With Cleveland Browns starting quarterback Robert Griffin III suffering a potentially season-ending shoulder injury and placed on injured reserve, the biggest beneficiary may be Pro Bowl tight end Gary Barnidge.
Barnidge, who had a breakout year in catching 79 passes for 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns, is set to be reunited with a backup quarterback in veteran journeyman Josh McCown for the Browns home opener against AFC North rival Baltimore.
Fantasy football-wise, the McCown-Barnidge dynamic could be an offensive blessing for the Browns.
In a Week 5 33-30 win over the Ravens, Barnidge had what was what would be his coming out party in catching eight passes for 139 yards—and a Stairmaster-esque, between-the-legs—touchdown.
If you look deeper at the analytics, Barnidge caught six of his nine total touchdowns, in emerging as a solid and reliable TE1/TE2 option in standard and deeper leagues, per FantasyPros.com
One should also consider Barnidge’s recent history vs. Baltimore as he averaged 7.5 catches, 10.5 targets, 115 yards receiving and one touchdown in two games last year. With McCown back under center again and newer weapons on the outside such as rookie Corey Coleman and converted wideout in Terrelle Pryor Sr, look for McCown to find Barnidge open in the middle of the field on seam routes and third down conversions.
Also, look for the 6’6 250-pounder to also be a prime red zone target for the offensively-challenged Browns offense as well for the rest of the 2016-17 season going forward.
Thanks to his less-than-specular goose egg of a stat line in vs. the Eagles with RGIII under center, buy “The Barn” with full confidence in a bounce-back performance with McCown at the helm.
Projected FFL stat line: 10 catches, 97 yards, and two touchdowns.