fourteen touchdowns and 17 interceptions over 15 games as well as virtually nonexistent rushing stats are a recipe for fantasy poison. On the bright side, at least some of this can be blamed on former coach Pat Shurmur’s dink-and-dunk offense, which couldn’t be a worse fit for Weeden’s big arm and gunslinger mentality. The new regime is looking to employ a more vertical passing attack that should do a better job of utilizing the skills of Josh Gordon as well as Weeden’s arm strength. This doesn’t do anything to ensure that Weeden’s efficiency and touchdown-to-interception ratio will improve, but at the very least it should work wonders increasing the volume of his passing stats. I can’t advise drafting him in 12-man leagues because I can name 24 quarterbacks I would rather have, but in deeper two quarterbacks leagues, he’s a usable bench stash.

Should you draft him?
NO



Trent Richardson (ADP – 10th Overall):

In his rookie campaign last year, Richardson missed the entirety of training camp due to a knee scope, he busted his ribs, and a bum ankle caused him to miss the last game of the season. His 3.56 yards per carry was the fifth-worst among all players with at least 100 carries. His yards-per-carry total was actually less than that of Michael Turner, who was recently cut due to poor performance. Despite all of this, Richardson was the 11th-ranked running back in standard leagues and seventh in points-per-reception scoring. Thanks to extremely heavy workloads including all goal line carries and fantastic receiving skills, Richardson shook off a laundry list of injuries and an inept offensive scheme to hit the top-12 at his position. In other words, being a No. 1 running back in 12-team leagues is his floor. With a new offense, a season of experience under his belt, a full training camp and preseason, and ridiculous talent perfectly suited to all three downs, it’s only fair to expect more. At worst you’re getting a low-end No. 1 running back. At best, you’re getting a top-3 overall player in fantasy. At 10th overall, he’s kind of a steal.

Should you draft him?
YES


Dion Lewis/Montario Hardesty (ADP – Undrafted):

Move along, nothing to see here. The only way either of these players sees significant playing time is if something happens to Richardson, and even then you would probably be looking at more of a time share with neither player doing much of anything to impress. If Richardson was to get hurt, Hardesty would be a more worthy waiver wire add, but unless you’re in a crazy deep league with 25 rounds, your precious few bench spots would be better spent on higher upside fliers.


Should you draft them?
NO


Josh Gordon (ADP – Late Round 8):

I know he has to serve a two-game suspension and is a complete and total knucklehead, but he is coming off a rookie season where he put up 800 yards and five touchdowns despite bad quarterback play, obnoxiously conservative offensive scheming, and not having played football in over a year. In ESPN live drafts there are two kickers and eight defenses going before Gordon on average. Obviously there are some pretty large red flags seeing as how another marijuana-related offense will almost certainly get him a full season ban, and no matter how great he plays, Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell simply don’t have what it takes to make him a top-10 wide receiver, but when you consider the other wide receivers with draft positions similar to Gordon, such as the upside-challenged Anquan Boldin and Jeremy Maclin, or the equally risky Kenny Britt and DeSean Jackson, I will be more than happy to gamble on Gordon at his present value.


Should you draft him?
YES


Greg Little (ADP – Undrafted):

Here is one of those players who always gets all kinds of upside talk. Yes he’s physically talented, but good luck finding another starting receiver with worse hands. If we’re worrying about a Browns receiver’s season being in jeopardy, I would be more concerned about Little’s dropped passes earning him a one-way ticket to the bench than I would be about Josh Gordon smoking away 14 more games. I’ve read that the only thing keeping Greg Little from being a quality NFL wideout is his hands. Oh, really? So you’re saying the only reason he isn’t a good receiver is because he’s bad at catching passes. Guess what? I’m awesome at putting on shorts and setting my feet into starting blocks. The only thing keeping me from being an Olympic sprinter is how slowly I run. Maybe he will improve his hands and capitalize on a more aggressive passing attack, but I would much rather leave him on waivers and put in a claim if it occurs rather than drafting him and banking on it happening.


Should you draft them?
NO

Jordan Cameron (ADP – Round 13):
He is generally being drafted as a high-end No. 2 tight end. On the plus side, Cleveland clearly has faith in his ability seeing as how they let both of its tight ends leave in free agency. Furthermore, his size, strength and speed would be accurately described as Jimmy Graham-esque. On the downside, he’s a very young and unproven commodity who has only seen limited action in his first two seasons. On top of that, accurate passes on midrange routes are not a strength of Brandon Weeden on his best day. I don’t personally bother with carrying two tight ends in normal leagues because tight end is usually deep enough that I can find an acceptable stopgap for bye week and injury fill-ins, but if you carry a backup tight end, you’re in a league that starts two, or you drafted Rob Gronkowski and you’re looking for a late-round guy to keep the seat warm in case Gronkowski isn’t a full go for Week 1, Jordan Cameron has enough upside to be worth a late-round flier.


Should you draft him?
YES

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