Cleveland Browns team preview

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The Browns were the surprise of the NFL last year. Forever clumped with the Clippers, Royals, Pirates, and Arizona Cardinals as a perennial loser, all that changed when Derek Anderson led Cleveland to a 10-6 record. They did it with a blitzkrieg offense, which means they have a lot of desirable players for fantasy teams. Braylon Edwards will be the first Brown taken in fantasy leagues, but Anderson and tight end Kellen Winslow won't be far behind.

Quarterback
Derek Anderson
2007 stats: 3,787 yards, 29 TD, 19 INT
Notable backup: Brady Quinn

Remember Charlie Frye? He was the Browns week one starter last season. That was after the team drafted local kid Brady Quinn to be their quarterback of the future. No one in the Cleveland organization expected Anderson have to the kind of 2007 he did, but they sure are glad it happened. Somehow, the Browns stumbled onto a 24-year old franchise signal caller, and he returns this year with even more weapons. Anderson enters 2008 as a preseason top ten fantasy quarterback, and it shouldn't be surprising to anyone if he matches the 29 touchdowns he tossed last season. Anderson is probably fifth round pick in most drafts.

Running back
Jamal Lewis
2007 stats: 248 rec yards, 1,304 rush yards, 11 TD

Cleveland may be the only team in the NFL that doesn't get the 'notable backup' tag for it's running back. This is Jamal Lewis' show here people, with only ex-Northwester runner Jason Wright backing him up. Lewis was a tank last year, his first in Cleveland, but he's not a great fantasy option. Running back tend to decline immensely once they creep up on 30, and Lewis will be 29 when the Browns open their season. One saving grace for Lewis' fantasy prospects is the Browns stellar offensive line. Still, I'd be wary of grabbing him in the first three rounds.

Wide Receiver
Braylon Edwards
2007 stats: 80 recs, 1,289 yards, 16 TD

I remember when the Bears had the fourth pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, I wanted them to take anyone but Edwards, a Michigan product. Oops (can I blame that one on David Terrell? Thanks). Edwards averaged a touchdown a game last season, and only Randy Moss scored more. At just 25, there is no reason to think he won't get better. Edwards is one of the four best receivers in football, fantasy or not, and will taken in the first three rounds of most drafts.

Donte Stallworth
2007 stats: 46 recs, 697 yards, 3 TD
Notable backup: Joe Jurevicius

Cleveland plucked the speedy Stallworth from the Patriots this offseason to keep double teams away from Edwards. Stallworth was a perfect compliment for Randy Moss last season in New England, and things shouldn't change in Cleveland. Because of his slight build, Stallworth doesn't score a lot of touchdowns, so he's not a great fantasy option. Still, he could be a good late round pick up. You know the Browns are going to throw it all over the place, so Stallworth is in a good spot.

Tight end
Kellen Winslow Jr.
2007 stats: 82 recs, 1,106 yards, 5 TD

The last two seasons, Winslow has fulfilled his immense potential and developed into one of the best tight ends in the league. He'll likely be a favorite target of Anderson's around the red zone, so expect his touchdown numbers to take a big jump. Winslow is expect to be taken in the fourth or fifth round of most fantasy drafts.

Defense
2007 stats: 28 sacks, 17 INT, 18 points allowed per game

Even with the addition of former Packers defensive tackle Corey Williams, Cleveland's defense should not be drafted in fantasy leagues. Though head coach Romeo Crennel made his mark as the Patriots defensive coordinator, his unit finished 30th in the NFL in yards allowed per game last season.

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Matt Wood is a web editor for suntimes.com and editor of CenterstageChicago.com. He is also a contributor for satirical sports publication The Heckler. Have a fantasy question? E-mail him.

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This page contains a single entry by Ricky O'Donnell published on July 31, 2008 12:04 AM.

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