My name is James Koh and I think I’m in love with you.
I’m not from Cleveland or anything but I saw you from afar … and I really liked what I saw.
I mean, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t so sure about you at first. You had this really long history of being self-destructive and sabotaging long-term relationships. You churning through quarterbacks was so not cute.
But it was like you went on one of those crazy makeover shows and now? Well, in the words of Will Ferrell in Zoolander, the roster and the coaching staff is so hot right now.
I have Baker Mayfield as my QB2, Odell Beckham Jr. as my WR4 and Nick Chubb as my RB5. So Mayfield going in the sixth round has my face feeling flush. OBJ as the WR5 has me feeling butterflies in my stomach. Even Chubb in the back end of the first round hits me right in the feels.
You see, Browns, I find myself thinking about you and all your sexy ADPs all the time.
I’m not just taking a chance on you this year — I’m going all in.
Please don’t break my heart.
THE MONKEN EFFECT
My man-crush with this team all started when they brought on Todd Monken as offensive coordinator.
I watched in awe last year as he helped middling quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston combine to throw a league-leading 5,125 passing yards. Let me write that out again: The combination of this guy and this guy were able to pass for more yards than Patrick Mahomes.
And the ultra-aggressive Monken has a history of creating high-powered offenses. As the head coach of Southern Miss., Monken inherited a winless 0-12 team. Three years later the Golden Eagles were scoring nearly 40 points a game on 509 yards of offense per game.
Statistical growth in Year 2 for Baker seems like one of the surer bets in fantasy. Consider that Mayfield last year was on pace to throw for 4,337 yards, 33 TDs and 17 interceptions. And that was as a rookie ... without OBJ ... and while running a Hue Jackson offense.
It’s not hard to envision a scenario where he pushes 5K and 40 scores. His sixth round ADP is a no-brainer and a pick that provides a safe floor at quarterback but also exposes your team to tremendous upside.
I’m not into Reaganomics but the trickle-down effect in Cleveland is easy to see.
Going from a badly aging Eli Manning to an ultra-aggressive Baker should mean A LOT more deep targets for OBJ.
Why is this important? Well, you know targets to be a critical volume stat for receivers, but as I have explained previously, a stat called air yards is equally important as a volume stat. To summarize my column from 2017, “If a guy has a high target total, odds are he'll eventually make a play. If a guy has a high air yards total, odds are he'll eventually make a BIG play.”
Over the last three seasons, OBJ averaged about 11.5 air yards per target, according to Next Gen Stats. Compared to Mike Evans, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, and Antonio Brown, it’s the lowest of those high-volume luminaries.
Expect Odell’s air yard totals to rise, significantly increasing his chances to make huge gains and then, in turn, touchdowns.
Health is obviously a concern, as Beckham has missed 16 games over the last two seasons and has only played a full 16 game schedule once in five years. His hit-or-miss health is the only reason OBJ isn’t my WR1 overall; that’s how bullish I am on his prospects this season.
CHUBB = VOLUME
Fantasy football is a game of volume and talent, right? Well, Nick Chubb is overflowing with both going into 2019.
With Duke Johnson traded away and with Kareem Hunt suspended for half the season, this backfield belongs to Chubb and Chubb alone. I think 20 touches per game is an extremely reachable goal for the first two months of the season. Only four running packs cleared 20 touches per game last season: Todd Gurley, Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, and Ezekiel Elliott. That’s it.
From a talent standpoint, Chubb led the league in yards after contact and it helped him go on a rampage last year, averaging 102.2 scrimmage yards per game and scoring seven touchdowns over his final eight games. Oh, by the way, he averaged 19.8 touches per game during that stretch as well.
I have him as my RB5 ahead of guys like the aforementioned Zeke, David Johnson, and Le’Veon Bell who are, respectively: Holding out, mired in a bloody awful offense, and playing under the thumb of Adam Gase and his snail’s pace gameplan (Gase ran the fewest offensive plays in 2018).
Dalton Del Don is even more optimistic, ranking Chubb as his top running back and his top overall player in all of fantasy.
Even Cleveland’s secondary and tertiary fantasy options are enticing.
Jarvis Landry is still a 90-reception possibility found at the end of the fifth or early sixth round of 12-team leagues. David Njoku (late eighth round) is going a full round later than the uninspiring Vance McDonald.
Njoku averaged 8.5 air yards per target last year and considering O.J. Howard posted 11.1 air yards per target with Monken as his offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay, there is clearly room for growth in the air yards department.
And as a Week 1 streamer, the Browns defense is intriguing as the unit takes on a Tennessee offense that is without three-time Pro Bowler Taylor Lewan at left tackle. I can only imagine what kind of day Myles Garrett, Sheldon Richardson, and Olivier Vernon are going to have against this poor Titans’ offense.
For whatever reason, there is a thought that ending up with too many players on one team is bad. Sure, it blows when the bye week hits, but a good pick in the second round is a good pick, regardless of whether you have his teammate already.
With how the Browns are positioned throughout your draft, you could legit take home six Cleveland fantasy assets — a result I would be more than happy with.