The “Top Five” is an ongoing article breaking down every NFL team’s top 5 best fantasy football options. Today’s team: Cleveland Browns
1. ) WR Josh Gordon – Explosive, raw and talented. Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is due to have a breakout year in new offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s downfield passing attack. Thanks to an early two-game suspension for codeine, many fantasy football owners will probably shy away from the former Baylor/Utah product.
Piece of advice. Don’t, because you will regret it.
Gordon has developed an immediate rapport with starter Brandon Weeden(look away Colt McCoy/Jason Campbell/Brian Hoyer-bots!) and combined with his raw and untapped talents and skill looks to be an absolute beast in the Browns high-octane offense in 2013.
Projected stats : 87 catches, 1,123 yards receiving, 12 touchdowns.
2.) QB Brandon Weeden – To go from the quarterback no one wanted because of his age(29), to possible fantasy gold is an accomplishment for Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden.
The 22nd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma State, Weeden struggled mightily in Pat Shurmur’s sad impression of a West Coast Offense (WCO)
Despite being handicapped by an inept rookie head coach in Shurmur, first-year players in Gordon, Trent Richardson and a less than favorable offense, Weeden still passed for 3,385 yards and threw for 14 touchdowns in 2012.
Thanks to a more revamped passing attack that adds free-agent possession wide out Davone Bess(a gem in PPR leagues), depth in David Nelson, a more polished and developed WR2 option in Greg Little and potential breakout stud in tight end Jordan Cameron, the fantasy football sky is the limit for Weeden.
While Weeden is not a first-round fantasy option, don’t be surprised to see the former Cowboy go in the mid-second or early third rounds in 2013.
Projected stats : 4,717 yards, 31 touchdowns, 15 interceptions
3. ) RB Trent Richardson – Faster, lighter and finally healed, the former top pick looks ready to roll in 2013.
The second-year tailback out of Alabama rushed for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns and caught 51 passes for 367 yards and one touchdown despite various injuries, looks ready to have a big year in 2013.
With Turner’s offense tailor-made towards using a running back as a receiver out of the backfield, don’t be shocked to see Richardson rack up big yards receiving in fantasy.
While the potential loss of third-down scatback Dion Lewis(fractured fibula) will put more pressure on Richardson, Richardson is a top-ten fantasy pick in 2013.
Projected stats : 1,254 yards rushing, 15 touchdowns, 514 yards receiving, four touchdowns receiving.
4. ) TE Jordan Cameron – If Rob Chudzinski can help make Kellen Winslow II and Antonio Gates into Pro Bowl tight ends, just imagine what he could do with former USC basketball player-turned tight end, Jordan Cameron.
At an inviting 6’5 and 245 pounds, Cameron has all the physical attributes a huge weapon in the red-zone and be the breakout player in all of fantasy football, due to Chudzinski’s tight-end friendly offense.
As the Chargers tight end in coach in 2005, Chudzinski would help Gates develop into one of the best tight ends in the game in catching a career-high 89 passes and 1,101 yards en route to second and third of his eight Pro Bowls.
In 2007 as Browns offensive coordinator, Chudzinski helped Winslow make it to his only Pro Bowl as the former Miami Hurricane would post a career-highs in receiving with 1,106 yards.
After a two-year stint in Cleveland, Chudzinksi would return to San Diego in 2009-10 as assistant head coach/tight ends coach and help Gates once again career highs in yards receiving (1,157) and tally his third-best career total in catches (79).
Basically, Chudzinski is the NFL tight end whisperer, which bodes well for Cameron having a breakout season for fantasy owners.
Projected stats : 73 catches, 1,049 yards receiving, nine touchdowns.
5.) Browns D/ST – Thanks new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 attacking defense, free-agent signings of linebackers Quinton Groves, Paul Kruger, defensive lineman Desmond Bryant and first-round pick Barkevious Mingo, Cleveland has possibly one of the fantasy sleeper defenses in 2013.
Horton’s Arizona Cardinals defense was one of the tops in terms of blitzing, injects a much-needed attacking mindset in Cleveland, which could lead to lots of sacks, interceptions and forced fumbles.
In 2012, the Browns mustered 38 sacks, 17 interceptions and 16 forced fumbles, with the additions of Groves, Kruger, Bryant and Mingo, Cleveland’s 2013 defense gives fantasy owners a fill-in D/ST to use on byes—or if you’re feeling bold in deeper leagues—a starting unit to carry you thru the season.
While longtime civic icon Joshua Cribbs is now in Oakland, the Browns may have found a worthy replacement in Travis Benjamin, whose blazing speed and potential home-run ability makes for a worthy gamble, if your league awards points for return yards.
In terms of kicking and field goals, there is no more Phil Dawson—otherwise known as the Browns MVP on offense for like, forever—while now have to rely on journeyman kicker Shayne Graham and rookie Brandon Bogotay.
Projected stats : 46 sacks, 20 interceptions, 21 forced fumbles
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