Johnny Manziel 2014 Fantasy Outlook
A lot is being made about Johnny Manziel off the football field, while not many people seem to be choosing to focus on his potential on it. The Cleveland Browns continue to stand by Brian Hoyer as their starting quarterback, saying that Manziel has a ways to go to claim the starting job going into week one of the 2014 NFL season.
It’s all part of the plan.
Sure, the Browns want to give the illusion of true competition. Owner Jimmy Haslam even has told Manziel to “tone it down” in the media. Ultimately, talent should prevail.
That’s the hope fantasy football owners have, at least, since Manziel’s elite athleticism and unorthodox playing style offer a lot of optimism for the fantasy scene.
Some fantasy experts have taken strong stances on Manziel being a fantasy bust as a rookie (or overall), but as long as he starts, the logic might point to a better than expected rookie season.
It’s true that Manziel may have to roll through his first NFL year without stud wide receiver Josh Gordon, but Manziel should still be assisted by a solid offensive line, a strong and deep stable of running backs and a star tight end in Jordan Cameron.
Cameron should continue to give Manziel that big, athletic target he’s grown accustomed to from his two seasons at Texas A&M. Cameron broke out a year ago and should have plenty of incentive to be just as good, if not better, as he enters 2013 in a contract year.
With Cameron, Manziel should have at least one quality go-to target, while he could also make good use of aging veterans Nate Burleson and Miles Austin, as well as shifty slot man, Andrew Hawkins.
While his weapons certainly aren’t elite from an overall perspective, Manziel’s ability to create magic on the go and his decent cast of weapons give him a shot at doing some damage as a rook.
His offensive system gives him an even better chance.
After all, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has experience finding success with dual threat runners, after turning Robert Griffin III into a rookie stud with the Washington Redskins two years ago. Provided he does the same in Cleveland, Manziel could be a versatile fantasy weapon thanks to read option packages and designed runs being incorporated into the offense.
Overall, there is clearly risk with Manziel, but there is also a good amount of upside and reward. Consider him a QB2 in fantasy drafts for now, but don’t be shocked if drafting him later in drafts pays off in a big way.
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