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Best Picks by Round in 2015 Fantasy Football Leagues

Fantasy Football
August 20, 2015

There are value picks in each and every round of a fantasy football draft, but which players are the best picks of each respective round? We’ll answer that question here.

The picks assume a 12-team league and a points-per-reception (PPR) format, though it should be noted that most, if not all of these players would be in the same position in standard leagues.

If you can land a few of these players on draft day, you’ll be well on your way to building a championship team.

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Terrance West, Isaiah Crowell Post-Preseason Week 2 Fantasy Advice

Fantasy Football
August 20, 2015

The Cleveland Browns are looking for more consistency from the running back position after they finished 17th in the league in total rushing in 2014, but neither Terrance West nor Isaiah Crowell turned many heads in Thursday’s 11-10 preseason loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Here is a look at how the two rushers stacked up in Cleveland’s second preseason game:

The lack of touchdowns from West and Crowell jumps out for fantasy players, but the small sample size matters here. Jalen Parmele and Timothy Flanders are probably not going to steal carries from the two regulars during the season, barring injury. That means West and Crowell will have more chances to find the end zone when the games count than their 16 combined carries from Thursday.

Crowell managed to score eight touchdowns in 2014, although West only scored four times on the ground.

Touchdowns are the lifeblood of fantasy football from the running back position, and the lack of preseason scores is concerning. The Browns were a dismal 27th in the league in scoring offense in 2014 and don’t exactly put up a ton of points, so there is little reason to expect a significant increase in touchdowns this year, especially for Crowell after notching a solid eight.

West and Crowell didn’t do much to inspire fantasy owners’ confidence Thursday, either, once again failing to reach the end zone.

The yards-per-carry numbers (3.8 from West and 2.8 from Crowell) were also concerning, and neither running back tallied a catch. The two backs combined for only 20 catches throughout the entire 2014 season, so the failure to get involved in the passing game was not a surprise. That severely limits their fantasy value because so many running backs do put up solid reception totals every season.

West and Crowell also only ran for 16 combined yards in the preseason opener against Washington.

Coach Mike Pettine reassured fans the running backs were fine in the aftermath of that game, per Tom Reed of the Northeast Ohio Media Group: “No, we have a plan. It is a long preseason. Obviously, Terrance coming off the injury and Crow probably having too heavy a load at practice, I am not going to hit the panic button after the first preseason game about our run game. We will be fine.”

Alas, West and Crowell failed to impress again in their second preseason opportunity.

The only silver lining if you are a fantasy football player eyeing West is the fact that he received the start and more carries throughout the game. Dave Richard of CBS Sports noticed:

Had West taken full advantage of the start, fantasy owners would likely feel more confident. At this point, it is a safe assumption the two Cleveland running backs will split carries this season, which is a fantasy death sentence at the running back position.

What’s more, opposing defenses will likely stack the box against the Browns because quarterbacks Johnny Manziel and Josh McCown are not exactly Aaron Rodgers under center. That will mean less rushing room for West and Crowell and fewer yards.

As if that’s not enough, rookie running back Duke Johnson hovers over any fantasy hype for West and Crowell like an impending cloud. While he is yet to appear in a preseason game with injury concerns, the rookie running back was explosive at Miami and tallied 1,652 rushing yards and 13 total touchdowns in 2014.

Parmele and Flanders may not steal carries from West and Crowell, but Johnson certainly will when healthy. He has too much talent to ignore moving forward, especially since Cleveland’s running game has been so lackluster early in the preseason.

All of these factors combined do not paint the picture of a No. 1 running back option in fantasy circles. Neither Cleveland back holds great value until one completely seizes a starting role and sees a significant boost in carries, and the preseason production does not suggest that will ever happen.

If anything, Johnson could ultimately earn the spot if he looks like the back fans saw at Miami.

At this point, Crowell and West are worth a flex option at best for your fantasy lineup (although the wide receiver position is so loaded this year that you may be better off slotting a pass-catcher in the flex). Crowell scored enough touchdowns in 2014, but he is yet to find the end zone in the preseason and will split carries against loaded defensive fronts in an offense that doesn’t put up many points.

He also didn’t start in Thursday’s game.

It is only the preseason, but neither Browns back brings value as a pass-catcher, and the touchdown totals are bound to dip for Crowell if West starts and tallies more carries and Johnson sees opportunities. Proceed with caution if you plan on drafting a Cleveland running back.

Read more Fantasy Football news on NerdyFootball.com

Johnny Manziel vs. Bills: Stats, Reaction and Updated 2015 Fantasy Advice

Fantasy Football
August 20, 2015

Johnny Manziel flashed promise in the Cleveland Browns’ preseason opener against the Washington Redskins, and he followed up that performance with a solid showing Thursday night in an 11-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Here’s how the 2014 first-round pick’s stats shook out during the third and fourth quarters:

Recap and Reaction

First-string quarterback Josh McCown totaled 57 yards and two interceptions on 7-of-10 passing during the first half, but Manziel trumped that production on a 14-play, 96-yard drive that culminated with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Shane Wynn.

The NFL’s official Twitter account provided a look at the go-ahead score:

Prior to slinging the touchdown, Manziel used his wheels to roll left and escape Buffalo’s pass rush before firing a strike 37 yards down the field to Darius Jennings, as the NFL Network noted:

Former NFL defensive back Matt Bowen was among those impressed with Manziel’s mechanics on the big pickup:

ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler took note of Manziel’s improved poise in the pocket:

The Bills took an 11-10 lead with just over 90 seconds remaining following an EJ Manuel touchdown pass and two-point conversion, but Manziel couldn’t lead the Browns down the field for a game-winning field-goal attempt.

However, it should be noted a 17-yard pass that came on the heels of a nice scramble in crunch time was nullified by a penalty, per the NFL:

Ultimately, Manziel’s increased level of comfort under center was the biggest positive that emerged from Thursday’s contest. Big plays aside, Manziel picked his spots and delivered balls on time with sufficient accuracy, as his 75 percent completion rate (9-of-12) prior to Cleveland’s last-gasp final drive indicated.

Now the question facing the Browns is whether Manziel has earned a shot at the starting gig.

As CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora opined, head coach Mike Pettine is facing a tough decision entering next week’s clash with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

After the second-year quarterback told reporters Tuesday that his primary aim against the Bills was to “do better than last week,” according to ESPN.com’s Pat McManamon, it’s safe to say he achieved his goal.

Fantasy Outlook

Manziel’s fantasy stock is directly tied to his status as a starter, so it’s likely going to be another couple of weeks before owners have clarity on that front.

However, if Manziel is able to eventually eclipse McCown on the Browns’ depth chart, he’ll be an intriguing play to stream against weaker defenses.

The key, though, will be how much value he can offer as a rusher.

Since Cleveland’s go-to receivers are Brian Hartline, Andrew Hawkins and Travis Benjamin, Manziel and the Browns likely won’t be burning opponents with aerial assaults. Therefore, Manziel’s upside as a passer is capped.

Given the team’s absence of legitimate downfield threats, Manziel’s legs could entice owners—particularly if Cleveland turns to him as a primary red-zone option in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

But prospective buyers should beware. The possibility of rushing yards and touchdowns will make aggressive fantasy players salivate, but those tend to be volatile and unpredictable numbers owners can’t count on week-to-week.

Manziel’s raw physical talent will always make him intriguing fantasy fodder, but until he establishes a track record of proficiency in the pocket and is surrounded by more dynamic receivers, he’ll remain a backup option at best.

Read more Fantasy Football news on NerdyFootball.com