In a move that shocked the sports world on Friday afternoon, the Cleveland Browns traded for now-former Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry. The Browns have been highlighted recently as the team who’s got the most room under the salary cap, so Landry’s contract, although big for a slot receiver, is more than manageable for them.
From a fantasy perspective, this changes an awful lot for Landry. But not just him, though, as there are several other players affected by this move. Both Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman are the two wide receivers who are most affected by the trade, though how much is a legitimate question.
Over the last four years, Landry has seen an average of 142.5 targets per season while in Miami, but don’t expect that to carry over to the Browns. Across all 32 teams in the NFL, there were just eight other wide receivers who saw more targets than that in 2017. The Browns didn’t have anyone over 61 targets. In fact, there were just three teams in the entire league who had two receivers with at least 100 targets – the Packers, Bucs, and Dolphins. Suddenly, we must choose the player we’re cutting significant targets from.
You don’t go out and trade for a wide receiver like Landry not to use him, so it’s not likely to be him, though we did see wide receivers in new places struggle to see consistent targets last year. Sammy Watkins, Jordan Matthews, Kelvin Benjamin, Jeremy Maclin, and Terrelle Pryor are all names that come to mind.
A big part of the issue on why we can’t pin the loss of targets on one player, however, is because there are a lot of different variables with this team. While Hue Jackson is still the head coach, there are changes essentially everywhere else, starting with the new GM John Dorsey. He doesn’t want to accumulate more picks like Sashi Brown (former GM), he wants players. After acquiring Dorsey, they went out and signed offensive coordinator Todd Haley. While some assume that he ran one of the best offenses in the league over the last few years, you can argue that the talent in Pittsburgh was too good to fail. On top of those changes, the Browns will have a new quarterback under center in 2018, whether it be one via free agency (update: they traded a mid-round pick for Tyrod Taylor), or with one of their two top-four draft picks.
As you can see, it’s difficult to project this offense in its current state, simply because we don’t have all the pieces to the puzzle. Once free agency ends and the Browns make five of the first 64 picks (crazy, right?) in the NFL Draft, we’ll be better equipped to answer that question. I mean, can you imagine them landing Baker Mayfield at No. 1 and then Saquon Barkley at No. 4? That offense would look like a fantasy team:
The question needs to be asked: Is there a such thing as overkill? I mean, can you get Saquon Barkley all the touches he deserves with all of those guys on the roster? Would you need Duke Johnson on the roster at that point? I’ve stated all along that they should take their quarterback at No. 1, Minkah Fitzpatrick at No. 4, and then get Derrius Guice at the top of the second-round. Whatever the case, Hue Jackson is getting even more talent on the roster, and the bar needs to be set high for this team in 2018.
What it all boils down to and what you should be taking away from this piece is that Landry’s value absolutely just went down in fantasy football. Knowing the talent level of Josh Gordon, there’s little chance he sees fewer than 120 targets in the offense, provided he plays all 16 games. Knowing what we know about target distribution and that no team had two wide receivers with more than 107 targets, it’s going to be difficult to project Landry for more than 120 targets himself. Because of that, Landry should be looked at as more of a WR3 right now and not one with a whole lot of upside, regardless of who they have as their starting quarterback.