Throughout his seven seasons leading up to 2016, Kenny Britt flashed many times before finally enjoying a career year during the Rams’ first season in Los Angeles. Many fantasy owners had given up on him reaching his potential.
Luckily for Britt, he saved his best for a contract year. The Cleveland Browns sought to replace Terrelle Pryor in free agency after it became clear he would not return, which led to Britt joining the rebuilding franchise.
Early in the soon-to-be 29-year-old Britt’s career he was merely a deep threat; being used in such a role diminished his target volume. He rarely was viewed as a team’s top target in the pecking order. In 2015, Britt continued to exemplify this role with an 18.9 yards-per-reception average on just 36 catches.
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Last year, largely by virtue of a dearth of talent around him, Britt became the No. 1 receiver in LA. Without coincidence, his receiving average dipped to 14.7 (still healthy) as his reception total spiked to a career-high 68 grabs on his way to a personal-best 1,002 yards.
Britt has hauled in 54.6 percent of his career targets. For perspective, among the 41 receivers with at least 100 targets in 2017, 54.6 percent, incidentally, would have matched Pryor as the 36th most efficient receiver. Britt hasn’t exactly played with stud quarterbacks in his career, and 2016 was his second most efficient season.
Britt was targeted 7.4 times per game by the Rams, whereas Cleveland looked at Pryor an average of 8.8 passing attempts each week. The Browns have a slew of youngsters trying to emerge. It stands to reason Britt’s target volume will be much less than Pryor’s as other wide receivers mature. Only one additional Browns receiver (Andrew Hawkins) played 16 games, and he’s no longer with the team. After Pryor, Corey Coleman averaged 7.3 targets in 10 contests. Rookie Ricardo Louis was looked to an average of 4.5 times.
Cleveland boasts a stronger offensive line and an up-and-coming coaching staff. Head coach Hue Jackson appears to be on the verge of making Cleveland competitive again. He is widely lauded for his work with quarterbacks.
Last year showed Britt can be “quarterback proof” and even thrive in fantasy. Cleveland’s quarterback situation really can’t be worse than what he encountered with the ’16 Rams, so gamers can chalk it up as a wash (arguably it’s a slight upgrade). The current feeling is Cody Kessler probably will be the guy, at least early in the year, but recent chatter has Brock Osweiler impressing and being in the conversation. Rookie DeShone Kizer may factor in during the season.
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The surrounding cast looking to compete for touches is features a pair of first-round choices in second-year wideout Corey Coleman and rookie tight end David Njoku. Coleman is a much bigger threat to Britt’s volume than Njoku. The same probably can be said for running back Duke Johnson out of the backfield. A pair of rookies in 2016, Rashard Higgins and the aforementioned Louis, will compete for the scraps.
In 2016, Coleman missed six games because of a broken hand suffered three days after a breakout Week 2 performance (5-104-2). A few weeks after Britt joined the Browns, coach Jackson called Coleman a “No. 1 receiver” for Cleveland’s passing attack. More of a deep threat than a classic WR1 mold, Coleman likely relegates Britt into a glorified possession receiver, much like how he was utilized last season with the Rams.
Fantasy football takeaway
The quarterback situation, along with a system reasonably committed to the ground game, and improved defensive personnel, will conspire against Britt having a bigger year than last season. That is not saying he cannot be nearly as good.
Consider Britt in the WR3 conversation and be willing to accept inconsistency as well as a storied history of injuries. He’s likely to offer more to point-per-reception players than counterparts in standard scoring. Safely, he is a fourth receiver and is going with a late 10th-round pick, on average.