Hoyer Out, Weeden In: What it Means for the Browns Offense

Will Brandon Weeden hurt the production of Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon?

Since Brian Hoyer’s emergence resulted in a two-game fantasy bonanza for Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon, his serious injury last night has caused many owners to fear their fantasy fortunes just went down in a heap as well. In going to Hoyer from Brandon Weeden, the Browns were suddenly an efficient offense capable of supporting multiple strong fantasy receiving outputs every week. How will Weeden's return to the huddle impact the offense going forward? Let's find out.

Hoyer vs Weeden

Hoyer targeted Gordon 19 times in his first game. Weeden targeted Gordon more than 10 times only once all of last season. Hoyer threw four touchdowns to Cameron in the last two weeks. Weeden doesn’t even average a touchdown per game over his 18-game career.

Let’s go inside the numbers for Hoyer and Weeden, and then take a look at how Cameron and Gordon will be affected.

Hoyer vs Weeden, Coming Into Week 5

NEP/PassRank (Min 50 Att)Success RateRank (Min 50 Att)

NEP/pass stands for net expected points per pass, which measures how much each pass increases or decreases a team's scoring potential. Hoyer is doing much better than Weeden in this metric, meaning he gives a Browns a greater chance to score. Success rate simply measures the percentage of passes that have a positive impact on a team's scoring potential. While both quarterbacks were below average, Weeden's rate is almost the worst in the league.

What this all means is that Weeden has been a less efficient quarterback than Hoyer, and is less likely to put his team in position to score points, which is bad for the entire offense fantasy-wise. While both quarterbacks average nearly the same yards per attempt (6.5), Hoyer's completion percentage is 59.4 percent while Weeden's is only 54.5 percent. Unless Weeden improves, this will result in less sustained drives for the Browns, and less receptions and touchdowns for their receivers.

It should be noted that Weeden fared slightly better in these metrics last season, with his NEP/pass clocking in at -0.04 and his success rate 42.20 percent. These numbers still don't match Hoyer's small sample from 2013, however. The big difference between Hoyer and Weeden is in the time it takes each to release the ball. Hoyer gets the ball out very quickly, while Weeden is indecisive and holds the ball too long, often leading to drive-killing sacks. But enough about two QB2's that aren't going to get much fantasy burn regardless. Let's take a look at what effect they have on Cameron and Gordon.

Jordan Cameron

Jordan Cameron, 2013TarTar % of QB AttsRecCatch RateYds/RecTD
With Hoyer2324.0%1669.6%9.84
With Weeden2421.8%1875.0%12.91

As you can see, Cameron has been able to catch a higher percentage of passes and rack up more yards per reception with Weeden at the helm. However, Weeden hasn't done nearly as well as Hoyer at finding Cameron in the end zone.

Weeden looked Cameron's way a couple of times on Thursday night, but the two couldn't connect. One jump ball in the end zone went just out of Cameron's reach, and looked like it could have been a touchdown if Weeden had made a better throw. It was also troubling to see offensive coordinator Norv Turner hand the ball to Willis McGahee three straight times inside the two with the game hanging in the balance, rather than let Weeden put it in the air.

We're working with a very small sample size here, so Weeden could conceivably improve and get Cameron the same kind of stats Hoyer did. Until we see that happen, I'd slightly downgrade Cameron. He's still firmly entrenched as a high-end TE1, but I wouldn't expect over-the-top elite numbers every week.

Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon, 2013TarTar % of QB AttsRecCatch RateYds/RecTD
With Hoyer2930.2%1450.0%15.51
With Weeden520.8%480.0%21.51

Hoyer seemed to be force-feeding Gordon the ball, targeting him on over 30 percent of his throws. While Weeden and Gordon were efficient on Thursday, we have a large sample from last year to analyze as well. In 2012, Weeden connected with Gordon just 52 percent of the time on 96 attempts, with only five touchdowns. As I mentioned earlier, Gordon only got more than 10 targets from Weeden once, and this was before Cameron's emergence.

Gordon certainly has the talent to put up top-tier receiver numbers, but with Weeden at quarterback, I'd downgrade him a bit as well. The numbers show that Gordon's targets may be more inconsistent than they were under Hoyer. Inconsistent targets can lead to inconsistent fantasy production, especially with a young, raw player like Gordon who dropped a long touchdown from Hoyer yesterday, and almost dropped another from Weeden in the end zone.