The fantasy mess in Cleveland

Braylon Edwards may be the next Cleveland player to be shipped out of town.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - As a fantasy owner, the simple answer is - don't draft any players on the Cleveland Browns in 2009. But in reality, even a bad offensive team is going to score some touchdowns and give opportunities to fantasy owners.

The question for Cleveland Browns fans is how did their offense fall so far so fast? And for fantasy owners, is there a chance to get a bargain starter?

In 2007, the Browns offense led by QB Derek Anderson, WR Braylon Edwards, TE Kellen Winslow and RB Jamal Lewis posted 402 points, good for fifth-best in the AFC and eight-best overall.

Anderson, who threw for 29 touchdowns and 3,787 yards, was rewarded with a huge multi-year contract. Lewis ran for 1,304 yards and nine TDs and both Edwards and Winslow cracked the 1,000-yards mark. Edwards, despite being No.2 in dropped passes, caught 16 touchdown passes.

Last year, however, everything fell apart for the Browns offense. They couldn't score more than 10 points in any of their first three games, benched Anderson and finished the season with just four wins. The team scored just 232 points, 170 points less than in 2007 (a drop of -42%).

During the offseason, the team sent Winslow to Tampa Bay for undisclosed draft choices and is seemingly likely to send Edwards away as well. Should they lose both of their top receivers then no matter whether Brady Quinn or Anderson starts doesn't matter - neither will produce fantasy-worthy numbers. But it just might make Lewis a viable No.3 fantasy starter because they would have to feature the former Tennessee Volunteer. Lewis has rushed for at least 1,000 yards in seven of eight seasons.

If the Browns keep Edwards, then whichever quarterback starts has a chance to be a fantasy backup. Neither Quinn or Anderson can lead your fantasy team to a championship, but might be able to produce a week or two of quality play if spotted against the right opponent.

Edwards of course, has No.1 fantasy starter talent, if only he could stay healthy and interested. He had an ADP of 19 in 2008, but could be a bargain in 2009 coming off such a poor year (55-873-3). If Edwards lands with the New York Giants as rumored, he would be the perfect replacement for Plaxico Burress and could produce Burress-like statistics.

The Browns seem likely to go defense with most of their draft picks next week, meaning the offense isn't likely to get much help although they could use a pass-catching tight end to replace Winslow and a young, quick running back like Donald Brown of Connecticut to eventually replace Lewis.

At this point my recommendation is still to stay away, but if you must take a chance, Edwards is the only viable fantasy option at this time.

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