2013 Fantasy Football Week 13 Dark Horse Sleeper: Cleveland Browns D/ST

By Dustin Manko
Cleveland Browns
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe it is because they rank outside the top 10 in sacks (31), interceptions (eight), or points per game average (16.48), but I’m still surprised that the Cleveland Browns D/ST is owned in only 46 percent of Yahoo! leagues. They have some very underrated linebackers in D’Qwell Jackson, Craig Robertson and Jabaal Sheard. Their front is stout, evidenced by their sixth place ranking in run defense. They have one of the best shutdown corners in the league in Joe Haden.

This weekend, the Browns should finish as one of the top scoring D/ST’s in fantasy football as they host the Jacksonville Jaguars. Despite playing better of late, the Jaguars are still dead last in the NFL in total offense as well as rushing offense, and they are 22nd in passing offense.

Due to the suspension of Justin Blackmon, Cecil Shorts is now the number one receiver on their depth chart. He has been dealing with a groin injury and was limited in practice Wednesday. Number two receiver Mike Brown was also limited with a shoulder injury and third receiver Ace Sanders, despite showing improvement of late, is still not a reliable fantasy producer. Shorts is likely to be completely negated by Haden (to be fair I said the same thing last week about Antonio Brown) after getting torched last week, and defensive back Buster Skrine is capable of handling Brown and/or Sanders.

Don’t forget about the special teams either. Browns return man Travis Benjamin is sixth in the league in punt return yards and ninth in yards per punt return, along with having a kick return for 86 yards and a punt return for 79. Surprisingly, the Jaguars rank slightly above league average in kick return yardage allowed, but Benjamin remains a threat to score whenever he has the ball in the special teams.

This one doesn’t have to be too complex. The Jaguars are allowing the sixth most fantasy points per game to opposing D/ST’s. The Browns defense got lit up last week against a bottom third Pittsburgh Steelers offense and should be looking to rebound and exact some revenge this week. Normally I would throw a whole bunch of stats at you supporting my theory, but there is no need this time. Start the Browns D/ST this weekend against a banged up Jaguars squad.

As always, I welcome your comments. If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen. Just back it up with some facts and solid evidence. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.

Dustin Manko is an author at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DustinManko, ”Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

Read more from Dustin here.

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