The Cleveland Browns are 2-8. Their season has gone into the toilet bowl as they sit at 2-8. Despite a solid season by Josh McCown, head coach Mike Pettine has made the choice to go with Johnny Manziel for the rest of the season. While I think it is the right choice for the Browns, what does it mean for your fantasy team down the stretch?
Andrew Luck is out for the foreseeable future. Peyton Manning is out at least one game, and quite possibly significantly longer. Some of you invested highly in names like Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson or Matt Ryan, while others hoped Ryan Tannehill or Sam Bradford could fill the void of some injuries. We fantasy footballers are heading down the playoff stretch. Some certainly have holes at the QB position.
First and foremost, can we give some credit to Pettine and OC John DeFilipo? Let’s look at this three week span when McCown was healthy:
- Week 3: 341 yards (57% completions), 2 TD, 1 INT
- Week 4: 356 yards (78%), 2 TD, 0 INT
- Week 5: 457 yards (71%), 2 TD, 0 INT
These guys may not be able to win games, but they can certainly get it going in the passing game. Just look at what they did with Manziel. He was horrendous two weeks ago, but they made some adjustments and Manziel sure looked good this past Sunday.
- Week 9: 168 yards passing (46%), 1 TD, 0 INT
- Week 10: 372 yards (73%), 1 TD, 1 INT
That is a tremendous change, although I don’t understand how you throw the length of nearly four football fields and have one touchdown to show for it.
The number that was impressive to me is the completion percentage. It shows that Manziel is hitting his receivers where they need to catch the ball, which is key. He has a steady arsenal of weapons who are proving to be good receivers. Gary Barnidge is the real deal at tight end. Travis Benjamin is fast and a verifiable deep threat for big plays to happen. I love the sure hands of a healthy Brian Hartline. And Duke Johnson is a solid check down option who is a big time receiving threat out of the backfield.
Last week, we saw from Manziel what made him successful in the first half against Cincinnati — but it lasted the whole game. He used his feet to create plays. In the second half two weeks ago, he was panicked and flustered and used his feet to escape. This past weekend, he stood his ground, took some licks, but made sure his pass routes were his first option, something that seems to have escaped Russell Wilson this season.
Manziel still has a ways to go, but he himself said that the game seems to be slowing down for him. That’s a huge step forward because I did still see him sack himself by falling over his own lineman against the Steelers. He did also lose a fumble, so he will make mistakes. But he did look rather impressive in his last outing, that can’t be denied.
Cleveland does have a rough schedule ahead of them, but he does have two juicy matchups at home. One comes after this week’s bye against the Ravens and the other is two weeks later against the 49ers. Manziel can cause some damage against teams like that.
All in all, any mobile quarterback is always worth investing in, even if it is to stash on your bench. He should be a strong match-up play the rest of the way out. Ask yourself this:
If you are a Matt Ryan owner, would you rather start Matty Ice heading to Carolina three weeks from now, or roll the dice on Johnny Football at home against the 49ers? I think you know the answer to that. There are plenty of teams a starting Manziel could help out down the stretch.
Go ahead and add Manziel to your rosters, but don’t be foolish think that he is the end all answer to your quarterbacking woes. Find a solid counterpart and ride Manziel’s tasty matchups to the playoffs.