Only the fantasy football community can truly appreciate the greatness of Sashi Brown.
After becoming the executive vice-president of a 3-13 Cleveland Browns team, Brown was determined to create an infrastructure that would support sustained NFL success. He acquired young talent, and stockpiled draft picks while trying to turn around one the league’s low-achieving franchises. Unfortunately, owner Jimmy Haslam could never overlook Brown failing to address the quarterback position during his less than two-year tenure.
This season, however, fantasy owners will reap the benefits of Brown’s long-term vision. He constructed the foundation of a Browns offense that will explode in fantasy this season. Cleveland has acquired the perfect quarterback to guide their 2018 offensive attack: Tyrod Taylor.
There are varying opinions on Taylor’s potential to become a successful NFL quarterback. His detractors cite his diminutive size (6’1”), lack of patience as a pocket passer, and inconsistency on short-to-intermediate throws. Supporters will praise his success with limited offensive weapons, success on deep passes, and unique rushing ability. In redraft leagues, Taylor’s sustainability as a franchise quarterback is irrelevant. For the 2018 season, all signs point to Taylor producing the best fantasy performance of his eight-year career.
The New Alex Smith
Last season, Kansas City head coach Andy Reid created the perfect schematic on how to maximize fantasy production with an average quarterback. Alex Smith had his best statistical year in his 13th NFL season, setting career highs in completion percentage (67.5 percent), passing yards (4,042), and total touchdowns (26). The Chiefs surrounded him with explosive offensive weapons. Smith had a deep threat in wide receiver Tyreek Hill, a versatile rookie running back in Kareem Hunt, and one of the top tight ends in Travis Kelce. As per PlayerProfiler, Smith’s Supporting Cast Efficiency ranked second among all quarterbacks last season which allowed the normally conservative quarterback to take more chances down the field. Despite only ranking 13th in passing attempts, Smith finished eighth in passing yards. Finally, the hidden key to his career year was his rushing ability. Smith’s four carries per game led to the sixth most rushing yards by a quarterback in 2017. It was a tremendous all-around season for the Kansas City signal-caller, who finished third at the position with 19.9 fantasy points per game.
— FantasyData (@nfldata) October 26, 2017
The Cleveland Browns offensive weapons this season are even better than Kansas City’s from last. The 26-year old Josh Gordon brings the same deep ball ability as Hill, except at a 6’3″, 225-lb frame. Three-time Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry gives Taylor the perfect check down wide receiver option that even Smith didn’t have. Both wide receiver Corey Coleman and second-year tight end David Njoku round out one of football’s best receiving corps.
Most targeted #NFL RBs last 3 years:
1. Duke Johnson (241)
2. Theo Riddick (237)
3. Le'Veon Bell (226)
4. James White (212)
5. Devonta Freeman (209)
6. Mark Ingram (189)
7. LeSean McCoy (185)
8. TIE: David Johnson/Giovani Bernard/Melvin Gordon (177)
— Mike Randle (@RandleRant) March 28, 2018
2015 Pro Bowl Season
Let’s take a closer look at each of the last three seasons for Taylor. In 2015, his 19.3 fantasy points per game average ranked seventh among all quarterbacks who started at least ten games (FantasyPros):
Taylor was voted to the Pro Bowl for this season, which is amazing considering his limited offensive weapons. His leading receiver Sammy Watkins was 50th among all wide receivers with 60 receptions. Charles Clay’s 51 receptions with 17th among all tight ends. All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy only played 12 games due to injury and as a result, only rushed for 895 yards.
2016 Season: The Justification
In 2016, Taylor proved his All-Pro season wasn’t an anomaly. He again finished seventh in fantasy points per game. Taylor’s 270.9 passing yards per game average was higher than Tom Brady, Derek Carr, and Ben Roethlisberger.
His receivers in 2016 were even worse than the year prior. Robert Woods was his most accomplished receiver with 51 receptions as injuries only allowed Watkins to play eight games. Taylor’s most targeted player was Clay with 87 targets and 57 receptions. The receiving talent he will have in Cleveland this season is significantly better than what he dealt with at Buffalo in 2016.
2017 Season: Overcoming Adversity
Despite facing much adversity in 2017, Taylor still managed another productive fantasy season. He finished 17th among all quarterbacks in fantasy points per game, but this was with a coaching staff that clearly did not want him as the starter. Taylor was benched in November despite being told just two days earlier that he was the starting quarterback. After rookie Nathan Peterman threw five first-half interceptions against the Chargers, the coaches returned to Taylor as the starter for the remainder of the season. These were difficult situations for a quarterback to achieve top-level weekly fantasy production.
Taylor still produced seven top 12 fantasy quarterback performances, highlighted by the top overall performance in Week 9 against the Jets.
The Top Fantasy Players from week 9 were Tyrod Taylor (29.75 pts), Russell Wilson (28.55 pts) & Jared Goff (27.55 pts) #FantasyFootball
— Fantasy Football (@fantasyinfo) November 7, 2017
The Secret Sauce: Rushing Ability
Some stats on Tyrod Taylor the last three years in Buffalo: 51 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 62.6 percent completion percentage, 92.5 rating, 1,575 yards rushing. #Browns
— PatMcManamon (@PatMcManamon) March 10, 2018
From 2015 to 2017, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton rates ahead of Taylor in all major rushing categories. However, Newton’s numbers are greatly skewed by his prolific 2015 season. Newton scored a career-high 10 rushing touchdowns on 132 rushing attempts during his MVP season. Taylor has managed to produce comparable numbers on less successful Buffalo teams.
All the factors have come together to support a career year for Taylor in 2018. He is only 28 years old, with great weapons at every position, on a team that will be in negative game script situations often. Taylor’s deep ball prowess and rushing ability create a safe fantasy floor with top 5 fantasy upside. After achieving fantasy relevance in a conservative Buffalo offense, Taylor arrives in the ideal fantasy situation at Cleveland. He is currently being drafted as the 30th quarterback with an ADP of 170.90. With a late round investment, you can draft Taylor and enjoy a top 12 fantasy quarterback season.