Fantasy Power Rankings No. 26 — Cleveland
Josh Gordon’s suspension hurts the Cleveland Browns on the 2014 fantasy power rankings as the team checks in at No. 26. The team offers fantasy owners 72.2% of the value as the average NFL team and 40.9% of the value as the NFL’s best team.
The team added the enigmatic Johnny Manziel via the draft, and despite a pending “quarterback battle” between he and Brian Hoyer, Manziel figures to be behind center for the majority of the season. Rookie quarterbacks — especially those that can run like Manziel — have had success in recent years, giving fantasy owners hope that Manizel could follow suit. He’s a solid fantasy backup with starter potential. The same can’t be said for Hoyer if he starts.
With no Gordon, the Browns offer little and less at wide receiver. In fact, no team offers fantasy football owners less at the wide receiver position than the Browns. Andrew Hawkins is worth a flyer in later rounds, and some are holding out hope that Miles Austin has something left in the tank, but the team’s wide receiving corps won’t be leading any fantasy teams to victory in 2014.
Cleveland traded running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts midway through last season but did well in replacing him with Ben Tate (formerly of the Houston Texans) and rookie Terrance West. Tate and West will share the load, with West acting as the change of pace back. A rookie quarterback and a poor receiving corps means the Browns could look to the ground, so both Tate and West have value from a fantasy perspective. However, neither figures to steal the show and will be flex options at best. The team has the 25th most valuable fantasy backfield.
If any Browns player benefits from Gordon’s absence, it’s tight end Jordan Cameron. He was an elite fantasy option during the first part of last season. He will be the team’s best offensive threat and its best fantasy player. Unlike last season, though, Cameron is no longer a “sleeper,” and you’ll have to spend a fourth or fifth round pick to land him. And as Mike Clay discovered back in 2011, contrary to popular assumption rookie quarterbacks rely on their tight ends less than veterans.
With that being said, there are plenty of reasons to like Cameron this season. In addition to being the only legitimate receiving threat the team has, he proved last season that the hype is real. He was the fifth highest-scoring tight end in PPR leagues and was fewer than four points away from being the second highest-scorer.
If Gordon weren’t suspended, the Browns would be one of the 12 most valuable teams from a fantasy football perspective. Even without Gordon the Browns offer fantasy intrigue, but with no powerhouse running back and no receivers to step into even one of Gordon’s shoes, Cleveland doesn’t pack a strong punch.