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What to make of the Browns' receivers
Berea, Ohio - Surrounded by over a dozen reporters armed with cameras, microphones, voice recorders, and notepads, Colt McCoy was asked to comment on the news that rookie Brandon Weeden would top the QB depth chart this preseason.
With an expression on his face like his girlfriend just ripped his heart out, McCoy answered a few questions before taking a jab back at the Browns’ coaching staff.
"I thought coming in it would be a competition,” McCoy said. “But again I've come out here and competed my tail off and I've really worked hard to get better and improve and I know I have and I know our team has. So from that standpoint I am OK."
Was I surprised by the news?
Weeden was selected in the first round of the draft and McCoy didn’t show us much in 2011. What did surprise me was how early in camp coach Pat Shurmur made his decision. Weeden kept stressing during his media conference that he’s had “10 great training camp practices.” I’m not sure a rookie quarterback, no matter his age (Weeden is 28), should hype 10 training camp practices as the reason he should earn the starting gig.
Still, it was evident to me during the two-and-a-half hour practice that the 6-foot-4 Weeden possessed the ability to throw the deep ball with ease compared to the five-yard hook routes McCoy became known for in 2011.
Is Weeden a quarterback fantasy football owners should target as a backup in later rounds?
The short answer is no, but with the caveat that a lot depends on the production of his young wide receiving corps.
“I think they made some mistakes last year,” Weeden said. “They aren’t making those same mistakes this year. They learned. They got a lot of game reps that are irreplaceable.”
Mohamed Massaquoi returns as the veteran with three years of service. He’s only missed three games over the last three seasons, but 101 receptions in 45 games (2.24 RPG) doesn’t scream “hey Fowler, draft me!”
Mass admitted in a post-practice interview that he’s not fluent in fantasy football, but did make a point to pat his receiver family on the back.
“We’re working,” Massaquoi said. “Everybody is pushing each other. We want to be a good group.”
Sometimes the best information gained comes from shooting the breeze with other beat reporters visiting camp. Rick Grayshock from Waiting for Next Year (how great is that name for a Cleveland sports blog?!) told me that with Greg Little and rookie Josh Gordon lining up outside, the middle of the field was opening for Massaquoi in the slot. At the very least, this could lead to Mass gaining fantasy value in PPR leagues. His receptions per game are something to monitor in later preseason games and during the first few weeks of the regular season. Chances are in standard 12-team leagues; he’s not going to get drafted and could be a waiver claim if needed.
Should I avoid Greg Little in 2012?
I don’t have any plans on drafting him. As I pointed out in my AFC Fantasy Questions and Answer feature, Little was second in the NFL with 14 dropped passes in 2011. That’s on him, not so much McCoy. Despite that fact, Weeden said he’s impressed with the talent Mass and Little possess.
“Those two guys, if we can all get on the same page, have a lot of ability and I have a lot of confidence in them,” Weeden said. “We can make each other better. Everything we’ve done up until this point is headed in the right direction.”
What about supplemental draft pick Josh Gordon?
Truth be told, I set my expectations low for Gordon and came out of my one-day training camp visit pleasantly surprised. To use a fun NBA cliche, his frame is long and made some nice snags over the middle during practice while working with the first-string offense. Not bad for a guy who made some mistakes in college (twice), but is trying to put the past in the past and believe he can help the Browns win tomorrow.
“I believe I do (have what it takes to be a first-string receiver),” Gordon said. “I definitely believe I do. I’ve been out here long enough, got enough reps with the ones and work my way up. I think I could help contribute at this point.”
When I asked him about fantasy football and how popular it has become, Gordon got this big smile on his face with a giddy-curiosity wanting to know more about it. He said he wants to play, but has to get moved into his house first.
“If somebody does take me I hope I can help them out,” Gordon – fantasy team name, Houston Heat – said.
Note: this story was published a day before Trent Richardson was scheduled to visit Dr. James Andrews about his knee.