In what was probably the most talked about quarterback battle since Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow in 2012, Brian Hoyer has managed to hold off first-round rookie Johnny Manziel and beat him out to take the Browns’ starting quarterback role in Week 1.
Cleveland’s head coach Mike Pettine commented on the matter: “He [Brian Hoyer] was the clear leader from the beginning. We’ve maintained all along that if it was close, I would prefer to go with the more experienced player. Brian has done a great job in the meeting rooms and with his teammates on the practice field and in the locker room.”
If leadership was one of the key elements of Pettine’s decision, then ‘Johnny Football’ will have done himself no favours in Monday night’s 24-23 loss to Washington, when he gestured his middle finger toward the Redskins bench.
It certainly wasn’t a statistics-based call, as Manziel has more passing yards, touchdowns, rushing yards, and a higher quarterback rating than his counterpart through the first two games of the preseason – although it should be noted that Hoyer attempted seven less passes than Manziel, and is yet to have a rushing attempt.
Not only does the decision affect the Browns, but it also has an impact from a fantasy football perspective. The quarterback position this year is so deep, that Hoyer probably won’t be taken in most standard redrafts, but Manziel’s fantasy stock has been faring a little better. According to FantasyPros.com, Manziel has an average draft position (ADP) amongst quarterbacks 11 places higher than Hoyer. Overall, Hoyer’s ADP sees him missing the cut in standard 10, 12 and 14-team leagues, meaning that he will currently be available on waivers for any teams wanting to pick him up.
Hoyer is a backup fantasy football quarterback at best, and that probably only goes for two-quarterback leagues. But the fact that he may not even have the starting job by the time the starting fantasy QB has a bye week doesn’t bode well for his value and suggests that he should only be drafted in the deepest of leagues, if at all.
Although Johnny Football won’t be starting Week 1 – or at least that’s how it appears for now – his upside appears to be much greater than Hoyer’s. The veteran quarterback will probably be reliant on the Browns’ running game, and projects to hand the ball off to Ben Tate and Terrance West a lot. Manziel will probably have the running game as a cushion should he get a first-team opportunity, but the difference between Manziel and Hoyer is that the rookie can scramble and integrate himself into the running game. Hoyer is less mobile, and doesn’t really pose the same threat. With the Cleveland Browns being a run-first team, it isn’t likely that Brian Hoyer will be utilised in a fashion that will allow him to score many fantasy points.
Even though Manziel has a more diverse skill set, he should really be passed on in redraft leagues. It is unlikely that he’ll see enough time as a starter to make a fantasy impact this year, and if Josh Gordon gets a season-long suspension, then his receiving corps becomes diluted. Manziel is someone who should be taken in keeper leagues and dynasty though, because once he’s had a year to acclimatise to the NFL and hopefully, for Cleveland, has Josh Gordon back, Manziel’s stock will grow.
If you’re yet to draft, Hoyer will probably still be on the board when you enter the final round for your draft. Manziel’s ADP may drop slightly between now and the beginning of the regular season, but due to his popularity and potential, it wouldn’t be a surprise to still see him being taken as a late-round selection.