QB Brandon Weeden (Cleveland)
8/20/13: As was expected all off-season, Brandon Weeden was named the Browns’ starting quarterback and I expect him to have a fairly long leash, even with veterans Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer behind him. If he stays healthy, he could start all 16 games. However, he’s just a low end QB2. He should post better numbers in his 2nd season in the league in a system that fits him better under Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner, but he won’t be that impressive.
Projection: 3550 passing yards, 16 passing touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 100 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns (184 pts standard, 216 pts 6 pt td leagues)
RB Trent Richardson (Cleveland)
8/27/13: So much for him being injury prone. Trent Richardson is, by all accounts, having a phenomenal pre-season and Training Camp and has gotten himself down to 225 pounds and in phenomenal shape. With Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator, he’s locked into a massive workload and should surpass the 318 touches he had last season. He averaged just 3.6 yards per carry last year thanks to injuries sapping his effectiveness, but he’s much more talented than that and he has a very strong offensive line in front of him.
Richardson struggled as a rookie through injuries, averaging just 3.6 yards per carry on 267 carries, though he did catch 51 passes and score 12 times on an overall miserable offense. Now, Richardson is struggling through injuries once again this off-season. Richardson certainly has the talent to be one of the best running back in the NFL, but the question isn’t with his talent. It’s whether or not he can stay healthy.
Projection: 280 carries for 1260 rushing yards 11 total touchdowns 56 catches for 450 receiving yards (237 pts standard, 293 pts PPR)
WR Josh Gordon (Cleveland)
One of the bright spots of the Browns’ 2012 season was the developmental of rookie Josh Gordon, a risky 2nd round choice in the supplemental draft. Naturally, Gordon got himself suspended for the first 2 games of the season for repeated violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy and is one strike away from being suspended for an entire season. Not only will he miss 2 games, but this could put a developing young receiver behind the 8-ball when he does return for week 3 and beyond. At this point in his career, Gordon is a great deep ball receiver and little else, playing inconsistent overall, but he could really shine in Rob Chudzinski’s offense. He’s a risky fantasy pick, however.
Projection: 54 catches for 800 receiving yards 6 touchdowns (116 pts, 170 pts PPR)
WR Greg Little (Cleveland)
Greg Little, a 2011 2nd round pick, played better down the stretch, but only by default as he caught just 11 of his first 29 targets, including 6 drops. In the final 8 games of the season, he did catch 31 passes for 398 yards and 2 touchdowns with just 3 drops, so perhaps he’s finally turned a corner going into his 3rd year in the league and he’ll be the #1 receiver for a couple games with Gordon suspended. He’s an unexplosive athlete, however, who is among the worst in the NFL in yards per reception and yards per reception after the catch. His future is as a #2 possession receiver at best.
Projection: 62 catches for 750 receiving yards 4 total touchdowns (99 pts, 161 pts PPR)
TE Jordan Cameron (Cleveland)
Cameron is very inexperienced having caught just 26 passes in his 2 years in the league since being drafted in the 4th round in 2011, but the starting job is finally his with Ben Watson gone and while he might still be raw, his freakish athleticism and pass catching ability is exactly what Chudzinski and Turner want out of their tight ends. The 6-5 254 pounder ran a 4.59 with a 37.5 inch vertical at The Combine and was a basketball player at USC, much like Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates at their respective alma maters. He’s reportedly been great this off-season and he has potential for a breakout year, though, of course, he’ll be handicapped by his quarterback play.
Projection: 45 catches for 600 receiving yards 4 touchdowns (84 pts, 129 pts PPR)