Fantasy Football: Kenny Britt Is the Wide Receiver to Target on the Cleveland Browns
The 2016 season didn't go well at all for the Cleveland Browns.
As if finishing with a 1-15 record wasn't already bad enough, they did it with an offense that ranked 31st in scoring. But despite what looks like an unattractive situation, fantasy production can still be found. Even within one of the league's worst offenses, Terrelle Pryor finished last season with 1,007 yards receiving. And now that he's out of the picture, all eyes will turn to Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman.
Both of these receivers have an average draft position (ADP) rather close to one another (Coleman at 10.08 and Britt at 11.05 in standard 12-team leagues) according to Fantasy Football Calculator. Since their ADP is so similar, fantasy football players may very well be forced to decide between Britt and Coleman on draft day.
With that being said, which one is the preferred option to own in Cleveland's passing game?
Britt's Sneaky Ascendance
When using Net Expected Points (NEP), there is a clear divide between Britt and Coleman. NEP uses historical down-and-distance data to determine what is expected of a player on each individual play. Positive NEP is earned when they perform above expectation, and vice versa. You can learn more about NEP by checking out our glossary.
When we compare Britt and Coleman based on Reception NEP per target and Success Rate -- the percentage of plays that contributed to a positive NEP -- Britt has the clear upper hand.
|Year||Full Name||Reception NEP per target||Success Rate|
The average Reception NEP per target last season for wide receivers was 0.66. And while Coleman was well below the average, Pryor finished with a mark of 0.68, easily outperforming his fellow pass-catcher in the same offense. Britt's Reception NEP per target was above average, but it's also worth noting that he did it in the only offense that was worse the Browns last year -- the Los Angeles Rams.
We see more of the same story upon breaking down the Success Rate numbers. The league average in 2016 was 83.91%, which was another number Coleman failed to reach, while Pryor once again surpassed it (85.71%). As the above table shows, Britt also landed on the right side of the league average.
Together, these metrics show that Britt possesses the rare talent to transcend poor offensive play, while Coleman failed to exhibit this trait during his rookie campaign, which was also shortened by injury.
Offensive Situation Change
Before ordaining Britt the chosen one in Cleveland's offense, it should be noted that all targets are not created equal. Therefore, taking a look at quarterback play should provide some context into how each receiver performs.
In 2016, Coleman saw targets from Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown, and Cody Kessler, while Britt worked with Case Keenum and Jared Goff. According to Passing NEP per drop back and Success Rate (the percentage of pass plays contributing to a positive NEP), Britt had to deal with much worse quarterback play than Coleman.
As a point of reference, the league average for Passing NEP per drop back last season was 0.12, while the average Success Rate was 47.02%.
|Quarterback||Passing NEP per Drop Back||Success Rate|
|Robert Griffin III||-0.07||36.09%|
Obviously, Goff and Keenum fell way below both marks, but Kessler -- who played significantly down the stretch -- actually performed slightly above average in Passing NEP per drop back, and was the only signal-caller to come close to the league-average Success Rate.
So, we can see that quarterback play is not what caused Britt to outperform Coleman in the key numberFire metrics discussed earlier.
A majority of Kessler's passes from last season came in the short game, evidenced by the fact that he finished 26th in air yards per attempt. Once again, this gives an advantage to Britt and his skillset -- he excelled on short passes in 2016, and dominated the crossing route by racking up 224 yards, 2 touchdowns and a perfect wide receiver rating of 158.
This seems to be a recipe for success this season.
Cody Kessler led all QBs in passer rating on crossing routes last season.
Kenny Britt had a perfect WR rating on crossing routes last year.
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) May 31, 2017
It should be very obvious why the Browns were interested in bringing Britt aboard via free agency this past offseason.
Likely having to choose between two Cleveland receivers later on in drafts, Britt needs to be the clear choice. Not only did he perform spectacularly in 2016 despite quarterback play that was downright dreadful, but the area on the football field where he excels the most also seems to jive with his new signal-caller.
Coleman does have an opportunity for growth in his sophomore season after being a first-round pick in 2016, but Britt is the option that appears to be safer when considering his floor for fantasy production.