Johnny Manziel will start at quarterback when the Cleveland Browns battle the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, the team announced Friday on its official website. While the former Heisman Trophy winner is more erratic than Josh McCown, his playmaking ability does help the fantasy value of the weapons around him.
McCown remains in the league’s concussion protocol after getting injured during a season-opening loss to the New York Jets. Browns head coach Mike Pettine previously confirmed the 36-year-old is still viewed as the starter when healthy, per NFL Media’s Steve Wyche (via NFL.com’s Marc Sessler). For now, however, it’s time for Johnny Football.
Manziel is the perfect example of a boom-or-bust option. He completed just 54 percent of his throws after coming on in relief last week and had three turnovers with just one touchdown.
Yet, his 7.6 yards per attempt ranked him 13th in the league ahead of marquee names like Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson. He also brings the added element of using his legs to the equation, gaining a team-high 35 yards on the ground.
For his teammates, that ability to keep plays alive and have the occasional highlight-reel moment should be a positive from a fantasy perspective.
Wide receiver Travis Benjamin showcased that in Week 1. He made three catches for 89 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown reception from Manziel in the second quarter. He could be the top target again this week and is a prime candidate for another long-range score. It makes him a sneaky waiver-wire option.
The fourth-year receiver is certainly confident in his ability to beat defenses over the top, as Nate Burleson of the NFL Network explained (via NFL Media):
Receivers Andrew Hawkins and Brian Hartline also receive minor boosts in leagues that reward yardage and touchdowns—not so much for those using a PPR format because the Browns will likely try to utilize a more balanced attack to limit the chances of Manziel making a game-changing mistake.
That leads right into running back Isaiah Crowell. He gained just 20 yards on 12 carries last week, but he still deserves at least flex consideration. Two factors played into those lackluster numbers: a stout Jets rush defense and the Browns playing from behind for most of the second half.
Duke Johnson didn’t fare much better (22 yards on seven carries), which means Crowell should get a majority of the backfield work for at least another week. In what should be a closer game, his usage should be heavier, including some dump-off receptions from Manziel as he’s scrambling.
All told, none of the players from the Browns offense should be considered top-tier options by any stretch. But, with Manziel under center, players like Benjamin and Crowell deserve more thought in terms of filling out last spots in the starting lineup.
They have the potential to catch lighting in a bottle. That’s always what fantasy owners are hoping for from a No. 3 wide receiver or a flex player.
Read more Fantasy Football news on NerdyFootball.com