What have Browns done for you? Or your fantasy team? The Cleveland Browns have been a bit of a black hole for fantasy production the last couple of seasons, with minor exception. However, one man has fantasy owners excited going into 2010. That man is running back Jerome Harrison. And why shouldn't they be excited? Jerry Harry put up numbers identical to first round pick Michael Turner in fewer starts, playing on a bad team. Over a full season that could or should spell fantasy gold right?
In his final three games Harrison was a beast, running for 4 TDs and 561 yards. Almost 200 yards a game. Despite only starting 7 games he ended as the 24th best fantasy RB overall, and number one down the playoff stretch.
On a team like the Browns who will struggle mightily with their passing game, how can you not like his chances to be a fantasy stud this season?
Well here are a few reasons why I'm letting someone else overpay for the 4th year tailback.
- James Harrison certainly opened eyes once the full time starting gig became his near season's end. His final three games were like fantasy Viagra for the Browns. For that reason alone, many owners will reach for Harrison this year, and he'll be overvalued. You can't read too much into his final three games as he faced the Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars. With his two most damaging games vs. the two teams (Raiders, Chiefs) who ended this season ranked dead last against the rush.
- Montario Hardesty - Sure the Browns staff is saying all the right things about Harrison being their primary back, and citing confidence in his ability to handle the full load. Still those who have watched things closely this spring believe Hardesty will play a more primary role, with Harrison in a lesser committee role. Montario Hardesty is a great north-south, tank of a runner. G.M. Mike Holmgren believes his running style will prove valuable in the bad winter weather. That assessment alone could spell doom for Jerome Harrison's value, or at least push him back into his 3rd down, pass-catching role. Regardless, this is shaping up to be more of a platoon situation, with a real chance that Hardesty could be the team's #1 by the start of the season. Keep an eye on this as the season gets closer.
- Peyton Hillis - Yes, Hillis. He came over in the Brady Quinn trade with Denver. Almost an afterthought one might think, but don't be surprised if he makes an impact in the Browns running game. Coach Eric Mangini has already alluded to such; Hillis "catches the ball well out of the backfield. He’s 245 pounds and he is a really physical runner. That's going to add an element to the offense that’s a little bit different. You could use him as the tailback and (Lawrence) Vickers as the fullback and you get a lot bigger,” Mangini added. “You could use him as a fullback with Jerome, and both of those guys are really effective catching the ball and even running with the ball. You can mix him in a lot of different places. He’s played on special teams.”
- Finally there's James Davis. Remember him? He was the heir apparent at RB for the Browns until Antoine Winfield trashed Davis' shoulder in first NFL game at home against Minnesota last season. Davis was a beast at Clemson keeping C.J. Spiller tethered to the bench for two seasons. He's looking healthy as he heads into camp this season, and he is arguably the best all around back on the team.
This is not to say that Harrison isn't worth the gamble if he drops far enough, but that's not likely to happen in most leagues as some fool will buy the end-of-season fantasy gaudiness and believe he's found his secret weapon.
I currently have Harrison ranked 25th, but I expect him to drop further as we see Hardesty and Davis progress.
As Droz said to Gutter in the cult classic, PCU: "Don't be that guy!"