Are you a fan of fantasy football? Some people play it with their co-workers with a little friendly bet involved, some people play it online for a crack at some cash, and some people play it online simply for bragging rights. I've played fantasy football for several years now, and there has always been one thing that has improperly influenced me: choosing home-town players in the draft. For some reason, I always have something in the back of my mind telling, "Man, [insert offensive player] has looked great in camp, no one will expect him to do good! I gotta get this steal!" Over the past few years, I have evolved away from that strategy for several reasons.
During our playoff season, Kevin Johnson and Dennis Northcutt were two of my main wide receivers. After Johnson had thrown a touchdown in Week 1, I thought he was a monster for fantasy football. After Northcutt made several amazing plays against the Titans and showed punt return potential, I thought I was going to win the whole league. Instead, as the Browns would lose a crushing game in real life, I saw my fantasy team plummet at the same time. By the way, during the 2002 season, my fourth-round pick was Quincy Morgan. Yikes. When Kelly Holcomb was named our starting quarterback, I picked him up as a third quarterback because I thought he'd light it up. Meanwhile, William Green and Aaron Shea would also end up on my bench for some reason.
The past two years though, I've definitely moved away from that strategy. I hope that Charlie Frye does well, but there's no way in the world I'd take him as my backup fantasy quarterback. Dennis Northcutt has his off weeks, so I wasn't inclined to select him. Joe Jurevicius is in a new system, and he may not be the touchdown threat that he was in Seattle. However, I do have to admit that I selected Kellen Winslow as my main tight end, only because I was able to get him in the ninth round of my draft. I also grabbed Reuben Droughns in the fifth round, which I may regret if we can't score rushing touchdowns again. Now, if you are inclined to take Browns in your draft, here is a breakdown of what potentially selected players will do:
- Charlie Frye: I would not consider wasting a pick on Frye whatsoever. If you make him your starting quarterback, you've already lost the league. There are a lot more quarterbacks that throw the ball a lot more, and even someone like Byron Leftwich, who doesn't seem like a powerhouse QB, will throw more scores than Frye. Can Frye turn out to be a sleeper? Maybe, but as history has shown with all Browns' quarterbacks as of late, not really. Besides, do you honestly think Frye will throw four touchdowns in one week, resulting in a fantasy win?
- Reuben Droughns: If LeCharles Bentley didn't get hurt and Ryan Tucker was healthy at the present time, I'd consider Droughns to be a solid No. 2 option at running back(in fantasy leagues, that typically means you'd have someone better, but Droughns would still start). However, with our current state, Droughns could potentially be the same as he was last season. Our key difference will be the fact that we have two more red zone threats in Joe Jurevicius and Kellen Winslow. Droughns should not be selected sooner than the latter part of the fourth round, but he has the most fantasy potential of any player on the Browns roster.
- Joe Jurevicius: Don't be fooled by Jurevicius' ten touchdowns from a year ago. The chances of him having the same production with Frye is very low. He will not be prone to making big plays either, and will be counted on as a solid receiver. He is a great addition to our team, but it won't show in fantasy football league. Do not draft him unless he is available around the 12th round - you'll find better production with many other players.
- Braylon Edwards: Edwards is the biggest risk pick on the Browns, because as a No. 1, he could produce even better than Antonio Bryant did last year. Once he got into a groove last year, he displayed great chemistry with Frye, catching two touchdowns against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Still, taking him sooner than the 7th or 8th round is a reach.
- Dennis Northcutt: Plain and simple, do not draft him. Northcutt tends to have one or two huge games a year, but besides that, you'll see a lot of "2 catches, 20 yard" performances from him. Third receivers are rarely going to produce unless you're a Brandon Stokley, so Northcutt is a big no-no to even be drafted. Even as a backup, he won't be worth putting in.
- Kellen Winslow: This is the biggest "floater" on the Browns team, since people around the league have completely different opinions about him. Some people feel he'll turn into Tony Gonzalez right away, some people feel he'll only be a top-12 tight end this year, and some people feel he should go undrafted. Although we're hoping Winslow does great for us, the best thing to do is to not pick him until the 8th or 9th round. It is much safer to draft Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, etc. before you even think about Winslow.
- Steve Heiden: The only way anyone should take Heiden is if you do so as a backup. He may be the touchdown threat this year in double tight end sets to take pressure off of Winslow. Personally, I believe he should go undrafted, but if you must, take him with one of your final picks if you really want a backup tight end.
- Phil Dawson: I've often fell into this hole as well. Dawson is one of the most accurate kickers, but he does not get that many chances, and he's not a constant threat from beyond 50 yards. We don't score a lot of touchdowns, which takes away from his PATs. Dawson is not good enough to be your starting kicker, but he's usually a fine choice if your primary kicker has a bye week.
- Cleveland DEF: Now, regarding Cleveland's defense, I tend to enjoy them as a backup. If the Browns are facing a poor offense, I'm confident that our defense will give me something to brag about for a week or two here and there. No one really wants this defense though, so if you take them, it should be from waivers or your final pick of the draft.
- Big No-No's Do not have more than two Browns players on your team. Having two of our receivers will only take away from their overall value. And, definitely do not take anyone that is not mentioned on this list. You'll only be wasting a pick.