Every year we give our premium content members a team-by-team, player-by-player look at the NFL season that was. The coverage will be in-depth, but because the Dynasty Capsule series begins immediately after the season, we won’t use it to discuss free agency or the draft. Come see us in early May once Mr. Irrelevant is off the board for another 32-article series giving you the same detailed discussion you’ll see below.
Buckle up dynasty fans, because you’re about to be reminded why our motto is, “There is no off-season.”
For now, get ready for an up-close and personal look at the projected futures of Cleveland Browns’ offensive dynasty assets from a lifelong, diehard fan. Also,all of the trade examples are courtesy of the DLF Trade Finder, but please remember these are just examples. The specific market value of any player will be determined by the competitiveness of your league and the intelligence of the opposing owner in your negotiations.
Baker Mayfield (JAN ADP: 89.67, QB9)
It’s been said: “The night is always darkest just before the dawn.” For us diehard Cleveland Browns fans, we’ve seen a Game of Thrones style, 19 year-long period of bitterly cold darkness searching for our franchise field general. That all changed on Thursday, September 20, 2018, when Baker Mayfield stepped on the field with the Browns trailing 14-0 and looking for their first win in 19 months.
Mayfield rallied the team and the entire city of Cleveland for the victory and was named the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season. Unfortunately, the Oklahoma rookie didn’t reach his full potential in the first six games (58.9% completion, eight touchdowns, six interceptions) due to head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s contest for control of the offense. The Browns rookie really flourished (68.4% completion, 19 touchdowns, eight interceptions) after purging the Jackson/Haley virus and installing Freddie Kitchens as head of the offense.
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Mayfield set the NFL record for touchdown passes by a rookie (27), won the sports writer’s award for Rookie of the Year, and it seems we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of his potential. The Browns hiring of Freddie Kitchens as their head coach allows continuity of offensive scheme for the young signal caller which is crucial for his development. New offensive coordinator Todd Monken should also be a positive influence in the former Sooner’s development. Both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston posted career highs in completion percentage and quarterback rating under Monken’s tutelage in 2018.
There’s no reason Mayfield shouldn’t be a reliable QB1 with top-five upside for the next five to ten years. However, due to the opiate of the fantasy football masses known as recency bias, a Mayfield owner in a single quarterback format (who already has one of the top ten quarterbacks on their roster) should look to sell high. Yet, if I’m in a superflex league, I’m only trading the Browns’ quarterback for a Godfather offer as the fiery youngster should propel both the organization and those with dynasty shares to compete for championships for the next decade.
Tyrod Taylor (JAN ADP: N/A, QB36)
Just like the Browns’ front office and coaching staff, those dynasty owners who planned to use Tyrod Taylor as a bridge quarterback in 2018 were sorely disappointed with his dreadful performance (42/85, 473 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions) through three and a half games. Had the former Bills quarterback not gotten injured right before halftime in week four, he was a strong candidate to be replaced by the number one overall pick coming out of the locker room.
In a superflex or two-quarterback league, Taylor is a fine stash candidate granted he may get a chance to compete for a starting job on another team in 2019. The speedy quarterback should be left on the waiver wire of any league without said ability to start multiple signal callers given how terrible the Browns offense looked with him at the helm.
Nick Chubb (JAN ADP: 14.83, RB8)
Jackson and Haley seemed to be the only two people in the world who didn’t believe Chubb needed to get more touches after his 105-yard, two-touchdown week four performance in Oakland on just three carries. Unfortunately, these two men were the ones responsible for giving the Georgia product more work as he only received six carries combined in weeks five and six. Thankfully for those with dynasty shares of Chubb and Browns’ fans alike, Carlos Hyde was traded in week seven while the Hue/Haley two-headed monster of mediocrity were relieved of their duties a week later.
Chubb flourished once given his shot. He finished the season with 996 rushing yards (he had 1,001 but lost five yards on his final carry of the season), eight touchdowns, as a finalist for Offensive Rookie of the Year, and as the PPR RB17 in fantasy football. The biggest and best surprise in Chubb’s dominant rookie campaign was his involvement in the passing offense. The former Bulldog only had 13 receptions for 148 yards in his final three collegiate seasons but exceeded those numbers in 2018 converting 29 targets into 20 receptions, 149 yards, and two scores. Look for new head coach Freddie Kitchens to find more creative ways to use Chubb in the aerial attack moving forward.
In the last two months, the UGA alum has been traded straight up for Le’Veon Bell and as part of a two-for-one in acquiring Melvin Gordon and Jordan Reed. I wouldn’t fault anyone for bartering Chubb for an established running back like Gordon, but I’m holding or buying unless someone wants to overpay. Chubb’s dominant rookie campaign was no fluke as he was rated by Pro Football Focus as the most elusive back in the league. At just 23 years old, there’s no reason to believe the Browns workhorse running back shouldn’t put up RB1 numbers for the foreseeable future.
Duke Johnson, (JAN ADP: 120.33, RB39)
The overall improvement of the Cleveland offense has come at the expense of Johnson’s dynasty value. The satellite back from The U set career lows in both rushing yards (201) and all receiving statistics (62 targets, 47 receptions, and 429 yards) this past season while finishing below an RB3/Flex play (RB38) for the first time. The issue is twofold. Duke is neither one of the few offensive playmakers on the Browns as there are a lot of mouths to feed (a sentence I’m not sure I would ever write in my lifetime) nor does he have the ample opportunity to rack up garbage-time production as in years past.
Johnson’s dynasty stock looks to have cratered. He was swapped for Gerald Everett earlier this month as his RB1 finish (RB11) in 2017 seems like a lifetime ago. I’m holding onto the Cleveland backup running back for now, but outside of Chubb missing time (heaven forbid) only as a possible bye-week fill-in. While it would break my heart as a Browns fan, a trade out of Cleveland would resurrect his dynasty worth. Yet, this is far from a guarantee as Duke was given a three-year, $15.6-million contract this past summer.
Dontrell Hilliard (JAN ADP: N/A)
Hilliard has almost zero dynasty value as the Tulane product is best known by Duke Johnson owners (hand raised) for stealing 19 PPR points (nine receptions/105 yards) from his teammate in 2018.
Jarvis Landry (JAN ADP: 44.17, WR20)
Yes, Jarvis “Juice” Landry failed to finish inside the fantasy top 15 (WR18) at wide receiver for the first time since his rookie campaign in 2014. Yet, the fact Landry was still able to put up WR2 numbers despite being on a new team, losing field-stretching deep threat Josh Gordon after week one, an early season quarterback change, and the firing of both his head coach and offensive coordinator halfway through the season is a positive sign for those with dynasty shares.
Entering his prime at age 26, the LSU alum’s stock looks to be trending upwards as there are a few things working in his favor. First and foremost, Landry’s 148 targets were still in the top ten at all positions for the entire league. Plus, he will almost assuredly improve on his career-worst 54.4% catch rate as he develops more chemistry with his franchise quarterback (Jackson had refused to give said quarterback any training camp reps with the starters). Also, the Browns’ lack of a big, physical WR on the outside (i.e. Josh Gordon) allowed not only allowed defenses to key in on the former Dolphin, but didn’t allow him the space to operate in his office across the middle of the field.
Given his ADP, rankings, and trade value, I believe the dynasty community is properly valuing Jarvis Landry as a WR2. Those fake footballers who are upset with Landry’s 2018 performance likely expected him to replicate his top-five finish (WR4) from a season ago. That WR1 production from the former Tiger was the exception and not the rule.
Based on the state of your roster at this moment, I would be okay with either buying or selling Landry as long as it’s at the correct WR2 price. However, it’s crucial to stay vigilant as his perceived value might decrease if (when) the Browns either draft or sign their Gordon replacement. At this time, his actual value should increase, but at worst will remain the same creating a unique buying opportunity. It’s no surprise Juice had his best statistical game of the season (7-106) in week one with Gordon playing 69 offensive snaps.
Antonio Callaway (JAN ADP: 105.83, WR41)
A rookie season which appeared to be at a tipping point before it really got started, turned out about as well as can be expected for Callaway. The former Gator finished third on the team with 79 targets which he used his 4.41 speed to convert into 43 receptions, 586 yards, and a team-leading five receiving touchdowns. Given he was second in the team’s receiving corps in both offensive snaps (70.12%) and targets/receptions (5/4) inside the ten, it’s safe to say Callaway was the WR2 for the Browns this season. Will it be that way for the foreseeable future?
There are a few things working against Callaway. First, as mentioned above, Cleveland is in the market for a Josh Gordon replacement on the outside either through free agency (good luck!) or the draft. This new acquisition will likely eat into Callaway’s 5.1 targets per game. Additionally, Rashard Higgins (4.2 targets per game) has formed a nice chemistry with Baker Mayfield from their time this summer working with the second team. This is another instance where my Browns fandom and dynasty degenerate status come into conflict. It’s fantastic for the organization to have two talented secondary receivers like Callaway and Higgins, however, both men cannibalize the fantasy upside of one another.
The Cleveland receiver’s ranking, ADP, and trade value are rooted more in his potential than on-field production (WR53). I’m selling Callaway ASAP as both his perceived and actual value should decrease as the off-season heats up. The Florida product is currently a WR4 with Flex-appeal upside, but the likely personnel changes and the probable return of his slower doppelganger (Higgins) have his value trending in the wrong direction.
Rashard Higgins (JAN ADP: 239.33, NA)
The 2019 restricted free agent set career highs in targets (53), receptions (39), yardage (572), and touchdowns (Four) this past season. I fully expect Higgins to remain a Cleveland Brown next season which, again, is great news for the franchise and not ideal for his dynasty prospects.
While the Colorado State product is no superstar, he should still be rostered in your league and is undervalued at the moment. Higgins (N/A) is currently ranked lower than stone-handed, former Cleveland first round draft bust Corey Coleman (111). A PSA: while I’m all for rostering dynasty assets with high potential, a player who had trouble sticking on a practice squad is not more valuable than a contributing player on an up-and-coming offense. If you’re stuck with Coleman’s rotting fantasy carcass on your roster, sell him immediately for someone like Higgins who has actual dynasty value outside of name recognition.
Breshad Perriman (JAN ADP: 215.67, WR113)
Both the career and dynasty prospects for Perriman looked bleak after being waived/cut by the Ravens and Redskins in September. However, the Central Florida alum’s dynasty stock rose from the dead (cue Undertaker GIF) once he caught on with a Browns squad devastated by injuries and poor performances (looking at you, Damion Ratley) at the receiver position in the middle of October.
Perriman became a reliable weapon (particularly downfield) for Baker Mayfield in his ten games with the team and particularly shined in the last four (8/233/2). There’s mutual interest on both sides to bring back the former Raven, but temper those expectations. Personally, I’d prefer the Browns draft a long, big-bodied receiver (Hakeem Butler, please). Whether Perriman resigns in Cleveland or elsewhere, he’s still simply an end of the bench dynasty stash.
Damion Ratley (JAN ADP: N/A)
Outside of a six reception, 82-yard mop-up duty performance in week six, the Texas A&M rookie failed to take advantage of his opportunity mid-season and has no place on a dynasty roster except in the deepest of leagues.
David Njoku (JAN ADP: 72.67, TE4)
In the burning dumpster that was the tight end position in 2018, David Njoku’s top ten finish (TE9) was impressive. Yet, a closer examination of his week-by-week statistics tells a different story. The second-year tight end left his fantasy owners wanting more as he failed to break 50 yards receiving or catch a touchdown in eight games played.
There’s hope on the horizon for Njoku to improve his game-to-game consistency as new offensive coordinator Todd Monken is credited with the development of O.J. Howard over the last two seasons. He may want to start with the JUGS machine as the U alum finished 39th (out of 50) among tight ends with his mediocre 63.6% catch rate.
Make no mistake, even with the questionable hands, Njoku is a no-brainer TE1 who is still only 22 years young. If you’re looking to acquire the Brown tight end, please don’t overpay as it seems his perceived value is higher than his actual value at the moment. Cleveland (for probably the first time since I hit puberty) has a plethora of offensive weapons and I’m unsure whether Njoku will receive enough volume to put up weekly TE1 numbers. Conversely, if Njoku is the TE2 on your roster, look to sell immediately.
Darren Fells (JAN ADP: N/A)
Fells had 11 receptions on the season with three of those catches resulting in touchdowns. Still, 32-year-old backup tight ends have no place on your dynasty roster barring a significant injury to Njoku.
Seth DeValve (JAN ADP: N/A)
Unless DeValve gets traded, he shouldn’t be on your dynasty radar.