Avoid Robert Griffin in fantasy after Cleveland signing
Robert Griffin III is back on the radar after signing a two-year, $15 million deal with Cleveland on Thursday, with $6.75 million guaranteed.
The deal materialized after a private workout last week with the Browns’ brain trust, during which head coach Hue Jackson described one sprint-action pass by saying, “It felt like the Earth moved beneath my feet,” and by calling Griffin’s accuracy in passing drills “freakish.”
Hyperbole aside, we have to accept that Griffin will be four years removed from that sensational rookie season in 2012 when he took Washington to the playoffs, threw for 20 touchdowns and ran for 800 yards and seven more TDs, finishing among the top-five fantasy quarterbacks. Of course, that was all accomplished under coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who tailored Washington’s offense to Griffin’s unique skillset. Following Shanahan’s departure from D.C. and a significant knee injury, Griffin wound up a weekly inactive in 2015.
The question now facing the fantasy community is whether Griffin will ever reclaim that early-career magic, and whether that can actually happen in Cleveland. Our own Sam Monson recently offered up his reasons why Griffin is not the long-term answer for the Browns. Frankly, there really isn’t much of a counter-argument, even if Griffin’s knee is anywhere near what it was prior to the injury. When active in 2014, he ranked 32nd among passers in our grades (and was only 22nd in rushing), and the year before he was graded 24th, right between Jake Locker and Michael Vick.
There is also the matter of Cleveland having the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft, which is prime position for one of the top quarterbacks. Still, if you weren’t privy to the names on the back of the jerseys and had to hitch your wagon to either a fifth-year vet, former Rookie of the Year or, say, some rookie from North Dakota State right out of the gate, would you really bet the house that Griffin won’t be out there scrambling around come Week 1?
The big question, should the Browns select Carson Wentz or Cal’s Jared Goff, is “What kind of offense do they install?” Jackson is known as an offensive-minded coach, but he’s not going to have a pro-style system in place for a rookie to learn and then a completely different read-option system for Griffin to orchestrate. At the end of the day, it’s on Griffin to put in the work and improve his pocket presence and ability to read defenses.
BOTTOM LINE: Cleveland’s draft will answer a lot of questions. And if another QB competition is really going to damage Griffin’s psyche, this experiment was DOA in any case. Denver reportedly passed on him because of character concerns, and such concerns about Griffin from the neck up are nothing new. Don’t expect the same pre-injury mobility, and don’t expect a reunion with former Baylor teammate Josh Gordon to be a cure-all for Griffin’s fantasy prospects.