Spotlight - RB Lee Suggs, Cleveland Browns
Posted 8/25 by Jason Wood and Maurile Tremblay,
Exclusive to Footballguys.com
Jason Wood's Thoughts
Browns GM Phil Savage and HC Romeo Crennel are smart, accomplished NFL minds and if I were a betting man, I believe they will build a playoff contender in Cleveland before all is said and done. But this team is more than a one-year fix. A LOT more.
The Browns first had to purge themselves of bad contracts and malcontents. As a result, they're undermanned at nearly every position this year. Trent Dilfer, a solid veteran presence, is hardly a compelling option as a full-time starter. His backups are unproven. TE Kellen Winslow is out. Braylon Edwards, while talented, is a rookie. Ross Verba, their best tackle (but a malcontent) has been sent packing. While OGs Coleman and Andruzzi are capable, they're not the kind of guys who will turn that line into an asset. The defense has been gutted (again, a long-term positive but not too helpful for the team's 2005 outlook). If Cleveland wins more than 4 games again this year, it will be a minor miracle.
What does this have to do with Lee Suggs? Well, I think it has a lot to do with him. Suggs has been productive enough in short spans to tease people into thinking he's a healthy season away from being a stud. Yet, from what I've seen of him, he's a relatively limited back. He can be a plodder who moves the chains and gets the job done at the goal line (remember, he was a touchdown machine at Virginia Tech)...but I don't think he's got the lateral quickness or vision or receiving skills or durability to be productive WITHOUT a solid supporting cast. Put him with a passing offense that keeps defenses honest, and give him a solid O-line to run behind and Suggs can be a productive player. But put him in Cleveland in 2005 and I think the best you can hope for is the occasional solid game sandwiched between some forgettable performances.
Let's also not forget that the Browns acquired veteran Reuben Droughns from Denver this offseason. HC Crennel has admitted a willingness to utilize both backs interchangeably. Although Droughns was productive last year, I don't see him as a major threat to Suggs IF Lee stays healthy. Droughns' production came in the Broncos system that makes every tailback look great. Again, Droughns is the kind of back who can do well in ideal circumstances, but can he get yards on his own? I just don't see it.
And then there's William Green. Everyone thought Green would be part of the purging. After all, he was a favorite of former HC Butch Davis, and has been disappointing on the field and suffered a variety of off-the-field issues. Yet, somehow, some way, Green put together a fine offseason and seems to have earned his place at the table. With Suggs injury prone and Droughns potentially a byproduct of the Denver system, it really wouldn't be that startling to see Green get his fair share of carries either.
- Suggs finished on a high note last year, with 100+ yards in each of his last three games
- I don't believe Reuben Droughns is as talented as Suggs, and thus believe Suggs will see the majority of the carries
- Despite his 3 TDs a year ago, Suggs was a stellar goal line back at VaTech, he just needs to opportunity
What you have to ask yourself is, how many games will Suggs play and will he be productive enough to utilize as my 3rd RB and utility option at times? I think he can, but wouldn't overpay to roster him in case I'm wrong.
Maurile Tremblay's Thoughts
For the second year in a row, Suggs finished his previous season on a high note and enters training camp full of optimism. As a rookie in 2003, Suggs got little playing time until the final game of the season when he was given the featured role. He responded by rushing 26 times for 186 yards and two touchdowns against the Bengals. Injuries prevented him from carrying that momentum into the 2004 season, as he sat out the first three games with a neck stinger, and then sat out three games later in the season with turf toe. But again he finished up strong, rushing for over 100 yards in each of the last three games.
Despite Suggs’ strong finish last year, the Browns traded for Reuben Droughns this past offseason, who rushed for 1,240 yards with the Broncos last year. After Droughns held out during the May and June mini-camps, Suggs entered training camp as the starter and is still running with the Browns’ first team.
There’s no question that Droughns, when healthy, is a versatile and talented back capable of making big plays with the ball in his hands. The questions he faces, however, are to what extent the Browns’ offensive system and offensive line will be conducive to an RB’s fantasy success, and to what extent Droughns will eat into Suggs’ touches as a possible RBBC partner.
- Has the vision, quickness, and speed of a breakaway back.
- The Browns’ offensive line should be improved this year, as they added Joe Andruzzi and Cosey Coleman at guard.
- Is currently listed as the starter over Ruben Droughns.
- Romeo Crennel has indicated that he plans to use both Suggs and Droughns extensively no matter which is named the official starter.
- Durability is a concern: Suggs missed playing time in each of his first two seasons due to a variety of injuries.
- The Browns’ will probably not have a high-powered offense that will present its running backs with constant scoring opportunities.
Because he is not even the clear-cut featured RB on the Cleveland Browns, Suggs should not be looked at as a fantasy starter, either. He is a passable RB3 option and an excellent RB4 option since, as long as he’s healthy, he will contribute every week and he has the potential to enjoy a breakout season. But he also carries substantial risks that preclude spending an early-round draft choice on him. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy for more than a few weeks at a time, and there’s a danger that Ruben Droughns could end up taking over the starting role if he’s given the chance, like he did in Denver last year. The bottom line is that RBBC candidates in poor offenses are not the kinds of players you want to build your fantasy team around; but Suggs does have value because of his upside potential if things break right for him.
Quotations from the Message Board Thread
To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there),
A reasonable projection for Suggs, with Droughns in the picture would be 1000 total yards and 4-5 total TDs. Have the Browns upgraded the line? NO. Will Dilfer take the heat off of the running game? NO.
While the Browns added some pieces to the OL, they lost starting LT Ross Verba as well. I see no reason to be optimistic about the running game. And who will get the majority of the carries? To me Reuben Droughns appears to be the guy out of the gate, but of course that can change after a few losses.
RBBC written all over this situation. I like Suggs as a player much more than I like Droughns and he will win that job flat out at some point. the question is if his health will allow him to keep it
Lee Suggs Projections
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