The Cleveland Browns may not be finished with offseason moves, but Friday's reported trades are making me ponder if Cleveland will have life in the fantasy football world.
It's not often that the Browns have upper echelon players in fantasy football. Josh Gordon's breakthrough season in 2013 is probably the best known Browns fantasy football season in recent years. Terrelle Pryor, Isaiah Crowell and Gary Barnidge have had cups of coffee as solid fantasy options, but it's been awhile since we've seen at least some hype for multiple players on a Browns roster.
With the additions of Tyrod Taylor and Jarvis Landry, and the possibility of Saqoun Barkley, Cleveland is suddenly much more interesting heading into the 2018 fantasy football draft.
Taylor's fantasy stock
Taylor is a unique fantasy football option. He's not going to do much through the air, but he has enough production with his legs that he can be a quality weekly start.
But can you really trust him on a long-term basis?
In 2017, he had eight outings with less than 200 yards passing. In 2016, that number was nine. Even with his running ability, those are scary stats.
Expecting something more out of Taylor in Cleveland is fool's gold. He works in that system based on his knack for not turning over the football. He was benched in 2017, even though he was quarterbacking a team to the playoffs. Despite a winning record, the Bills' coaching staff desired an untested backup on the road.
That experiment failed miserably, but it's still an ominous sign for Taylor's future football life. He'll be better than the options in Cleveland in recent years, especially with his continued ability to keep the ball from falling into the opposition's hands.
However, he shouldn't be considered anywhere near a QB1, and should be destined for a ranking closer to the late teens in the 2018 fantasy football draft.
What about that running game?
If one item became more appetizing in Cleveland, the running game should get your attention.
If Barkley is drafted by the Browns, then he should be vaulted high in the RB1 discussion. He's a three-down running back, who will contribute right away for any team. The Browns have some drawbacks, but with Taylor at the helm, and a decent offensive line, Barkley should be considered as a first round selection in the 2018 fantasy football draft.
Taylor's success at the quarterback position is linked with a strong running game. He relied on LeSean McCoy during his time with Buffalo and he'll lean on that running game once again with the Browns.
With Taylor at the helm, Barkley or Crowell, if he's still in Cleveland as the starter, should be considered as an upgrade. The only running back who should be downgraded, based on whatever happens until the beginning of the season, is Duke Johnson. Johnson is a pass-catching running back, who won't be needed with Barkley, and will see a drop in targets with Taylor. Go with the main runner, so Johnson should be faded, if he's still in Cleveland by the time September comes.
Wide receivers aren't bad
They're good, but does Taylor actually drop their value?
Landry, Corey Coleman and Gordon are the top three options at wide receiver. In reality, most NFL teams would take those players as their top-three wide receivers.
I'm having trouble believing they'll get their full complement of targets with Taylor as the quarterback, though. Taylor is not a high-volume, come-from-behind quarterback, so even if the Browns are losing, don't expect much in the garbage-time category.
Without the volume, there's no way you can trust three wide receivers, so forget about Coleman as a dark horse this season. That leaves Landry, who is a known possession receiver, without touchdown ability, and Gordon, who showed flashes of brilliance last season in his return.
We know what we're getting with Landry. He's already been on a team with a quarterback who checks down at every possible moment. He's good enough to be a viable WR2, but he won't score touchdowns. Gordon is the wild card. With Landry joining the team, though, I'm fading Gordon's value a bit. Without Landry, Gordon could have been a high-volume WR1. Landry will take away those touches, so Gordon will be a touchdown-dependent WR1, which is cause for concern with Taylor's lack of career touchdown passes.
The talent is there for the wide receivers, but I'm not grading any of them in the WR1/high upside WR2 category.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald. During his free time, he blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games. His Against The Chalk blog has earned him back-to-back Iowa Newspaper Association awards for Best Blog. Check out more at Against The Chalk.
Scott Levine can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH