The Cleveland Browns have acquired Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry from the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor for multiple picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Cleveland finished its abysmal 2017 season last in scoring (14.6 PPG) and went 0-16. Desperate to find playmakers on offense, new Browns general manager John Dorsey leveraged the team’s unprecedented draft capital into a trade bonanza Friday. What impact will these trades have on Landry and Taylor’s fantasy outlook heading into the 2018 season? Will any of this matter with Hue Jackson still running the team?
Landry the Star
Landry finished last season as the WR14 in PPR formats. He led the NFL in receptions with 112 and also set the Miami single-season record. He still ranked 17th in receiving yards, which is the Landry dilemma in a nutshell.
Landry is heavily used in the slot, where he ran 64.8 percent of his routes last season,1 a decrease from 72.7 percent the previous year. Landry has yet to threaten defenses vertically as evident by his 10.1 career yards per reception. Could this change in Cleveland?
The presence of WR Josh Gordon makes this an unlikely outcome. Duke Johnson and Landry should dominate the underneath routes and fill the void often left by the injury-plagued Corey Coleman. The best part for Landry will be working with new Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Haley called plays for Antonio Brown since 2012. Landry enthusiasts would argue that the two WRs possess similar skill sets.2 In Haley’s system, Landry will no longer have the Miami- and Tannehill-based excuses.3
Of course, there is still one potential fly in the ointment – a QB the Bills were desperate to jettison.
WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT TYROD TAYLOR?
Taylor has thrown for 51 TDs and 17 interceptions over the last three seasons and rushed for 1,575 yards and scored 14 TDs over that time frame. He finished last season as the QB17 after a QB9 finish in 2016. Hue Jackson has been very vocal about not starting a rookie QB in Week 1, almost guaranteeing Taylor owners can count on points in 2QB and Superflex leagues. Cleveland could still draft a QB with the No. 1 or No. 4 pick, of course, making this a disappointing landing spot.
Taylor’s ability to avoid turnovers makes him an underrated reality quarterback. He doesn’t take risks with the football, but this also limits Taylor’s upside, as well as the potential upside of targets like Gordon and Landry.
Hoping to remake their offense in more explosive fashion, this seemed like an odd fit for the same reason the Bills attempted to bench Taylor at mid-season. Of course, a 1-31 stretch fueled by QB incompetence will lead to desperate measures.
Scapegoating the QBs
If we assume coaching couldn’t have been the main problem, QB play is ultimately what let the Browns offense down in 2017.
The Browns will find themselves heading into the 2018 season with a solid OL, capable QB, playmakers at all of the skill positions, a collection of early round draft picks, and $113 million in team cap space. Jackson is in a prime position to game manage a potent offense if one final piece fits into the puzzle.
The stars are aligning for the Browns to select perfect RB prospect Saquon Barkley at No. 1 overall. If this event transpires, Mike Clay brought up an excellent point regarding Johnson. He could provide RB1 upside in a situation where he would see a high number of touches.4
Especially after acquiring Jarvis Landry, the Browns better trade Duke Johnson if they draft Barkley. Would be a waste to barely use him and he'd have no path to a consistent or impactful role.— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) March 10, 2018
Landry and Taylor should continue to provide consistent fantasy value in 2018. Gordon could be the beneficiary of the Taylor acquisition, although Landry’s presence eliminates the possibility of the insane volume he saw in his breakout 2013 season. This is also an interesting time to buy Duke if any leaguemate is panic selling the Barkley narrative.
Former GM Sashi Brown built the foundation for this to come to fruition. I’m intrigued to see how Landry and Taylor will fit in 2018.
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