The battle to be the Cleveland Browns’ starting quarterback has been worth the attention of fantasy football owners for the first time in memory this year, and all speculation has been put aside (for now) with Brian Hoyer being named the starter for Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That means Johnny Manziel will start the season on the bench, but if Hoyer struggles Browns’ fans will surely start clamoring for the highly visible rookie to see action.
The season opener on the road against the Steelers starts a tough early season slate for Cleveland, with home games against the New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens coming after that leading into a Week 4 bye. An 0-3 start may change how the coaching staff views the season, and Hoyer’s status going forward, so if Manziel doesn’t sulk about not opening the season as the starter a change could be made during what can be called a well-timed bye week.
The Browns’ schedule gets easier in Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans, followed by a home rematch with the Steelers and two favorable-looking matchups in Week 7 (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Week 8 (Oakland Raiders). Whoever is under center for the Browns could be a viable option for fantasy owners for longer than you might expect, even with the likelihood wide receiver Josh Gordon is suspended for a chunk of the season.
Hoyer may play well enough to keep the starting job, and if so he could maintain a roster spot along with sneaky value in fantasy leagues all season. But I don’t think his being named the Week 1 starter is a death knell for Manziel’s fantasy value, and I’m still buying into “Johnny Football” as a fantasy sleeper this year until further notice.