2019 Fantasy Football Team Previews: Cleveland Browns
ALL ABOARD THE HYPE MACHINE! As if the Browns’ resurgence last year wasn’t enough to get them coverage, the outspoken personalities of Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham are now conducting the train ride. Get your popcorn ready and your wallet out! 2019 is going to be an expensive year for Browns. Yes, that is now a true statement. You will be paying a premium for Browns across the board. Is the premium worth it? Last year the expectations were nearly nonexistent. This year, that hype comes with a heaping pile of pressure. If Baker Mayfield proved one thing, it’s that he thrives under pressure. So purchase your ticket, because this is the Cleveland Express!
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2019 Cleveland Browns Fantasy Preview
KEY LOSSES: Tyrod Taylor QB, Jaime Collins LB, Breshad Perriman WR, Jabril Peppers S
Impact: Yeah, it was a pretty good off-season for the Browns. Should tragedy befall Baker Mayfield, Drew Stanton will be the backup this year. The Browns did enough between free agency and the draft to address the secondary losing Peppers.
KEY ADDITIONS: Odell Beckham WR, Kareem Hunt RB, Olivier Vernon DE, Sheldon Richardson DT, Morgan Burnett SS, Adarius Taylor ILB
Impact: Where do we start? Odell Beckham may have met his ego match in Baker Mayfield. This is either going to be a prolific relationship or a disaster. Although, it could very well be both. Let’s hope for prolific first. Beckham gives Baker a true #1 WR (no offense to Jarvis Landry). Kareem Hunt won’t be available until Week 10 because of his 8 game suspension and the bye week. When he returns, one would expect him to be a threat catching balls out of the backfield. He and Chubb have the potential to be a devastating combination. Vernon is a great leader, who has plenty left in the tank despite a down year. Richardson adds another potential devastating presence to the front line. PFF had him ranked 10th of all pass rushing DT’s.
Impact: Williams is seen as a fine compliment to Denzel Ward. Tackling wasn’t his strong suit, but he was still considered by many to be the best CB in the draft. The cover skills are strong and should help the front line to get pressure on the pocket. The opinions about Takitaki are wide-ranging, but at the very least he’ll provide depth at linebacker and energy.
OFFENSIVE OUTLOOK: Having a franchise quarterback changes everything and the Browns look like they made the right call taking Baker Mayfield No. 1 overall last year. Now, you give that young, exciting QB an elite WR and there’s potential for some fireworks. Jarvis Landry will also benefit from Beckham’s presence in one on one coverage. David Njoku is another star in the making and gives Mayfield a great third option. Kareem Hunt looming should in no way scare you off Nick Chubb, who had a strong finish to 2018. Sure, Hunt’s talents will be utilized eventually, but you have 10 weeks to be a relevant fantasy team before that question is going to get answered, and Chubb is a low-end RB1. Expect well over 1K yards and 10-plus TDs from Chubb. Worry about Week 10 when (if) you get there. Handcuffing them is not necessary, but don’t select Hunt at all if you don’t have the patience to wait (or some good trade partners). This is one of the few teams that offer a true QB1, RB1, WR1, WR2 and TE1 in fantasy on one roster.
DEFENSIVE OUTLOOK: Myles Garrett is a star, but the Browns defense was still ranked 30th in YPG. Now, the Chiefs were 31st, so for context, this doesn’t negate the Browns as a potential playoff team. Richardson and Vernon will be a big help on the front line. If Greedy Williams picks up things quickly, he and Denzel Ward can form one of the better tandems in the NFL. For all those yards given up last year, they were just 21st in points allowed. That was largely in part to being 2nd in takeaways. Bend don’t break has worked for the Patriots defense for years, so as long as those turnovers keep coming, the Browns are a decent fantasy unit.
2019 OUTLOOK: So what can slow down the Browns in 2019? The Browns themselves. The egos, the new media attention, the profound expectations from a fan base desperate for relevance could all eat them alive. However, New HC Freddie Kitchens has their ear after a great finish to last season…at least for now. Still, you should be very excited to have loads of Browns on your roster for the first time in a very, very….very long time.
Joe Pisapia is the author of the #1 best-selling Fantasy Black Book Series and creator of the revolutionary player evaluation tool Relative Position Value (RPV). He’s the host of The Fantasy Black Book Podcast and the LineStar DFS Podcasts. Joe was previously host of the FSTA award-winning On Target Fantasy (2016 Radio Show of the Year), The Fantasy Black Book Show, RotoExperts in the Morning and NFL Game Day for the FNTSY Fantasy Sports Radio Network, as well as RotoWire MLB/NFL DFS Podcasts, and numerous shows for SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. You can also see him frequently on CBS TV in New York on The Sports Desk. He’s written for The Sporting News, FanDuel Insider and FantasyAlarm.
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