Mark Abell (our resident Browns fan) penned an in-depth look at the Cleveland Browns this morning. It was helpful to me since I don’t follow the Browns much outside of laughing at their perennial ineptitude. What stuck out the most was Abell’s skittishness regarding wide receiver Kenny Britt. Is this a case of one dejected Cleveland fan being too negative? Or is Abell spot-on with his pessimism? I lean towards the former.
First, the Browns have endured some changes. Gone are Terrelle Pryor (140 targets), Gary Barnidge (82 targets), and Andrew Hawkins (54 targets). For Britt’s sake, this is a positive. Opportunity is king in the fake game, and Britt seems likely to improve upon his 111 targets from 2016.
Holdovers on this team are Duke Johnson (74 targets), Corey Coleman (73 targets), Isaiah Crowell (53 targets), Ricardo Louis (35 targets), and Seth DeValve (12).
Another newcomer is tight end David Njoku, who was drafted in the back of the first round this year. The Browns released Gary Barnidge following the selection of Njoku, so it appears they intend to use the rookie this season.
The big asterisk in this offense is Coleman, who only played in 10 games in 2016 due to a broken hand. If you extrapolate Coleman’s 7.3 targets per game over a full season, he’d have garnered 117 targets instead of 73. Last year, that would have cut into someone’s target share (Pryor’s, maybe). This year I don’t think we have to worry about that. You can simply add Hawkins’ target total to Coleman’s and come up with 127 targets. That would still leave 140 for Britt, a number I don’t think he’ll get to without some injuries to the Browns’ receiving group.
In the interest of time (and word count) I am going to roughly project the Cleveland offense using last year as a guide. Britt and Coleman are projected using their per game target totals from last season. Meanwhile, Njoku fills the Barnidge void and Johnson and Crowell retain their receiving duties. Ricardo Louis is the WR3 option.
Britt: 119 targets (7.4 per game in 2016)
Coleman: 117 targets (7.3 per game)
Njoku: 82 targets (Barnidge’s total from last year)
Duke: 74 targets (same total as 2016 and 2015, no joke)
Crowell: 53 targets (same as 2016)
Louis: 35 targets (same as 2016)
That’s a total of 480 passing attempts, which is a really conservative number. Last year the Browns attempted 567 passes as a team, from the likes of Cody Kessler, Josh McCown, Robert Griffin III, Kevin Hogan, and Charlie Whitehurst. Okay, now I see why Abell is pessimistic. Anyway, even if Cleveland runs more in 2017 (as Hue Jackson has stated) the above target-totals are extremely conservative. That allows for Seth DeValve to be more involved, since Browns staff were impressed with him during the spring. The same positive drum has been beaten for Louis, so perhaps he’ll snag a few more, too.
For the sake of basic math and because we have a good bit of wiggle room, I’m putting Britt and Coleman at 120 each, and “rounding” off the others. We’ll even grant DeValve 30 targets (about 2.5X his 2016 share) and that still only brings us to 510 passing attempts, which is 57 fewer than Cleveland’s total last season.
So now we can prognosticate, right? Kenny Britt has a career catch rate of 54.6 percent, but last season he managed 61.3% in the putrid Rams offense. In 2015 he was at 50% and managed a 57.14 rate in 2014. For the sake of a somewhat conservative baseline, let’s split the difference between his career average and his best season. We get 58 percent.
Britt’s career Y/R is 15.8, and last year he averaged 14.7. Last year, Pryor averaged 13.1 and Coleman averaged 12.5, suggesting that this offense is a little more limited. However, as Coleman was a rookie and Pryor was converted from quarterback, I think we can lean more on Britt’s larger body of work. I’d like to arbitrarily give him 14.0 Y/R, which would be his worst mark since 2013. Seems conservative enough to me.
Touchdowns we’ll get to, but here’s the rough estimate for Britt:
120 targets, 70 receptions, 980 yards.
Without diving headlong into red-zone attempts and the like, let’s just acknowledge that Britt has managed 3, 3, and 5 scores over the last three seasons. Again, being safe...let’s give him three scores. That’s a final point total of 116, which would have made Britt the WR38 in standard leagues last season. Britt’s current rankings on FantasyPros (WR46) and Fantasy Football Calculator (WR50) are interesting, then. He’s clearly a guy we can profit from in our drafts.
Me personally? I think he could catch a few more scores than merely three. Say he caught five touchdowns...all of a sudden he is the WR27 in standard formats. I’ll give him four scores and a final line of 122 points, which would have been a WR32 finish in 2016.
Njoku looks like a future stud and Coleman should eventually be the guy. But there’s enough to go around in this offense, even if the offense isn’t that good. I love Britt at his ADP, especially in redraft leagues where he’ll likely fall closer to the WR50 range. I’ll take him all day at that price.
What say you, ladies and gents?
Kenny Britt will finish as...
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