The Cleveland Browns have long been looked at as the laughingstock of the NFL. After all, the team has only made the playoffs once since the current Browns franchise began in 1999, and the team’s best record has been 10-6 in that span. While Cleveland fans will likely have to suffer through yet another losing season in 2016, fantasy football fans should turn to the Browns for a fantasy football gold mine.
You see, the Browns still aren’t a very good football team in real life, but for fantasy purposes, there is a perfect storm brewing. Cleveland’s defense finished 27th in the NFL in 2015 as the unit allowed a whopping 379.2 yards per game. Aside from hiring defensive coordinator Ray Horton, the Browns didn’t add a whole lot of talent on that side of the ball and the players that are projected to start have a ton of inexperience.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 30, 2016
Couple the Browns’ poor defense with the fact that Cleveland will play 12 games against top-15 offenses from 2015, and there’s a recipe for the Browns to constantly be playing catch-up. When an NFL team is playing catch-up, that provides the fantasy football community with what we call, “Garbage Time Points.”
In order to fully take advantage of those “Garbage Time Points,” a team must have a decent amount of talent on the offensive side of the ball. Although Cleveland finished 25th in the NFL in 2015 with 331.9 yards per game, the front office went out and revamped the unit this offseason, which suddenly brings some fantasy appeal to the Browns.
It started with the hiring of Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, which instantly bought credibility to the organization. The Browns then went out and signed Robert Griffin III after the Washington Redskins decided not to offer their former No. 2 overall pick a contract. Although Cleveland didn’t immediately admit to it, it was a foregone conclusion that Griffin III would be the team’s starting quarterback in 2016.
The Browns then used their first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft on wide receiver Corey Coleman out of Baylor. Coleman caught 74 passes for 1,363 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2015 for the Bears and he should provide an element of speed to the Browns’ offense that they haven’t had in a while.
In addition to Coleman, Cleveland also have Andrew Hawkins, Terrelle Pryor and Josh Gordon, who will be back following a four-game suspension to begin the season, to round out a pretty athletic wide receiver corps for Griffin III to throw the ball to. When you add in tight end Gary Barnidge, there will be a lot of fantasy points to be had for Griffin III and his weapons as they will consistently play from behind.
.@JOSH_GORDONXII shines in preseason debut
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 27, 2016
Add running backs Duke Johnson, and to a lesser extent, Isaiah Crowell to that mix as well. Crowell will likely get any goal-line work that the Browns’ offense produces while Johnson will be catch a ton of passes out of the backfield while playing beside Griffin III in the shotgun.
Remember, as fantasy football players, all fantasy points are created equally. In the NFL, if a team is down 31-10 with a minute left and drives down to score a late touchdown, it means nothing other than to pad the stats. In fantasy football, the meaningless drive could be the difference between a win and a loss that week.
So while conventional wisdom may tell you to stay away from the putrid Cleveland Browns, keep in mind that there will be a number of fantasy points scored by this offense in 2016.
[Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images]