NFL Today: AFC North Notes
Amari Cooper is the unquestioned WR1 in Cleveland. (NFL.com)
Alvin Kamara has agreed to plead no contest for a lesser charge in the wake of his fight last year; the NFL supplemental draft came and went with no players selected; and Jacksonville signed TE Josh Pederson, son of their head coach Doug. Check out more NFL news and rumours here.
Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Depth
The Cleveland Browns, currently +2800 to win the Super Bowl as per Fanduel, have struggled to put together an effective group of wide receivers in recent years, and while this unit should be better this season, it still ranks low on PFF’s list of the best receiving corps in the NFL.
Let’s take a closer look at what this team is working with.
Amari Cooper: Cooper is a slam dunk at No. 1 on this list, coming off a season which rivaled anything he had done before. He topped 1,100 yards for the third time in four years, and fourth time in his career, while matching his personal best in receptions and tying for his second highest YPC ever. Note that Cooper is recovering from core muscle surgery, but the team expects him to be good to go. After finishing last season as the WR17, he should again be viewed as a solid WR2 for Fantasy purposes with the upside to finish inside the top 15. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that Cooper is actually underrated (see video below). And not that we’d suggest doing so often, but the last time we told you to sit him, we were pretty much on the mark.
Elijah Moore: Added via trade with the Jets in March, Moore wasn’t targeted nearly as much in his second season after such a promising rookie effort in 2021. There’s definitely risk here, but given his versatility, we like him as a strong WR5 option.
Donovan Peoples-Jones: Peoples-Jones experienced the common third-year breakout for wide receivers, hauling in 61 passes on 96 targets for 839 yards. Unfortunately, with Cleveland adding Moore via trade and Cedric Tillman through the draft, Peoples-Jones is going to have issues getting that many targets again. Consider him a low-end WR5.
David Bell: Taken in the third round last year, Bell is likely to be the team’s WR4, but Tillman could easily eclipse him in time, so this is a situation that bears watching during training camp. Dressing in all but one game, Bell managed 24 receptions on 35 targets for 214 yards as rookie last season. Given the competition he faces, he’s not worth drafting, but could provide value as an in-season pickup depending on how things shake out.
Cedric Tillman: A star in Tennessee’s tremendous offense last year (before hurting his ankle), Tillman was taken in the third round (74th overall) in this year’s draft. Another thing to watch for in camp is how the Browns handle their red zone packages — which of Tillman or Peoples-Jones emerges as the preferred target? This will help determine Tillman’s Fantasy value, but for now, he’s not likely to be roster worthy in redraft leagues. Still, as a dynasty option, he’s very attractive considering Cleveland targeted him to help QB Deshaun Watson‘s long-term outlook.
Marquise Goodwin: Goodwin has speed to spare, but has mostly struggled to duplicate the role he had with the 49ers back in 2017 when he was targeted 105 times. In fact, he’s only had 146 total targets in four seasons since. Formerly with Seattle, Goodwin signed a one-year deal with Cleveland and while we don’t seem him as someone we want to draft, his speed adds an element to the Brown pass attack that was somewhat lacking.
Pumping the Breaks on Darnell Washington
Many lauded the Pittsburgh Steelers for getting a draft steal when tight end Darnell Washington fell to them in the third round this year.
Apparently, concerns over his knee is what caused him to drop, but getting a player 93rd overall that some considered a low-first round/high second-round talent was a coup for the Steelers.
But that doesn’t mean Washington is going to be a Fantasy asset this season. For starters, tight ends are notoriously slow to develop in the NFL. But of greater concern in this specific instance is that at this point, he’s only third on the depth chart behind both Pat Freiermuth and Zach Gentry. So will Washington even be active on Week One?
Beat writer Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, for one, has his doubts.
“I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he’s a healthy scratch early in the season,” he said Wednesday on 93.7 The Fan. “I don’t know where he is (going) to play on special teams. And if he’s not above Zach Gentry on the depth chart, I don’t see how he gets a hat on Sundays.”
Washington is a fine dynasty league option, but right now, he doesn’t look like someone you want to target for your 2023 draft.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
American-born Brazilian bossa nova singer Bebel Gilberto has been active since 1977. In 2000, she released the album Tanto Tempo featuring the lovely “So Nice (Summer Samba).”