Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 6/24/12
Typically when it comes to fantasy football, most times it is best to avoid drafting someone who plays for the Cleveland Browns.

In fact, it is almost an unwritten rule, like taking kickers and tight ends in the later rounds or doubling up on running backs early.

That the Browns averaged a putrid 13.6 points per game in 2011 meant that their top performers (Greg Little, Colt McCoy, Ben Watson) were merely bye week fill-ins for most of the teams that owned them.

So what should fantasy gurus expect from the Browns when it comes to the 2012 season?

Well, to be honest, more of the same, with a couple of exceptions as noted below. Sure the front office has added some new pieces to the offense, but, there will be an adjustment period. Uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position should be the biggest concern for people looking to draft players wearing the orange and brown.

Nevertheless, here is a breakdown of the Cleveland Browns for fantasy purposes during the upcoming season:

QB Brandon Weeden: Rumors have spread like wildfire that Weeden is already the opening day starter, even though the Browns have gone on record stating that whoever gets the nod, will have to earn it. Browns management likes the velocity with which the rookie from Oklahoma State throws the ball and the fact he can fit the football into tight windows.

There have been concerns, however, that Weeden will have to make an adjustment from the spread offense he ran at OSU to the west coast offense that Cleveland currently runs. The biggest concern for owners of Weeden should be the lack of a legitimate no. 1 wide receiver. He is a no. 2 quarterback at best who should be drafted no higher than the 10thround in most leagues.

Fantasy Projections: 2,600 yards passing, 13 TDs, 8 interceptions / 50 yards rushing

RB Trent Richardson: The rookie running back from Alabama, and the Browns' no. 1 pick in April’s Draft, should be the best option for fantasy owners. There is some concern that Richardson’s bruising style means he is an injury risk, but owners should take note that in three seasons at Alabama he did not miss a single game.

Richardson has also shown explosiveness at times, as he had close to 20 runs of 20 or more yards for the Crimson Tide last season, including an eye-popping 76-yard run against Ole Miss that also showed off his ability to change direction. Richardson’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, or line up in the slot, adds an extra dimension to his game.

The only negatives for Richardson owners would have to be the inconsistent play of the Browns’ offensive line to date, and that they may rely on him quite a bit as they bring along Weeden in the offense. Richardson more than likely will be a serviceable flex option/No. 2 RB. He should go anywhere from mid-second round to late-third round in most drafts.

Fantasy Projections: 1,000 yards rushing / 300 yards receiving / 6 total TDs

WR Greg Little: Last season saw Little end up as the Browns’ most productive wideout. He should remain the team’s best fantasy option at wide receiver this season as well. How well he does should depend in part on the development of the rookie Weeden. All in all, fantasy owners who take a flier on the second-year player from the University of North Carolina should expect modest improvements from a rookie season that saw him lead the Browns in not only receptions (61) but also receiving yards (709).

He is a low-end No. 2 wide receiver/flex option at best.

Fantasy Projections: 75 receptions, 850 yards, 4 TDs

WR Mohamed Massaquoi: MoMa has been somewhat of a disappointment for Browns fans and fantasy owners alike ever since he showed so much promise as a rookie in 2009. The Browns are hoping that 2012 is his breakout year; fantasy aficionados might want to be a little less optimistic. Massaquoi should be considered a flex option at best.

Fantasy Projections: 40 receptions, 475 receiving yards, 2 TDs
 
TE Ben Watson: Watson has been one of the most reliable targets for the Browns the last two seasons (105 receptions, 1,173 receiving yards, 5 receiving TDs). He could end up being one of the favorite targets for Weeden this season as the rookie adjusts to the offense.

Watson could be a late-round sleeper for fantasy owners who passed on tight ends in the early round in favor of other skill players.

Fantasy Projections: 50 receptions, 680 yards receiving, 5TDs
 
Must-have handcuff: RB Brandon Jackson
Jackson, sidelined for all of 2011 due to turf toe, should be ready to go this season as Richardson’s backup. Should anything happen to the No. 3 draft pick in April’s Draft, Jackson will see significant playing time. In 2010, replacing an injured Ryan Grant, Jackson gained over 1,000 total yards and 4 TDs for the Green Bay Packers.

Breakout rookie: Richardson
There is no question that the rookie from Alabama will be the best fantasy option on the Browns’ team this year.  The real debate, however, is how close will he come to the numbers put up by Adrian Peterson in his 2007 rookie campaign.

Fantasy Sleeper: WR Travis Benjamin
The rookie from the ‘U’ has a chance to make waves if he can make the roster as a slot receiver.

Potential Fantasy Bust: Joshua Cribbs
With the coaches stating they will decrease his role in the offense in 2012, Cribbs’ fantasy ceiling is fairly low, except in leagues that count return yards. Even then fantasy owners shouldn’t get too excited, as the chances he matches his totals from 2009, when he amassed over 2,000 total return yards, are slim at best.
 

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