Say what you will about Johnny Manziel, but he sure knows how to make an impression. On his first pass as a starting quarterback in 2015, the Cleveland Browns quarterback connected with Travis Benjamin for a 60-yard touchdown in Sunday’s matchup with the Tennessee Titans.
It was the second time in as many weeks that Manziel and Benjamin connected on a long touchdown. Benjamin hauled in a 54 yarder in Week 1’s 31-10 loss to the New York Jets, which was also Manziel’s first career touchdown pass.
Things did not exactly go as planned for Manziel after that touchdown, but he appears to be doing far better with a full week of first-team reps. Manziel has thrown for 101 yards on 6-of-11 passing going into the halftime break, adding two yards on the ground. The Browns have been consistently committed to the ground game, running 16 times.
Until Browns coach Mike Pettine says otherwise, Josh McCown is the team’s starting quarterback. He’s been out most of the first two weeks with a concussion but remains a favorite with the coaching staff. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the Browns still plan to start McCown once he returns from injury.
That all but nullifies whatever value Manziel would have on fantasy teams. Even if he were to take over as starter, nothing about Manziel’s NFL performance indicates he’s worth owning outside two-quarterback leagues. He’s never even topped 200 yards passing in a game or thrown for multiple touchdowns. Given the proliferation of pass-first offenses around the NFL, Manziel would be among the worst half-dozen quarterbacks from a fantasy perspective.
The magic just isn’t there. Stop paying for name value and look at production.
Benjamin’s a more interesting case, especially as he continues breaking big plays. In addition to his two long receiving touchdowns, Benjamin also returned a second-quarter punt to the house for his third score in two weeks.
The hit-or-miss tendency of big-play guys makes Benjamin a risky play every week—the Browns aren’t suddenly going to be the 2007 Patriots when it comes to downfield efficiency—but he’s worth owning in 12-team formats at this point.
Just don’t go making any rash decisions and starting him next week. At least not until we know who will be under center.
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