Johnny Manziel has become an extremely polarizing figure in the NFL community. He's loved by many and loathed by so many more. Personally I'm not a fan of Johnny Manziel, he just seems like the kind of guy I would hate to meet out in public. The kind of guy who just annoys the shit out of you.
I know many of you will disagree and thats fine. It's my personal opinion and quite frankly, I was thrilled when the Browns took him one pick ahead of the Chiefs in the 2014 NFL Draft. In fact, I would've been devastated if the Chiefs took him. I probably would've called out of work the next day.
Luckily my personal feelings on Johnny Football don't impact my feelings his potential fantasy value for 2014. In fact, I think (like many other fantasy football experts) he could be a huge value to many teams this year.
Let's explore the positive and negatives of Johnny Football and what he might do in fantasy for 2014.
The Fantasy Football Positives of Johnny Manziel for 2014
When you look back at his college production you see a guy who was extremely good in one of college football's toughest conferences. You could argue that he is improving as a passer as his numbers last season (4,114 yards and 37 touchdowns) were better than his Heisman winning season.
Here's to hoping that he continues to improve at the NFL level.
The Browns' offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, recently compared Manziel to RGIII. By now we all know how RGIII performed during his rookie season and last year. Now I'm not saying that Manziel is as good as RGIII or that Shanahan is the guy that made RGIII what he is, but you have to like the comparison.
At the very least it shows theres the potential for success in his rookie year, that is, if he can beat out Brian Hoyer for the starting job.
The Fantasy Football Negatives of Johnny Manziel for 2014
Brain Hoyer played well for the Browns least season before being lost to an ACL tear. In the two games that he started in 2013 he threw for 590 yards, 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Those are respectable enough numbers that Manziel shouldn't be named the de-facto starter. In fact, I think they're both going to battle it out in training camp.
Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if Hoyer is named the starter in Cleveland. I don't believe he'll remain the starter all season if he gets the nod, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him listed as number 1 on the depth chart.
You also have to take into account the style that Maziel plays. He stands a 6 ft. even and weighs approximately 210 pounds. He's not a bad height or weight for the position, however the way he plays the game (called borderline reckless by some) puts him at risk of serious injuries. These defenders are big boys, which means injury could literally be one hit away (a la Mike Vick).
The Browns receiving core is also pretty rough. They are rumored to lose Josh Gordon for the season because he can't stop smoking weed (although the suspension hasn't yet been confirmed). The Browns simply don't have great depth to withstand the loss of Gordon.
I expect Jordan Cameron to fill the void left by Gordon, only partially, as he is going to receive more defensive attention than when Gordon was on the field.
Determining the Fantasy Value of Johnny Manziel
With the loss of Gordon it's likely that Manziel will run and scramble more often than he would've with Gordon there. That means his fantasy value could hold steady because of his rushing stats.
Do I love Johnny Football for fantasy football in 2014? No. Do I think theres a chance he takes off and provides great production? Sure.
I think he's worth a late round flier, although if you truly believe in him I think you're going to have to invest a little more heavily. If he wins the starting job in Cleveland he is going to shoot up draft boards and there is going to be someone else in your league that wants him.
He should in no way be your QB1 heading into the 2014 fantasy football season. If you want to take a flier or make him your backup, you have my blessing. Make sure to create your own fantasy ranks and stick to them. There's nothing worse than panicking on draft day and making a pick you'll regret.
Currently I'll peg him as an 12th round pick. If you truly want him, make a move earlier.See Our Fantasy Player Profiles
For the record, I never actually played football. I have no doubt that I would get crushed running across the middle for a pass, every single time.
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