Last year we saw a stacked WR draft class atop the board which featured guys like: Amari Cooper, Kevin White and DeVante Parker. While White didn’t see a single snap all season, Cooper emerged as one of the best fantasy WRs whereas Parker saw a late surge which gives him momentum heading into this season. As we’ve seen it in recent years, WRs who go in the 1st round of the NFL Draft typically produce from the get-go.
Cooper was the ring leader last season as he eclipsed 1,000 yards with 6 TDs, made the Pro Bowl and led all rookie WRs in fantasy points. Cooper was selected with the 4th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. In this past year’s draft we had to wait until the 15th pick for the first WR to go off the board, and that was none other than Baylor’s Corey Coleman.
In a shocking turn of events, the Browns traded down from 2 to 8 in a blockbuster deal with the Philadelphia Eagles just days before the draft. This gave Sash Brown and the Browns a host of picks as they attempt yet another overhaul of the roster. As if that wasn’t enough, on draft day Brown traded down yet again, this time another seven spots to 15 where he accumulated even more ‘valuable’ picks. When Cleveland went on the clock in the middle of the 1st round, Corey Coleman was the player they selected to kick off their loaded 2016 NFL Draft.
Coming out of Baylor, Coleman is coming off one the most productive seasons in all of the FBS last season. Coleman terrorized opposing defenses and dominated the Big 12. His 20 TD receptions led the FBS, he also racked up an impressive 1,363 receiving yards and over 18 yards per catch. Coleman stood around in the Heisman watch for a bit, albeit an injured Seth Russell and Jarrett Stidham for a good stretch of the year.
The signing of Robert Griffin III stole the Cleveland headlines in the Spring. Assuming he ‘wins’ the starting QB job this Summer, he and Coleman could prove to be a good match – both of whom played at Baylor. While RGIII didn’t appear in a single game last season during Kirk Cousins’ breakout, he still offers a high ceiling for the Browns on offense. After a year off, he’s healthier than ever; and while we saw regression in 2013 and 2014, he has nothing else to lose, and a lot to gain in 2016. Coleman could be the weapon that provides that boost for RG3 this season.
Back to Coleman, he will immediately be the top weapon on Cleveland’s offense. For an offense that ranked 30th in points last season, he will bring that playmaking ability and pizazz which they lacked in 2015. While they lost Travis Benjamin in free agency, they made up for it with five drafted WRs. (not a typo) I’m not quite sure what to make of the whopping 5 WRs drafted by Sashi Brown. While, Coleman will clearly get the bulk of targets on offense – the loaded WR corps behind him will demand looks as well.
At first I wasn’t a fan of Coleman in the fantasy scene based on the players around him. Aside from him Cleveland’s offense is bland. However, Gary Barnridge provides a solid receiving threat at TE – very underrated at the position and another solid fantasy play. Brian Hartline is a reliable veteran WR and the other rookie WRs will contribute in spurts. As for the running game, Crowell and Johnson are both decent young guys in the backfield, but nothing special. RGIII should add a spark there with his speed.
Coleman was known for his playmaking ability in college, but how does that translate in the NFL? He is a vertical threat, and can make big plays on screens and underneath routes. RGIII has manageable arm strength and should be able to develop chemistry with Coleman. If not, CC brings versatility with his speed and ability with the ball in his hands to make big plays out of nothing. His versatility will be very valuable not only for the Browns, but for fantasy players as well. He looks like a safe fantasy play to me with high upside.
Most fantasy experts have Coleman going in the 40-50 range which I can attest to. At the end of the day, he’s still a rookie and not a sure thing by any means; but his skillset definitely should translate in the NFL, he’s a straight up playmaker. With the rest of the WR corps considered, I’ll project a final stat-line along the lines of 700 receiving yards with 5 TDs or so. He won’t produce off the bat like an Amari Cooper, but he’ll have some big games in 2016. Consistency will be a downfall, but his week-to-week upside is very valuable.