Nick Shook on fantasy football: It might be a wild ride but jump on the Johnny Football bandwagon

By Nick Shook
Beacon Journal copy editor
Read full column on Ohio.com

In Denver, a living legend is headed for the bench for the time being to get healthy.

In Cleveland, a forgettable quarterback (but seemingly nice guy) might be taking a similar seat on the sideline for good.

One is Peyton Manning. The other is Josh McCown. The more exciting understudy of the two is, surprisingly, on the roster of the Browns. And you already know who he is.

As the Browns enter their bye week, we might be on the cusp of the true, official era of Johnny Football. While you all get your popcorn ready, you should also get your fantasy rosters prepared.

Add

Johnny Manziel, quarterback, Cleveland Browns (owned in 4.4 percent of ESPN leagues)

Before I go any further, please allow me to admit my stance on Mr. Jonathan Football in the past three years.

I have been one of the biggest of what the kids these days call “haters” of Manziel since he entered his redshirt sophomore season at Texas A&M. He’s an electrifying player, but I just didn’t see how his style of play translated to the pro game, not to mention the annoyance of his off-field antics.

Jump from 2013 to 2015, and you can consider me converted. I believe in Johnny Football.

More importantly, I believe in the sliver of hope that he brings to the Browns’ future, because, let’s face it — Josh McCown is restricted by his age. Plus, I don’t truly believe he wants to trot back out on the field to get battered mercilessly for four quarters a week in the last six weeks of the season. This gives a chance to Manziel, who showed in Sunday’s 30-9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers that he is in fact improving, by sizable margins (33-of-45 passing, 372 yards, one touchdown, one interception).

Those numbers aren’t pedestrian. If you add Manziel now, you’ll have a solid backup option going into the stretch run of the fantasy season.

Dorial Green-Beckham, wide receiver, Tennessee Titans (owned in 19.5 percent of ESPN leagues)

He isn’t one that immediately jumps off the page at you statistically, but DGB is about to see plenty more targets in the coming weeks. Justin Hunter was lost for the season to injury, opening the door wide open for the freakishly athletic rookie.

Marcus Mariota has connected with him on occasion in earlier weeks of the season, and with the loss of one of Mariota’s go-to receivers, Green-Beckham becomes all that more important. The Titans might be — OK, definitely are a bad football team, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of completing some passes and putting some points on the scoreboard. With the running back situation in pathetic flux (as in, the Titans can’t decide on which underwhelming back is their guy), expect a bit more focus on the passing game, including DGB.

Tony Romo, quarterback, Dallas Cowboys (owned in 47.3 percent of ESPN leagues)

Earlier in the season, fantasy owners avoided Arian Foster like the plague because of a preseason groin injury. He was eventually cut in one of my leagues, so I snagged him with an eye toward the future, which paid off when he returned a few weeks earlier than expected. The same thing happened when an owner got impatient with LeSean McCoy. I had two beautiful weeks during which I started Foster and McCoy in the same backfield. Then Foster got hurt, and I returned back to earth.

I tell this tale because I’m keeping my fingers crossed that you had the foresight to pick up Romo if he were available. Looking at that number above, he was a free agent in a ton of leagues. Yes, the Cowboys are 0-7 without Romo, but that shows just how valuable (and good) he is.

Pairing Romo with Dez Bryant is a dangerous combo. The Cowboys might be toast for the 2015 season, but there is still value on their roster in players like Romo, Bryant, and Jason Witten.

Drop

Julian Edelman, wide receiver, New England Patriots

This turn of events for Edelman saddens me, because as a Kent State alumnus, we like to hang our athletic hats on guys like Edelman, Josh Cribbs (back in his kick-returning heyday) and Antonio Gates. It saddens us when one of them suffer an injury or see his career come to an end.

I’m sure Tom Brady is a tad down after seeing his favorite receiver exit with a serious foot injury.

I should probably add Danny Amendola to the add section because of this, but then again, it’s Danny Amendola.

Get well soon, Minitron.

Peyton Manning, quarterback, Denver Broncos

You saw what happened Sunday, right? Healthy or not, Manning is staring the twilight of his career in the face. It might even be passing him right now. He looks like he’s throwing passes with a garden hose for an arm.

I advised this weeks ago, but with the news that he’ll be sitting on Sunday and Brock Osweiler will replace him, that’s pretty much the kiss of death for his value to your team. Remember, fantasy season championships are usually in Weeks 16 and 17. We’re entering Week 11. If you have Manning, chances are you’re on the edge of contention at best. It’s been real, Peyton.

Dump him for Manziel while you can.

Follow Nick Shook on Twitter @TheNickShook or contact him at nshook@thebeaconjournal.com.

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