The Cleveland Browns finished with a record of 8-9-0, which was good for third in the AFC North, one of the more competitive divisions in the NFL. Their offense and defense were both middling (23rd and 13th, respectively). I’m lucky not to have to touch the offense in this IDP Fantasy Focus article because of Deshaun Watson’s drama.
The Browns have a Top 10 pass defense (yards allowed) led by cornerbacks Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, and Greg Newsome and safeties Grant Delpit, John Johnson, and Ronnie Harrison. They also ranked 12th against the run with a solid front seven anchored by stud defensive end Myles Garrett.
Let’s look at the IDPs you should look to roster on your dynasty teams!
Myles Garrett, DE
What can I say about Garrett that isn’t already known? After T.J. Watt, he’s easily in the conversation as a top three defensive lineman. With double-digit sack numbers in every season except his rookie year, you can count on Garrett to sustain his sack numbers while having a solid tackle floor for a true defensive end. He also averages above 80% snap share, which is above average for a pass rusher. He’s stout against the run and will be out there most of the time.
You can draft Garrett with confidence as your DL1, but his trade value is a bit high as he’s in the prime of his career.
Jadeveon Clowney, OLB/EDGE
Much like his counterpart, Clowney was a highly sought-after pass rusher who went first overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. However, unlike Garrett, Clowney has failed to live up to expectations. After a short stint in Seattle and Tennessee, Clowney landed in Cleveland before the beginning of the 2021 season. He did perform well, but still not what you want to see from someone who was supposed to be a top edge rusher.
For the 2022 season, managers can hope to see him continue to build a rapport with the defense and is still worthy of a DL3/streaming option for dynasty managers.
Best of the Rest
The Browns lack depth at the defensive line, so there aren’t many other fantasy-relevant players to watch. Malik McDowell might be a player worth monitoring for true position leagues requiring a defensive tackle. 2022 fourth-round pick Perrion Winfrey showed well at the Senior Bowl but still has an uphill battle for playing time and fantasy relevance.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, WLB
Owusu-Koramoah, or JOK, was a highly rated linebacker out of Notre Dame. Many thought he would be a first-round pick, but news about a heart condition caused him to fall to the Browns in the second round of the 2021 draft.
Last season, JOK played 65% of defensive snaps, largely due to a mid-season injury. While on the field, he displayed skills that warranted his high draft grades. He finished the season with 76 combined tackles and a handful of impact plays.
JOK is a player who is capable of doing it all, and I see him being on the field a lot more this season but still not being a true “three-down linebacker.” He’s a solid LB2 with an LB1 upside. It’s possible you could acquire him at a discount because of the less-than-stellar rookie season, but I believe his ceiling is much higher than we saw last year.
Anthony Walker, MLB
After playing alongside Darius/Shaq Leonard for three of his four years in Indy, Walker signed with the Browns in 2021. He was able to exceed 100 combined tackles, despite missing a few games. Walker is the kind of linebacker who will get you a consistent 8-12 tackles but lacks the splash impact plays you want to see from an elite linebacker. Walker is a serviceable LB3/Flex option.
Managers should be wary of injury concerns with Walker. The Browns camp seems to think the groin injury that caused him to begin training camp on the PUP is nothing major, but we’re all-to-familiar with how a nagging groin injury can limit a player’s playing time,
Jacob Phillips, MLB
I’m mentioning Phillips here for two reasons. First, he is wearing the green dot in camp during preseason games.
Secondly, he would be the player most likely to benefit if Walker misses any time.
Phillips has been more off the field than on because of injuries. That said, he’s a solid player with a nose for the ball. If he can stay healthy, we might see him become the three-down linebacker in Cleveland. He can also be acquired late in drafts or for minimal draft capital in most leagues. It’s possible he’s available on the waiver wire.
Best of the Rest
The only other player worth noting at linebacker would be Sione Takitaki, but it will require a lot to go wrong in Cleveland for him to see any significant playing time.
Grant Delpit, SS
When Grant Delpit got drafted in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft, many Browns fans were excited to see an issue in their secondary get addressed. However, a torn Achilles in training camp caused him to miss the 2020 season.
He was able to return in 2021 but played as the third safety on the field and only saw 61% of the defensive snaps. Ronnie Harrison was the starter for most of the season before missing games at the end of the year.
With an entire off-season and another year to develop/recover, Delpit could find himself in a starting role. I know many managers who are still holding onto him for this reason. Now might be the time to move him if you can convince your leaguemates that he’ll be the starting strong safety. If you can leave him on a taxi squad, then do that. Otherwise, I’d consider him a cut candidate, but wait until we see how things pan out.
John Johnson III, FS
After posting two 100+ tackles seasons (2018 and 2020; missed time in 2019) with the Rams, fantasy managers were excited to him continue that production in 2021 with the Browns. To say that this was not the case would be an understatement, to say the least. Despite playing in 15 games in 2021, Johnson’s tackle numbers plummeted to earth (61 combined). He only had double-digit points (IDP123 scoring) in six games. That’s not something you want from a player who was being drafted as a high DB2.
Can Johnson build back his tackle numbers in 2022? It’s very possible. Likely even. I believe he will be able to return to some semblance of what we saw in his 100+ tackle seasons. I am still not counting on him as a DB2, but he’ll be a good depth piece for bye weeks and could potentially find himself starting for fantasy managers every week.
Best of the Rest
As mentioned before, Ronnie Harrison was the Browns’ starting strong safety for most of 2021 until missing the last five games due to injury. He plays well enough but doesn’t have the same potential as Delpit. He’s still worth monitoring in deeper leagues or off of waivers.
The Browns have a few big-name IDPs. Garrett and Owusu-Koramoah are headlining the list. Of this whole squad, only Garrett has a history of consistent top-tier performances, while others have a lot of potential. If everyone stays healthy this season, the Browns may be able to survive the drama and impending suspension of their “star” quarterback.
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