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Fantasy Football 2011 Strategy - Cleveland Browns

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Last year, I said that it was not worth drafting running back Peyton Hillis in fantasy football because it appeared it would be behind Jerome Harrison and Montario Hardesty on the team's depth chart. Sure enough, Hillis went on to become the 10th most productive player in all of fantasy football.

With fans across the country getting ready for their fantasy football drafts, it's time to take a look at the value of drafting players who are on the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland fans are bound to be more inclined to draft someone from the Browns, but who is actually worth a roster spot?

We're going to go position-by-position here, with players appearing in red being the ones to stay away from, and the players appearing in green being the ones I recommend drafting.

  • QB Colt McCoy - The West Coast Offense might sound friendly for quarterbacks and I am confident in what McCoy can bring to the table in his second season, but there are much better proven fantasy options out there. McCoy threw for 6 touchdowns and 9 interceptions last year. You need multi-touchdown games from fantasy quarterbacks consistently, and that's not something that is going to be expected of him. He offers the upside of scrambling for some yards, but it is not enough yardage to take a flier on him. 14% of Yahoo leagues currently own him, so chances are you'll get him after the draft if desired.
  • RB Peyton Hillis - I'm not quite sure why Hillis is ranked so low (25th overall, and 15th among running backs), except for the belief that our offense may take a step back given the fact that there has been less time to prepare for a new offense. If he stays healthy, Hillis could be more productive than he was last season. He is a drafter's best friend -- he runs the ball very well wherever he is on the field, and he catches the ball better than most of the team's receivers. Personally, I think he's worth a first-round pick, but Yahoo has him going close to the end of round two.
  • RB Montario Hardesty - Not only is there uncertainty on whether this guy can stay healthy, we don't know how many reps he will receive. There's a chance he might not be the third-down back, but rather the guy who runs the ball when Hillis needs a breather. He will fulfill an important role, but not as a fantasy back.
  • RB Brandon Jackson - He'll be a third-down and blocking back at best. Even when he started in Green Bay, he was never a fantasy threat.
  • WR Mohamed Massaquoi - The team's No. 1 receiver had 483 yards and 2 touchdowns in his sophomore season last year. If you end up drafting him or putting him in your starting lineup, I'd certainly question the move.
  • WR Brian Robiskie - I don't recommend taking any of the Browns' receivers, but if you really want to stash someone on your bench, it should be Robiskie. While he is not a burner, he seemed to show some more chemistry with McCoy toward the end of the 2010 campaign and is getting the most reps so far in training camp. He had 310 yards and 3 touchdowns last year.
  • WR Greg Little - Massaquoi and Robiskie have had two years to show off if they are fantasy threats, and they have not delivered. The whole story behind Little (being a year off, having good size, drafted in the second round) makes him the biggest sleeper candidate on the team, but you'd still be taking a chance when we don't even know if he'll be in the starting lineup or not.
  • WR Joshua Cribbs - The team might reduce his Wildcat role, and maybe even his role as a receiver. While he'll be out to prove he's still a special teams stud, he'll need something more than that to be a regular fantasy contributor.
  • TE Ben Watson - He quietly gained 763 yards and 3 touchdowns last year, but I'm guessing that will end up being his most productive season as a member of the Browns. He'll still be the starter and was McCoy's favorite overall receiver last year, but the roles of the two backup tight ends are projected to increase. I think he's still worth a last-round pick if you don't feel like investing in a top-tier tight end early.
  • TE Evan Moore - I don't think the front office would've tendered him if they didn't like him. Similar to Jayme Mitchell, I get the feeling that they didn't understand why Moore didn't receive more reps last year. He'll get some big yardage for a second tight end, but second tight ends don't belong on your roster.
  • TE Jordan Cameron - Unless the Browns put Cameron in an Aaron Hernandez type of role in his rookie season, he shouldn't be a fantasy threat.
  • K Phil Dawson - Picking the right kicker can be a big advantage, but the leading one usually changes year by year. If you don't care about monitoring kicker productivity, there's nothing wrong with making Dawson your token member of the Browns.
  • DEF/ST Cleveland - Defensively, it's hard to value Cleveland's defense because there is a lot of uncertainty with the switch to the 4-3 defense. The value in taking them? They could still have a good special teams unit if Joshua Cribbs is healthy again. If you bank on their special teams helping year, any chance of the defense being surprisingly good is a bonus. They're still off my radar for the most part, but their Week 1 match against Cincinnati is attractive.

If you have any differing opinions, feel free to sound off!

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