In today's edition of "The Sunday Five," we take a look at how players on the Browns have performed in fantasy football this year, what the Browns should do at their logjammed wide receiver position, what to expect from the new owner, and more.
I haven't talked about how viable players on the Cleveland Browns have been for fantasy football this season. Based on standard Yahoo scoring rules, let's take a look at where the Browns rank at each position. QB Brandon Weeden is ranked No. 22, which makes him a potential bye week threat but not a regular starter. RB Trent Richardson is ranked No. 8, boosted by his strong work in the red zone and as a receiver. Richardson has been a good starting running back for fantasy owners.
WR Josh Gordon is ranked No. 36 overall, and WR Greg Little barely cracks the top 75. Neither one has been a typical starting receiver for fantasy football, but Gordon is certainly starting to gain traction with two long touchdowns over the past two weeks. Forget the tight ends; even with a touchdown last week, Benjamin Watson still ranks No. 34 overall at the position. Browns fans often take Phil Dawson as their kicker, and this year it is paying off: he ranks No. 8 among kickers in points scored. The Browns' defense, ranked at No. 15 overall, hasn't been half bad when Joe Haden is in the lineup. In my money league, I don't have any members of the Browns on my roster. I needed a receiver this week due to my starter having a bye. I considered picking up Gordon, but with Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin possibly returning [at the time], I was too concerned about his playing time being reduced.
That last sentence is an easy segue into this next bullet point: what do the Browns do with Massaquoi and Benjamin when both are ready to play again? During the first couple of games of the season, Massaquoi was the team's best receiver. If he's fully recovered, I think you have to stick him back into the starting lineup with Greg Little. I know we're still frustrated with Little dropping passes, but I continue to praise him for the relentless blocking he is doing on the field. The coaching staff wants to keep that in there, since they also still have faith that he can make the big plays.
I think Josh Cooper remains the slot receiver, with Joshua Cribbs playing that position a few times if the team wants to fake a reverse or something. When the Browns run a three-receiver set, I think Gordon should be in the game with either Little or Massaquoi coming out, depending on the type of play being called. This seems like a healthy rotation, and it still gives Gordon an opportunity to stretch the field. The odd man out is Benjamin in this scenario. While I like what he has to offer, we need to avoid too big of a cluster, and right now, the five receivers I already mentioned is more than enough. Now, Massaquoi has been ruled OUT against the Colts, meaning Benjamin probably will see some reps in this game, but I'm thinking more of down the road.
So, it's official -- Jimmy Haslam is now the new owner of the Cleveland Browns. I'm curious to see how much of a presence he will bring to Indianapolis. Will we see him up in a sky box watching the game? Will the camera crews be panning to his reaction every time a good or bad play happens? If the Browns are winning big, will he be seen on the sidelines late in the fourth quarter? It doesn't seem like Haslam is going to be a quiet owner. I haven't decided yet on whether that will be annoying or refreshing. I'm leaning toward refreshing, but my opinion might be swayed by what he ends up doing with the rest of the front office this offseason, particularly with general manager Tom Heckert.
I have a wild/whacky prediction for this week's game: FB Owen Marecic gets multiple opportunities to make a big play (which, by his standards, would be a catch-and-run for a first down), and executes. I'm still baffled how a guy could drop the same type of pass over and over again. It's the standard type of fullback route that doesn't go anywhere. I'd be really intrigued if the Browns tried to catch the Colts off guard by having Marecic run a wheel route against a linebacker. I've seen the guy make that catch in practice, which makes it more baffling why he treats the ball like kryptonite during an actual game. If Marecic can start making some plays in the flat, too, that can open up a few more wrinkles in our offense. We could also use a strong day of blocking from Marecic against a run defense that is perhaps the worst in the league right now.
It's time to predict this week's gameday inactives against the Colts. Two more players were ruled out for Cleveland on Saturday, so that makes my job a little bit easier. The players who are definitely ruled out include WR Mohamed Massaquoi, OG Jason Pinkston, LB Scott Fujita, CB Dimitri Patterson, and S Tashaun Gipson. My other two picks are WR Travis Benjamin and S Eric Hagg. I think RB Brandon Jackson will be active again in case RB Trent Richardson doesn't feel well. The "surprise" inactive could be if Greg Little ends up feeling like trash with the flu, in which case Benjamin would play.