In this series, I use an internal version of the Projection Machine to explore likely outcomes for offensive players on all 32 NFL teams.
The Projection Machine employs a top-down approach that builds on team-wide assumptions to develop expectations of offensive output. I will use staff averages to help guide the inputs underlying the projections. Check out this article for further information on the process used by the RotoViz team. All 2017 Cleveland Browns projections are based on PPR scoring.
The Browns won a single game in 2016 while recording 567 passing and 350 rushing attempts. The team is expected to improve in 2017. Pythagorean win percentage forecasts three and a half wins, Vegas four and a half. After accounting for the impact of this improvement on game flow, scoring margin, and offensive tendencies, I arrived at the following assumptions.
|Scoring Margin||Pass Tendency||Pace Tendency|
|League 75th percentile||1.00||0.02||0.85|
|League 50th percentile||-1.25||-0.01||-0.85|
|League 25th percentile||-3.75||-0.04||-2.70|
|Browns 2017 (Projection)||-4.80||0.02||-0.75|
The Browns will favor the rush when game script allows. However, as the team will commonly trail, it will need to skew toward the pass. With a moderate pace and improvement in scoring margin, the Projection Machine forecasts 547 passing and 380 rushing attempts.
Can Crowell Really Be That Good?
The Browns are not expected to run the ball a lot, but the team’s running backs project as useful fantasy assets. Cleveland has a solid offensive line and a defined role for both RBs.
Isaiah Crowell was a surprise last season, racking up 205 points and going for over 1,300 total yards.1 The RotoViz staff projects him to account for 54 percent of the rushing attempts in 2017. With average efficiency and eight percent of team targets, he looks like a top-15 RB. If the Browns are competitive and Crowell’s attempts increase, he could finish as an RB1.
Duke Johnson is a premier receiving back. He was well leveraged as a pass catcher last season; out targeted by only Terrelle Pryor and Gary Barnidge. Johnson will be an integral receiver in 2017 and could spend significant time in the slot. His projection assumes a target share of 12 percent. He’ll remain involved in the running game and could earn up to 26 percent of rushes.
My Crowell projection is lower than the staff average of 199. With a standard deviation of 16, per the RotoViz Projection Wizard, his range of likely outcomes is between 183 and 215 fantasy points. Johnson’s projection is in line with the staff average of 161 points and standard deviation of 21.
If I wasn’t mimicking staff averages in this series, I’d project Johnson with a target share of 18 percent. This would give him more than 100 targets and closer to 200 fantasy points. This would be a best-case scenario, but it is within the realm of reason. Obviously, this projection is dependent upon his usage as a receiver.2
Kenny Britt! Kenny Britt! Kenny Britt!
Kenny Britt has a special place in the hearts and minds of RotoViz writers. The halls of RV headquarters are littered with pictures of the dreamy pass catcher. His bust adorns many a desk, and a life-size statue of the criminally under valued receiver overlooks the office gardens.
In addition to being a RotoViz darling, Britt is going to ball in 2017. He’ll assume the role of Cleveland’s WR1 and can expect a target share of 26 percent. Even if the team’s young quarterbacks struggle, limiting his efficiency, he’ll still outperform his WR47 ADP. Corey Coleman will earn 20 percent of targets. His projection assumes 50th percentile efficiency for a WR2. The staff expects Ricardo Louis to play a small role, garnering nine percent of targets.
Not every member of the RotoViz staff is as bullish on Britt. With an average projection of 200 and standard deviation of 30, he’s expected to score between 170 and 230 fantasy points. Coleman is pegged for 178 points, with a standard deviation of 20. Louis is projected with 86 points.
Pump the Brakes on Njoku in Redraft
The Browns have two young tight ends in David Njoku and Seth Devalve. Both have generated excitement among fantasy players. However, temper your expectations for 2017. The RotoViz staff expects Njoku to win the TE1 duties. With moderate efficiency and 13 percent of targets, he could be a relevant fantasy player. But it seems that his odds of being a weekly starter are low.
This projection is on the high end. With an average of 108 points and a standard deviation of 18, Njoku could merit flex consideration but has the potential to be a bench warmer.
His Last Name Will Start With a K
The RotoViz staff is divided between Cody Kessler and DeShone Kizer. Kessler was far from terrible in his rookie season, and the majority of writers believe he’ll be the starter in Week 1. However, the Kizer hype-train has been gaining steam and he has a legitimate shot at replacing Kessler as the team’s starter. There’s a good chance that each will start a couple of games in the coming season. As a result, the projection I present relates to the Browns QB, not Kessler or Kizer, specifically.