Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers: Tyrod Taylor and Jarvis Landry Traded to Browns - Roto Street Journal
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Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers: Tyrod Taylor and Jarvis Landry Traded to Browns

Pathetic. Embarrassing. Puke-inducing. Whatever your negative adjective of choice, it fits the Cleveland Browns’ 1-31 dumpster fire these past two seasons.

After an extremely busy March 9th, however, the Browns have acquired WR Jarvis Landry and QB Tyrod Taylor via trades. Suddenly, Cleveland and their fantasy football prospects can be described far differently entering 2018, perhaps for the first time in nearly a decade:

Exciting.

Over the last two years under Sashi Brown, the Browns have been quietly building an unsexy but crucial foundation — chiefly, bolstering their offensive line while acquiring draft capital. Now, they’re finally cashing in and acquiring the firepower to build upon this base. With offensive-wizard Todd Haley architecting the offensive project, some serious fantasy fireworks could emerge.

Let’s dive in and breakdown the Risers and Fallers from Friday’s major shakeup.

Risers

Tyrod Taylor

I’ll never understand the disrespect for Tyrod Taylor, from his own team and fantasy fans alike. Yes, I doubt he’ll ever win a Super Bowl, and perhaps not even a playoff game. Sure, he lacks prototypical size. Yet, he spins a beautiful deep ball, is incredibly careful with the ball, and brings elite athleticism to the table.

In fact, in any season with marginal weaponry (2015 and 2016), Taylor has flourished on the fantasy gridiron. He was the QB8 in points per game over both seasons, and this was with a banged up Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods as his top targets. Hell, even last season’s QB16 finish (above Marcus Mariota, Derek Carr, and just six points fewer than Matt Ryan in less games played) is heroic considering Zay Jones and a limping Jordan Matthews were his top options.

Indeed, much of this success is due to his legs. Taylor has, afterall, racked up ranked second (568), first (580), and third (427) in QB rushing yardage over his past three seasons. While Haley has never worked with a QB containing such mobility, he is adamant in crafting offenses around his players’ strengths. Expect plenty of rollouts, bootlegs, and designed runs. Moreover, Haley loves attacking teams vertically, which fits into Tyrod’s abilities to buy time in the pocket, as well as drop dimes deep. Simply put, Haley is, by a long shot, the best offensive coordinator Taylor’s ever had dialing up plays.

And now we get to the best part: the weapons. Again, with minimal firepower to play with, Taylor’s largely delivered the QB1 goods. At wide receiver, Tyrod now has Josh Gordon (potential top-five talent), Jarvis Landry (arguably the top slot weapon in the game) and Corey Coleman, (an athletic freak not far removed from receiving awards as the top college wideout) at his disposal. Saquon Barkley might just become Haley’s Next Le’Veon Bell, and even if not, Duke Johnson ranks among the top receiving backs in the game. Oh, last year’s first round TE David Njoku still drips in the raw athleticism to develop into a nightmare matchup. Beyond just the skill positions, Taylor also lands behind one of the NFL’s top lines.

To say Taylor’s playing with his strongest Supporting Cast would be a severe understatement.

In my opinion, we have the perfect marriage of an underrated talent, meshing with a proven play caller, and joining now-loaded weapons cabinet. He’ll launch up from QB23 all the way up to QB10 on my next Big Board.

Josh Gordon

As emphasized here and thanks to Todd Haley, Gordon was already rocketing upwards even before this massive QB upgrade. As noted in my Haley Breakdown:

“If Gordon keeps his head on straight, there’s a real chance Haley squeezes the best out of him too. He’ll be peppered with targets, run routes at all levels of the field, and be moved all over the formation. Moreover, Haley will preach the little details and intricacies like footwork and route sells to further develop and refine Gordon’s immense natural gifts… The combination of Gordon’s own physical gifts and Haley’s track record of peppering and developing his WR1s lays the path for a dominant 2018.”

Now, Gordon will be playing alongside inarguably the best quarterback of his young, hammered, and unfree career. Taylor can make the throws at every level of the field, and, despite an incredibly low turnover percentage, is unafraid to sling it deep. He and Sammy Watkins used to make deep ball magic, and Gordon is 100x the talent with his head on straight.

Meanwhile, though Landry will inevitably put a dent into Gordon’s target share, the two are entirely different talents, responsible for entirely different route trees. If anything, Landry’s short-to-intermediate domination and punishing YAC abilities will help soften the coverage Gordon faces down the field. The two should complement each other perfectly.

I was already incredibly high on Gordon, so he only had minimal room to rise. However, he jumps Davante Adams and becomes my WR10, with plenty of room to leapfrog AJ Green, Keenan Allen, and potentially even Julio Jones if the chemistry and timing is on point.

Fallers

Duke Johnson

In the opposite of the case for Gordon getting richer, our earlier case against Johnson gained even more steam amidst these trades for a number of reasons:

1) Game Flow: The Browns promise to be much more competitive in 2018. As discussed with Zac Jackson on our own “Fantasy Fullback Dive,” Johnson greatly benefited from the awfulness around him. The Browns were constantly playing from behind, and lacked the QB and WR play to push the ball downfield. Thus, he received dump-off after dump-off, ultimately racking up his third-best 73 receptions. With Taylor and Landry now aboard, and a bevy of draft talent on the way, the Browns promise to take a major leap forward — if not in record, at least in overall weekly competitiveness. Johnson won’t find the game scripts so positive in 2018.

2) More Target Competition: It’s safe to say Johnson faces far more volume competition in 2018, especially from Landry. These two will be attacking the same area of the field on similar concepts, and, as adept a route runner as Johnson may be, Landry is the NFL’s best in this range.

3) Saquon Barkley…. This remains purely speculative, but the Browns’ odds of drafting Barkley at No.1 overall seem more real every day. This is especially now true with Tyrod lessening the QB concerns. The Browns are now truly, shockingly built to win, and the only thing missing is a Todd Haley Workhorse. Barkley is perhaps the best all-around back prospect ever, and you have to imagine Haley’s banging the table for his next (better) Le’Veon Bell.

All-in-all, the offseason has not been kind to Duke, largely in part because of how positive its been for the Browns as a whole. He drops from my RB26 to RB32 on my upcoming Big Board. 

Corey Coleman & David Njoku

Coleman or Njoku were already unlikely to make a meaningful fantasy impact, but now their climb on the target totem pole is even steeper. Truly, behind Gordon, Landry, and Johnson (or Barkley), there’ll be nothing but target scraps left here. Despite both Coleman and Njoku’s insane athleticism, neither seems likely to see enough volume for anything reliable. There will be plenty of Penny Stocks with far higher ceilings.

Neutral… OK, slight downgrade

Jarvis Landry

Landry’s the toughest to gauge here. He moves from the clear Top Dog in Miami, to a likely second-fiddle to Gordon in Cleveland. Moreover, Haley’s primarily dominated with pure “Outside X” type of receivers (Larry Fitzgerald, Antonio Brown, even Dwayne Bowe).

Yet, Haley’s also never had a short-to-intermediate receiver with Landry’s elite game. The offensive coordinator has always peppered this area of the field, usually via his running backs, and set talents like Le’Veon Bell and Jamaal Charles up with enormous YAC opportunities. With speed demons in Gordon and Coleman outside him, Landry should find enormous room to feast over the middle.

Landry also really developed his red zone game in 2017. He ranked 6th among WRs and TEs with 23 targets, first in receptions (18) and catch rate (78%), and tied for second in TDs (9). Landry was impossible to run with off the line, resulting in all 9 of his TDs coming from 10 or fewer yards out. In words I never thought I’d type, the Browns project to visit the red zone plenty in 2018, giving Landry plenty of opportunities to score.

All-in-all, Haley’s ingenuity and the Tyrod Upgrade give me hope Landry can remain a high-end WR2 in fantasy. The target decrease may sting, and he falls slightly from WR17 to WR22, now more in the Stefon Diggs range than the Doug Baldwin tier.

Summary

After some savvy trades, the Browns look poised to leap from burning dumpsters to lighting off fantasy fireworks in 2018. Tyrod Taylor drips in enormous upside surrounded by elite weapons in Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry (and maybe Saquon Barkley). He’s going to make a fantastic double-digit round QB. I’ll be sprinting to pair him with Gordon, who’ll benefit tremendously from the best QB play of his career, a play caller who can utilize him to the fullest, less defensive attention, and his first full clear-headed offseason. Duke Johnson, Corey Coleman, and David Njoku all fall with far less available targets. Landry himself appears to be the least impacted, as he may fall a notch down on the target totem pole, but Haley will utilize his YAC abilities to the fullest.

In the words of Landry himself…