Cleveland Browns Team Profile 2016

Cleveland Browns Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

You have to hand it to Browns fans…..year after year their drafts are bad, their NFL seasons are bad and often their player’s off-the-field headlines are bad, but the fans remain loyal and the dog pound comes out regardless. The Brown’s first round picks have been so ugly, they make onions cry. ( Cleveland Drafts ) The NFL thrives on good competition,and so does fantasy football, so everyone is hoping ( or should be) that new HC Hue Jackson and the Browns turn it around in 2016, with a solid NFL Draft in April, and a strong team on the field in September. (For more “so ugly” jokes- LINK-)

2016 Team Outlook– The Cleveland Browns are in the AFC North Division with Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore. ( Prior to 2002, the Browns were in the AFC Central Division- LINK- ) Since joining the AFC North, the Browns have never won the division, and have only had two winning seasons in those 14 years. Desperate to address organizational chaos, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam reached into the world of baseball analytics and hired Paul DePodesta of Moneyball fame to reshape the woeful Cleveland franchise. With a 3-13 season record in 2015, the Browns currently have the 2nd overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook-

In Utter-Fantasy’s Chicago Bears Team Profile, I wrote….”Fantasy football owners are not dependent on winning seasons from NFL teams, to get great fantasy football players.” This could not be more true, especially in regards to the Cleveland Browns. In 2013 when the Browns went 4-12, CLEV WR Josh Gordon was the #1 wide receiver in the NFL. TE Gary Barnidge was a fantasy stud in 2015, and projects to be one again in 2016.

QB– Josh McCown, J Manziel, Austin Davis, Brian Hoyer, Connor Shaw, Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, Thad Lewis, Colt McCoy, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson, Ken Dorsey, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye…16 starting quarterbacks for the Cleveland Browns in the past 10 years. Of course the Browns will draft yet another young quarterback, and unfortunately there’s no time to spend a year holding a clipboard anymore to learn the NFL, before being thrown right in. UPDATE: Robert Griffin III signed 2-year deal w/ CLEV.

RBs-  Even with the RBBC approach in Cleveland and playing on a bad team, RB Isaiah Crowell has made the most of his situation, ranking #29 RB in the NFL for 2015. The Brown’s wasted a 3rd Round selection in 2014 on Terrance West, but they rebounded in Round 4 in 2015 with a solid running back in Duke Johnson, who ranked #37 RB last season. (Cleveland’s 2015 NFL Draft)

WRs– March 24th, 2015- A two-year contract worth $12.5 million with $9 million guaranteed and a $3.5 million signing bonus-UGH!! That’s what the Browns’ gave up for WR Dwayne Bowe. And what did they get for it so far? 5 receptions for 53 yards. … $1.6 million dollars a reception in 2015. Meanwhile, WR Josh Gordon is waiting patiently to be reinstated and the Brown’s will be smart to keep him. Gordon has kept himself out of trouble, which is finally some good news for Cleveland. WR Travis Benjamin is a free agent. UPDATE: Travis Benjamin signed with San Diego.

TEs– Did You Know- CLEV’s start TE Gary Barnidge was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft? Barnidge played in all 16 games in 2105, he ended the season as the #3 TE in the NFL, with 79 receptions, 1043 receiving yards and 9 TDs.

K– Travis Coons played college football at the University of Washington and was signed by the Browns on December 30, 2014, following the release of Billy Cundiff. During the 2015 preseason, Coons beat out Carey Spear for the starting kicker job.

DEF- According to the “Footballoutsiders website” for 2015, The Browns had the 4th worst defense in the NFL- ranking 27th vs the pass, and 26th vs the run. Cleveland Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson announced that Ray Horton will rejoin the team as defensive coordinator. Horton has been an NFL defensive coordinator the past five seasons, including the 2013 season when he served as the Browns defensive coordinator. ( article )

2015 Cleveland Fantasy Surprises– TE Gary Barnidge’s 9 TDs were 4th best in the among NFL tight ends, only Gronk, WASH Jordan Reed and CIN Tyler Eifert had more. Rookie RB Duke Johnson ranked as the #37 RB last season, with 379 rushing yards, but surprised many with his 534 receiving yards ( 5th best among running backs) along with 2 receiving touchdowns.

2016 Free Agents that Cleveland Needs to Address–  WR Travis Benjamin, WR Terrelle Pryor, RT Mitchell Schwartz, FS Tashaun Gipson, ILB Craig Robertson, T/G Austin Pasztor, CB Johnson Bademosi, ILB Tank Carder, C Alex Mack

2016 NFL Draft– Maybe Cleveland takes page out of the Oakland’s Drafting handbook and waits until Round 2 for a quarterback. In 2014, while Cleveland spent a 1st round pick on Manziel, the Raider’s waited until Round 2 and got Derek Carr, who is still their starting quarterback. Even if WR WR gordon is reinstated, the Browns need help at wide receiver. Other needs: Cornerback, safety, outside linebacker and O-line reinforcements.

Did You Know– In 1963, Jim Brown became the first Browns player to ever gain more than 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game? Jim Brown rushed for more 100 yard games than any other player during the 1960s with 39. Also, Jim Brown also holds the Browns team mark for most 100 yard games at 58.

Team home page:

All team reports can be seen here- TEAM REPORTS

Cleveland MUST Draft A QB AGAIN

Cleveland MUST Draft A QB AGAIN by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Remember the “Tux party” scene in the 1988 movie “Big”?  -Susan (Elizabeth Perkins) says to Josh ( Tom Hanks) ….“It’s like they cloned some party in 1983 and kept spinning it out again and again and again.”  That’s what Cleveland NFL Drafts feel like.

If I was a betting man (and I am)…I would bet that the Cleveland Browns draft another quarterback in 2016, and that the likelihood is…he will not be successful in the NFL. It’s not my pessimistic thinking….it’s history baby.

Unfortunately, Cleveland also doesn’t have any choice in the matter. Cleveland MUST Draft A QB AGAIN. McCown isn’t the answer, and train wreck Manziel isn’t either. ( Manziel is said to be released in march) They do however have a choice on who they pick, and I truly hope that they get it right this time. A competitive Browns team is good for Cleveland, good for the NFL and good for fantasy football.

Cleveland is 0-7 picking college quarterbacks since the year 2000. Here is their track record for QB draft picks, and it isn’t pretty.

(But before I list them, note that the Cleveland Browns head coaches list may be even uglier, having employed 9 different men for the position since 2000 ……..Palmer, Davis, Robinski, Crennel, Mangini, Shurmer, Chudsinski, Pettine and now Hue Jackson)

OK…the Cleveland QB Draft Picks since 2000

2000- Selected Spergon Wynn in the 6th round- ( Note: saw action in only 7 games-16 selections later in this draft, NE grabbed Tom Brady)

2004- Selected Luke McCown in the 4th Round- ( Note: used their 1st pick for Kellen Winslow)

2005- Selected Charlie Frye in the 3rd Round- ( Note: passed up QB A Rodgers in the 1st round for WR Braylon Edwards….OUCH!)

2007- Selected Brady Quinn in the 1st Round- ( Note: at least they didn’t move up to get QB JaMarcus Russell from the Raiders)

2010- Selected Colt McCoy in the 3rd Round- ( Note: used the 1st round pick for CB Joe Haden- actually a smart pick for a change)

2012- Selected Brandon Weeden in the 1st Round- ( Note: used the 3rd pick over-all for RB Trent Richardson- QB Andrew Luck went 2 spots earlier at #1

2014- Selected Johnny Manziel in the 1st Round- ( Note: passed on Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr and a boat load of talented wide receivers)

For the upcoming NFL draft, the top QB prospects are California’s Jared Goff, North Dakota State Carson Wentz and Memphis Paxton Lynch.

•Goff was 7-5 in 2015, passing for 4,719 yards with 43 touchdowns and a 64.5 completion percentage. He had 467 yards and six TD passes in Cal’s first bowl game since 2011, a win over Air Force. 6’5″

• Wentz played in the 2015 title game after returning from a broken wrist sustained in October and claimed the Most Outstanding Player award in both championship games he started and won.

• Lynch started 39 consecutive games to end his caeer after taking the field as a redshirt freshman. He had 28 touchdowns and four interceptions in the regular season, completing 66.8 percent of his passes. In the Ole Miss upset on Oct. 17, Lynch was 39 of 53 for 384 yards and three touchdowns.

I wouldn’t blame any of these 3 prospects if they wrote a letter to the Cleveland Browns and made a strong case for the team to stick with Manziel ( Oh, and insult the dog pound a few times in there as well)  just to make sure that weren’t selected in April by Cleveland. The pressure to save this team is through the roof, and as I mentioned before, history ain’t on their side.

However, if one of these young quarterbacks CAN turn things around in Cleveland, he would be as beloved as Elway was/is in Denver!

Team Profiles- Cleveland Browns

Team Profiles- Cleveland Browns by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Mike Pettine is the current head coach for the Cincinnati Bengals since 2003, “current” being the operative word here. No head coach has lasted in Cleveland for more than last 3 years, since 1999. There have been 8 head coaches since 1999…Chris Palmer, Butch Davis, Terry Robiskie, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmer, Rob Chudainski and now Pettine. 8 head coaches and 12 different starting quarterbacks in the past 14 years is hardly what anyone could call a stabile environment and no surprise that the team hasn’t won more than 5 games since 2007. Pettine’s first year in Cleveland was marred with a losing record, indecisiveness at the running backs position, player misconduct and caving to management (and the demand of Manziel fans) to replace starting QB Brian Hoyer with Manziel. When Pettine made the move in Week 15 to replace Hoyer with the immature, rookie Manziel, the Browns were still in the playoff hunt. The Bengals crushed the Browns that week 30-0. Manziel was atrocious, going 10 for 18, 80 yards passing with 2 INTs. The Browns season was over. Today, Vegas has the Browns 75-1 underdogs to win the Superbowl in 2015. Those are the same odds I’d give Pettine of keeping his job, if he coaches in 2015 like he did in 2014.

2015 Team Outlook – The Browns share the AFC North with Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati. Two of these teams have won Super Bowls in the past 7 years (the Ravens and the Steelers). The Bengals have reached the playoffs the past 4 years. Currently the Browns quarterback situation is unclear, their wide receiver situation is unclear, their tight end situation is unclear, but they have a good core of running backs and an OK defense. Cleveland will come in last in their division this coming season, but hopefully they can find something positive to build on. The NFL thrives on every team being competitive.

2015 Fantasy Outlook –

QB– For the first 12 weeks of the 2014 season, QB Brian Hoyer was the uncontested starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. During that stretch, he led the team to a 7 win- 4 loss record. The team had not lost 2 games in a row all season. Then the pressure mounted from Cleveland ownership and from the over-zealous Manziel fan base…and following losses in Weeks 13 & 14, HC Pettine caved. (The loss in Week 14 by the way, was to visiting Indianapolis Colts, and that game was close…24-25.) In came Johnny College Football. The Browns never won again in 2014. Manziel is now in a rehab center for substance abuse, and good for him. He needed help. No rehab center however, is going to make him into a competent NFL quarterback. A successful NFL quarterback has to be a big, strong packet-passer today and Manziel is none of these. He’s a small, scrambling quarterback, and college is where small, scrambling quarterbacks are successful. The Browns should have let QB Hoyer finish the season out, so that Cleveland could see exactly what they have in him…because now, Hoyer is a free agent. The Browns could move in the draft to get yet another college quarterback, but they’ve done this 8 times now since 1999. I don’t think Cleveland can afford to blow another 1st round selection on a “hopeful” QB. UPDATE: Cleveland signed former TB QB Josh McCown ( who lost 10 games playing for the Bucs)- QB Hoyer signed with Houston- QB Manziel is coming out of rehab and buried as a back-up on the depth chart.

Last summer, the Brown’s signed former Houston Texan Ben Tate to be their starting, workhorse running back. Tate was excited about the opportunity. Tate suffered an knee injury in Week One, and didn’t return to action until Week 5, where he impressively ran the ball 22 times for 123 yards. In Week Six, Tate went 25 for 78 yards and 2 TDs. His number of carries declined sharply after these productive outings and Tate voiced his displeasure with his new role in the Browns’ three-man backfield. (Shocking right…Pettine non-committal?) The Browns waived RB Ben Tate On Nov. 18th. RB Isaiah Crowell was the back to capitalize on Tate’s release for the rest of the season, with fellow rookie RB Terrance West getting a start in late December. Right now RB West is listed as the starter and RB Crowell the #2. But if Pettine coaches like he did in 2014, this doesn’t mean anything and won’t…until the first snap of the 2015 regular season, and we see who is carrying the ball.

By now everyone reading this knows that Cleveland’s star wide receiver Josh Gordon is suspended again, this time for the entire 2015 season. WR Gordon has been spiraling down hill for years, and if he doesn’t get serious and get serious help, his career isn’t the only thing that could come to a screeching halt. Gordon isn’t the only young man to come from poor or modest backgrounds, then find it difficult to become an instant millionaire and thrust into the NFL limelight. The NFL’s career management guidance for young men like Gordon is pathetic. With Gordon suspended and Miles Austin a free agent, the Browns only have WR Andrew Hawkins as a reliable name in the receiving corps. They need lots of help. UPDATE: Cleveland sign former Chief WR D Bowe and former Dolphin WR B Hartline. (Same ol’ same ‘ol Browns….patch work roster moves)
TEs– Jordan Cameron is a big-time tight end in the NFL, and he wants out of Cleveland big-time. Cameron, a free agent, has been quite vocal about wanting to leave, so Cleveland won’t offer him a lot to stay. He would be very welcome and productive on teams like Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, New England, and Denver who could use a great like Cameron in their offense. UPDATE: TE Jordan Cameron’s wish came true, and he’s out of Cleveland and now a Dolphin in Miami. To replace Cameron, the Browns signed former Cardinal TE Rob Housler to a one-year, $1.76 million contract. He has minimal fantasy value, because of the QB situation in Cleveland.

K– Hartley took over for Billy Cundiff for the final 3 weeks of the 2014 season.

Cleveland ranked as the #22 defense in the league this past season. They were 12th in 2013, and 17th in 2012, so under Pettine, even the defense took a step backwards. The offense needs so much help from the draft and free agency that it is difficult to see the Browns addressing too many positions on the defense. They will likely end up around #22 ranked again. UPDATE: Browns sign CB Tramon Williams, DE John Hughes and DL Randy Starks.

2014 Cleveland Fantasy Surprises – It isn’t Cleveland’s “modus operandi” to run a 3 running back rotation, but it might be Pettine’s. It was surprising that Cleveland thought they could get much out of WR Miles Austin. He could only play 11 games for Dallas in 2013. He was placed on injured reserve by the Browns on December 3, 2014.

2015 Free Agents that Cleveland Needs to Address –
The Browns have plenty off concerns to deal with, but fortunately, a ton of free agents to deal with, isn’t one of them. QB Brian Hoyer (signed w/ Houston)- TE Jordan Cameron (signed w/ Miami)- WR Miles Austin (signed w/ Philadelphia) – S Jim Leonhard- DT Ahtyba Rubin (signed w/ Seattle)- DE Jabaal Sheard (signed w/ New England)

2015 NFL Draft-
The immediate needs of Cleveland are at quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, and help at right tackle and any upgrade on the defense they can afford after addressing the offense. The Bengals need to decide on free agent Hoyer (QB), they need a new group of receivers (WRs), if Jordan Cameron bolts, a tight end (TE) and the need someone solid to help run block (RT).

Did You Know–
The 2 NFL head coaches whom Mike Pettine has served under, previous to getting the Browns head coaching position, were Rex Ryan and Doug Marrone? All three were head coaches in 2014, and between the 3 of them, they totaled 15 wins and 33 losses.

Team home page: