From Fantasy Wasteland to Oasis: The Rise of the Cleveland Browns

Prior to this season the Cleveland browns have been a fantasy desert, the only two players in recent years that fantasy players needed to know about was shutdown corner Joe Haden. However, the Browns were slowly rebuilding, starting with their offensive and defensive lines. With the past two drafts, the Browns are hoping to strike gold on the offensive side of the ball.

A few players have fantasy relevance this season, the rest I expect to become fantasy relevant in the second half of this season. Beginning next season, look to see up to five Cleveland browns drafted. All five of the players I highlight have the capability of putting together top 10 seasons at their position in the upcoming years. Only two are likely to be drafted this year, although I would advice people to watch out for Jordan Cameron this season.

1. Trent Richardson (RB):

I won’t spend too much time discussing the former Tide running back. As a top 10 pick all fantasy players should know his name by now. He is recovering from a revision of his previous knee arthroscopy, decreasing his value early this season. That isn’t to say he shouldn’t be owned. The Browns boast one of the top offensive lines in the league and a back with the talent of TRich should be owned.

Weeden will start for the Browns immediately as a rookie.

2. Brandon Weeden (QB):

The former Oklahoma State Cowboy and minor league pitcher was perhaps the steal of the first round. Weeden’s only knock was his age (28), but his experience in the professional ranks of the MLB should serve him well. He already understands the pressure put on professional athletes to perform. Furthermore, his maturity should prevent some of societal issues many young players face when given millions of dollars. He has the arm strength, accuracy and intelligence to be a top 10 quarterback in the NFL. I argue that he also has the weapons.

3. Jordan Cameron (TE):

Of Weeden’s receivers, I argue that Cameron has the biggest upside. The former USC Trojan was a basketball standout in high school. He made the move to tight end during his stint at USC. While he is new to the position his physical tools make him a potential stud at this position. At 6’5”, 254 lbs coming out of college he is a physical freak.

The reports from camp are that he has great hands. His vertical is absolutely sick (37.5 inches) and his 40-time (4.5-4.6) is excellent for a tight end of his size. He has already moved to the number 2 at his position and the Browns have made it a point that they want to feature him this year. While I may be a year ahead of myself, I think he is worth a late round flyer. If you don’t grab him he should be on your waiver wire early in the season. Don’t be surprised if you see his name on everyone’s waiver wire list at some point this season.

4. Josh Gordon (WR):

At 6’3” and 224 lbs Gordon is an absolute monster at his position and with a good 40 time (4.42-4.59). His top-end speed is phenomenal and his vertical (36”) is better than average. He has many of the attributes it takes to be a top-flight X receiver in the NFL. His speed (especially considering his size) is amazing and his acceleration is very quick. His transition from catching the ball to running down field is effortless and he is fluid running the ball. Once he gets the ball he can take it to the house from anywhere on the field due to his size and speed.

The reason I like him more than Little is his hands. He plucks the ball out of the air with no effort, a trait the best receivers in the league all share. He doesn’t shy away from contact and with his size and speed he will have no problem breaking press and bracket coverage once he learns to use his frame. He needs to polish his route tree as he wasn’t asked to do much during his time at Baylor. He has the physical tools to breakout this season but if he can get his route running down and learn the intricacies of his position (quick first step, getting in and out of breaks, setting up DB’s) he has the tools to be as good as anyone (outside of Megatron) at his position.

5. Greg Little (WR):

The prototypical Z receiver, lacks top end speed and hands required for an X receiver, but he is the prototypical Z (flanker). What the former running back turned receiver lacks in speed, he makes up nearly everywhere else. At 6’3” and 231 lbs, and boasting one of the best verticals you’ll see (40”), he is a physical freak. He can go up and get the ball over pretty much anyone in the league. Where he really excels is after the catch. Once he has the ball in his hands, his time at running back shows. He has the elusiveness not seen in too many wideouts and he can truck any corner in the league. His only knock is his hands, as he has to learn to pluck the ball out of the air. If he can learn to run pro routes and catch the ball like a pro, the sky is the limit for Little.