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Cleveland Browns NFL Draft Fantasy Preview

Cleveland Browns NFL Draft Fantasy Preview
Brandon Murchison Staff Writer March 21, 2018 5:11PM EDT

NFL Draft Fantasy Preview Series – Cleveland Browns

Read the rest of the NFL Draft Fantasy Preview series – Washington RedskinsBuffalo BillsChicago BearsTampa Bay BuccaneersDenver BroncosNY JetsIndianapolis ColtsCleveland BrownsSan Francisco 49ersMiami DolphinsLA Raiders

The Cleveland Browns had an abysmal 2017, becoming only the second team in NFL history to finish a season without a win. From a Fantasy perspective, this team was not the easiest one to watch. Duke Johnson was the only valuable piece to own in this offense. The passing game was inconsistent all year, which bogged down the entire team. It’s really hard to get a rhythm going in this league if your quarterback play is subpar.

Team Needs: QB, CB, OL

Projected Top Three Picks

First Round: Saquon Barkley, RB Penn St., Sam Darnold, QB USC

Second Round: Martinas Rankin, OL Mississippi St.

As we head into the draft, the Browns have already been busy on the phones acquiring Jarvis Landry and Tyrod Taylor. These two additions are immediate sparks to an offense that lacked any semblance of spark in 2017. The moves allowed the Browns to have some flexibility in the draft and not be locked into certain selections.

With the acquisition of Taylor at QB, the Browns should make the right call and draft Saquon Barkley number one overall. Barkley is a special talent that comes around every so often. He has the rare combination of speed, power and will most certainly be a three-down back on the pro level. With the Browns sporting an above average offensive line, expect him to make an immediate impact in Fantasy in 2018. He’ll likely be drafted in the second round and should push to finish as an RB1 this season.

Even with the trade that landed Tyrod Taylor, I expect the Browns to take their QB of the future. They will likely do that with the pick of Sam Darnold. Two years ago, Darnold would have been the top overall pick in the draft, but a down 2017 season was enough to cause some doubts in scout’s eyes. He has the prototypical size that you look for in a QB, stands firm in the pocket, and is always keeping his eyes downfield. His release is a little long, which can give defenders an extra split second to make a move on the ball. Turnovers will be troublesome for Darnold early in his career, but he should pan out to be very good in the NFL. He will be an excellent selection in dynasty formats as he values out to become a QB1 in Fantasy sooner rather than later.

As far as Tyrod Taylor and the passing game is concerned, this will be one of the more fun offenses to watch in Cleveland in quite some time. Taylor has graded out 14th or better at QB each of the last three seasons, which not a lot of people know based on how he performed in the conservative Bills offense. He has never had elite talent to work with, now he inherits an offense with Jarvis Landry, Josh Gordon, and David Njoku. If he is given the entire season, Tyrod has the skill set to make him a steal in the later rounds in Fantasy drafts. Jarvis Landry should settle in as a WR2 in this offense, while Josh Gordon, with an entire season to play, could push to finish as a low-end WR2 as well. This passing game could very well surprise some people in 2018.

With the third selection of Martinas Rankin, the Browns will continue to shore up an improving offensive line with the hope of jump starting this offense in 2018. Rankin can play anywhere along the offensive line, and the Browns will plug in him where he is needed. The defense of the Browns will be addressed as the draft plays out, but with the trade for Damarious Randall, the need at CB will take a small step back. I expect the Browns to lock up the middle of the defense a little more with picks at DT, ILB, and S at some point in the draft.

Saquon Barkley Photo Credit: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

 

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