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Cleveland Browns Fantasy Football News | Shark Bites

Fantasy Football News 2022

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According to beat writer Nate Ulrich, the Browns are “confident [WR David] Bell is capable of making an immediate impact.” Per Ulrich, the plan is for Bell to be the primary slot this season. HC Kevin Stefanski, however, thinks Bell could do more. “[Bell is] a very competitive player,” Stefanski said at rookie minicamp. “Catches the ball really well. We thought he had some savviness. When you're looking at the draft, there are so many guys who can fit, and you better have a lot of guys who can fit in your scheme. It's really what traits do you feel like you can exploit, so to speak. We thought he was really competitive at the catch and has some versatility to play outside and inside.” The 3rd-round pick has a clear path to the slot role with Jarvis Landry now in New Orelans.

Browns QB Deshaun Watson is scheduled to meet with NFL officials this week, insider Josina Anderson reports. The Athletic's Lindsay Jones adds that meeting with Watson is one of the last steps in the league's investigation into the sexual assault claims, so it looks like we might be nearing a resolution in that department. (Watson still faces 22 civil lawsuits.). Stay tuned.

Browns QB Deshaun Watson had a legal hearing on Monday to discuss remaining depositions and the scheduling of a trial. With lots of pre-trial work still to be done -- and both sides agreeing that a trial won't take place between August 1 and March 1, 2023 -- it's now looking unlikely that a trial will happen this year, according to Cleveland.com's Adam Ferrise. The NFL is conducting its own investigation into the sexual assault allegations levied against Watson but tends to wait until the legal process has played out before deciding on discipline. That could change in this case. But it now looks more likely than before that Watson will not be suspended in 2022. We just moved him up the QB Rankings.

Browns GM Andrew Berry commented on the skill set of 5th-round RB Jerome Ford. "We really think Jerome has a well-rounded game," Berry said. "A bigger guy who can really run. I actually think one of the areas in his game that’s probably a little bit understated is just his ability in the passing game. He’s a guy we think can generate explosive plays for us.” Browns scout Max Paulus added that Ford will work on his kick return ability this offseason. Of course, Ford’s more of a dynasty hold than a redraft sleeper. Behind Nick Chubb, the Browns return contract-year RB Kareem Hunt. As an RFA, D’Ernest Johnson was tendered this offseason, although he’s yet to put pen to paper. "I wouldn’t touch on any individual contract situation," Berry said. "We still think very highly of D’Ernest. Look, we would anticipate him being here moving forward, but we’ll see."

Browns insider Tony Grossi believes “opportunity [is] knocking” for 3rd-year WR Donovan Peoples-Jones. Grossi notes that Will Fuller — connected to Cleveland long before today — could be an option down the road. But Peoples-Jones’ stock at least looks stable in the short-term, assuming free agent Jarvis Landry plays elsewhere. The Browns selected 2 WRs in the draft — David Bell in Round 3 and Michael Woods in Round 6 — but DPJ will enter camp as the favorite to start with Amari Cooper. The real key here is just how many games Deshaun Watson will miss due to suspension.

The Browns selected RB Jerome Ford in Round 5 of the 2022 NFL Draft. A 4-star high school recruit, Ford started out at Alabama before transferring to Cincinnati. He broke out as a senior with 215-1,1319-19 rushing (plus 21 catches) alongside QB Desmond Ridder. Ford’s tape shows some boom or bust tendencies, but there’s enough here in raw speed alone to pique our interest. At 5’11, 210 pounds, he ran a 4.46 forty with a strong 1.55 ten-yard split. Ford will sit behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in Cleveland this year, but Hunt is set to hit free agency next offseason. Chubb is signed through 2024.

11:22pm EDT 4/29/22

The Browns selected Purdue WR David Bell in the 3rd round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Bell is a classic case of production vs. measurables. He led Purdue with 86 catches, 1,035 yards and 7 TDs as a true freshman, boosted his per-game production to 8.8 catches, 104.2 yards and 1.3 TDs in a COVID-abbreviated, 6-game 2020 season and then ranked top 15 in the nation in catches (93) and receiving yards (1,286) this past year. Bell finished 13th among 251 WRs with 50+ targets in Pro Football Focus’ 2021 receiving grades. But he bombed the Combine, posting bottom-third-percentile marks in every drill, including a 10th percentile 40-yard dash and a 2nd percentile short shuttle. Bell finished with a 40th percentile Relative Athletic Score. That shows up on tape, too. There’s very little juice to Bell’s game – before or after the catch. He wins with crafty route running and strong ball skills, though. And that college production must be respected. Bell looks like a natural replacement for WR Jarvis Landry in Cleveland.

Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed Thursday that the league is still looking into the allegations against Browns QB Deshaun Watson. "We’re taking it very seriously," Goodell said. "Our investigators are working on that. There’s no timetable on it. The investigation is still ongoing.” It's confirmation that Watson is nowhere near out of the woods when it comes to a suspension from the NFL. We're currently projecting a 6-game suspension.

The Browns traded QB Case Keenum to the Bills for a 7th-round pick. Keenum replaces QB Mitchell Trubisky as QB Josh Allen's backup. Cleveland then signed QB Jacoby Brissett, who would be in line to start if QB Deshaun Watson is suspended.

Texans QB Deshaun Watson has apparently changed his mind and chosen the Browns as his next team. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that Watson is getting a fully guaranteed 5-year, $230 million contract from Cleveland. The 2 sides will now need to finalize the trade details, but Watson heads to a team with scant receiving options. We'll see what the Browns add to that stable and whether the NFL hands out any discipline for the QB. Watson going to Cleveland, of course, should mean Baker Mayfield getting his wish for a trade. We'll keep adjusting as this whole situation plays out. A fresh start in a potentially more favorable pass offense could mean nice upside for Mayfield. He's a low-risk bet late in current best-ball fantasy football drafts.

Update: The Browns are sending 3 first-round picks, a 2023 third-rounder and a 2024 fourth-rounder to Houston. Cleveland will receive a 2024 fifth-rounder, in addition to Watson.

NFL Network reports that the Panthers have been told they're out of the running for QB Deshaun Watson. With the Browns also out, the race is now reportedly down to the Falcons and Saints. We'll be watching for the final decision -- and any ensuing moves.

QB Baker Mayfield has asked the Browns to trade him, according to multiple reports. ESPN's Jake Trotter reports, however, that the team has told Mayfield it is "not accommodating his request." This, of course, follows Cleveland making a push for Deshaun Watson, which got denied. We'll see how the Mayfield situation develops. Should the Browns decide to trade Mayfield, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reports that the QB has "strong interest" in the Colts. Mayfield is now in the 5th and final year of his rookie contract.

The Browns are re-signing LB Anthony Walker on a 1-year, $5 million deal, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. That's not a guaranteed-starter level of commitment, but it points to Walker likely remaining in the 2022 lineup. His 2021 playing time dipped later in the year after 2nd-round pick Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah emerged as a starter. Walker looks like a LB4-level IDP option for 2022 fantasy football drafts.

The Browns are signing WR/returner Jakeem Grant to a 3-year deal worth up to $13.8 million, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. That seems like a lot of money for a guy to primarily just be counted on in the return game, but Grant's offensive skill set also seems to align with 2nd-year WR Anthony Schwartz. We're not betting on Grant proving fantasy relevant outside of return-yardage leagues this year.

ESPN's Dianna Russini reports that each of the teams meeting with QB Deshaun Watson -- the Saints, Panthers and Browns -- 1st had to present a trade package to Houston for approval. That indicates a Watson trade is merely waiting on the QB to select his destination. We'll be watching for the announcement. If you're drafting in the meantime, D.J. Moore, Michael Thomas and Amari Cooper -- along with later pass-catchers for each potential suitor -- are stackable with Watson on best-ball tournament entries.

The Patriots are trading EDGE Chase Winovich to the Browns for LB Mack Wilson. The move gives Winovich a fresh start in a scheme that should return DE eligibility for fantasy football leagues. Wilson's situation doesn't obviously improve, but he clearly wasn't heading for a primary role in Cleveland.

ESPN's Kimberley A. Martin reports that the Browns plan to meet with QB Deshaun Watson on Tuesday and pursue a potential trade. Watson has also already met with the Saints and Panthers, while Houston has declined the Colts' request to jump into the process. Should the Browns win out, QB Baker Mayfield would certainly make for a sensible trade piece. We'll see how the rest of this plays out.

The Cowboys traded WR Amari Cooper and a 6th-round pick to the Browns in exchange for 5th- and 6th-round picks. The compensation is minimal because Cleveland is taking on all of Cooper's $20 million cap hits over the next 3 seasons. The Cowboys were reportedly set to release Cooper if they couldn't find a trade partner. Dallas is believed to be the frontrunners to re-sign WRs Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson, who would join CeeDee Lamb as the team's top 3 WRs. In Cleveland, meanwhile, Cooper should establish himself as the #1 WR. Exactly how big a target share he garners will depend on whether the Browns bring back WR Jarvis Landry and/or add more to the WR room. But a run-first offense and questionable QB play puts a damper on Cooper's 2022 fantasy outlook.

A grand jury did not find enough evidence to criminally charge QB Deshaun Watson in relation to the sexual assault allegations levied against him. Watson is still facing civil suits, but this development would seemingly make it easier for teams to justify trading for him. "Expect his trade market to ramp up quickly," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweets. "Teams have been waiting. This clears the path for a deal by the start of the league year [on March 16]."

The Browns plan to tender restricted free agent RB D'Ernest Johnson at the "right of 1st refusal" level, according to multiple reports. That tells us the team wants to see what the market is for the 26-year-old RB and doesn't fear the prospect of losing him. We'll see what the market determines. Johnson, of course, delivered several big games with Nick Chubb and/or Kareem Hunt out last season. He has just 165 total touches through 4 pro seasons, though.

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