When Brian Hoyer took over the Cleveland quarterback job, things seemed to go a little better for the Browns. Since he went down with injury, though, the Browns have had significantly less success and gone from "maybe they could even contend ... for a playoff spot" to "maybe they could even contend ... for the first overall draft pick."
It's become yet another awful Browns season, and it looks likely to continue Sunday, as questionable quarterback play and a tough opponent mean they are staring down the barrel of 4-9. The Browns face a New England Patriots team Sunday that still has its eyes on the AFC's top overall playoff seed. The game is at 1 p.m. ET Sunday in Foxboro, and there will be some interesting fantasy roles to consider as well:
Start in every league: Josh Gordon
Start if you're desperate: ...
This actually isn't hard. No matter who is starting at quarterback for the Browns, Gordon has made himself into a must-start. He's averaged almost 125 yards a game since his return from suspension and has been the most productive wide receiver in football on a per-game basis. You'd like to see a good quarterback throwing to him, but it hasn't mattered so far.
And that's pretty much it. No matter who starts at quarterback Sunday -- Weeden or Campbell if they are healthy, Tanney or Hanie otherwise -- there's no reason to even consider using any of the group in fantasy. ... McGahee had an improved showing Sunday, and has clearly relegated Ogbonnaya to forgotten status, but he's still really hard to rely on. ... As good as Gordon has been, Bess and Little have struggled to even be relevant. ... Cameron has nine fantasy points in his last four games, and has only one touchdown since Week 4. ... Cundiff has only scored double-digit fantasy points once all season. ... The Browns' defense had decent performance earlier in the season, but has struggled mightily of late, and faces a strong New England offense Sunday.
The early-season struggles Brady had seem to be behind him; he has 13 or more points in four straight, with 20-plus in three of those. He has 10 touchdowns against only two interceptions in his last four, with at least 296 yards in all of them. He's back to a top-tier quarterback. ... Gronkowski had only two fantasy points in Week 8, but otherwise has scored at least 11 points in every game he's played this season, and has scored touchdowns in four straight. ... No kickers have outscored Gostkowski on the season, and he has at least 10 points nine times in 12 games. ... The Patriots' defense is a questionable start in a neutral matchup, but against the Campbell/Weeden/Tanney/Hanie Browns, it's a no-doubt start as a unit.
It's been the weekly chorus, but if Vereen, Amendola or Edelman were the sole guy at their positions, they'd be an obvious start; as one of a billionteen guys in New England, it's tough to imagine guaranteed production. They're easily startable, but you can't pretend a zero- or one-point game isn't possible.
The same holds true for Bolden, Blount, Ridley, Thompkins and Dobson (and, frankly, for the newly re-signed Austin Collie), except that their respective ceilings aren't as high as the Vereen/Amendola/Edelman group.