The Off-Season Outlook is a team-by-team series that will look at all 32 NFL teams and give a quick snapshot of everything relevant to fantasy positions as we enter the off-season. All salary cap estimates are taken from sportrac.com which I can’t vouch for enough. They are my one stop shop for all things contracts and cap space related. Feel free to send any feedback to @robbyjeffries on Twitter.
Team: Cleveland Browns
2018 Cap Space: $112,696,229 (2nd most)
Round 1 Draft Picks: 1st and 4th Overall
Fantasy Relevant Impending Free Agents:
First up we have the Cleveland Browns. Oh, you poor, poor Cleveland Browns' fans. It seems only yesterday you were wondering what the Browns would do with their #1 pick in 2017. . .well new year, and the same old Brownies. The good news for The Dawg Pound is that the two biggest positional needs, quarterback and running back, have plenty of talent at the top of NFL boards for the NFL draft this April. To help matters even more, they get two of the top four picks this in 2018. Cleveland has a lot of cash to throw around this season so don’t be surprised if they bring in some big-name talent whether that be on offense or defense. Let’s look specifically at each fantasy position.
QB: The Browns’ first overall pick is likely to go quarterback; the question is which one? Both Sam Darnold (USC) and Josh Rosen (UCLA) sit at the top on most NFL draft boards and are projected to be taken 1, 2 in the 2018 draft. Rosen, the more polished and old-school passer of the two vs. the more mobile and athletic Darnold. There have been reports that Rosen has reservations about going to Cleveland so if the Browns aren't sold on Darnold there is an outside chance of them taking QB Josh Allen (Wyoming) who was almost a consensus #1 pick before a rough season at Wyoming. Cleveland has tons of cap space and could also look at bringing in Kirk Cousins or an Alex Smith, the latter likely done in KC. What matters the most here is that the DeShone Kizer experiment might be short lived.
RB: The general feeling is that Isaiah Crowell will not return as the Browns’ starting RB and will look for a payday elsewhere. That leaves Duke Johnson as the only other RB with double digit carries in 2017. Johnson had a surprisingly successful season, finishing as the 11th RB in PPR format. However, Johnson is not viewed as a three-down back and the Browns may use their 4th overall pick to look at stud RB Saquon Barkley (Penn State). If you haven’t heard of Barkley, please indulge.
WR: The Browns are expected to re-sign Josh Gordon as an exclusive rights free agent to start alongside an oft-injured Corey Coleman. The Browns like both of these guys and they are fairly locked in as the two starters for whoever is under center. Cleveland does have the money to bring in a big time WR, but it seems likely they will spend that money at other positions.
TE: David Njoku was drafted as the 29th overall pick by Cleveland in last year’s draft. He split time with Seth DeValve throughout the 2017 season and ended up with an underwhelming 32 receptions for 386 yards. The good news is that Njoku isn’t even 22 yet and much of the offensive ineptitude was due to poor QB play all season. Don’t look for the Browns to make any significant moves here.
2018 Lineup Prediction:
QB – Sam Darnold
RB – Saquon Barkley
WR – Josh Gordon
WR – Corey Coleman
TE – David Njoku