Browns already wheeling and dealing
It hasn't taken Mike Holmgren long to put his stamp on his new team's most important position. Fed up with the mediocrity that Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson have brought the Browns over the past two seasons, Holmgren has now jettisoned each of them. Anderson is still a free agent but is a contender to be a veteran backup brought in to challenge a shaky NFL starter. And Quinn is likely to be the new backup in Denver, where he was dealt Sunday in exchange for running back Peyton Hillis and a couple late-round draft picks. Also of note: The Browns signed Jake Delhomme this weekend, and likely have given him the inside track to be their starter under center for 2010.
Now, let's not get carried away here. None of the players I just mentioned are going to be must-draft, sure-fire starters in 10-team fantasy leagues heading into '10. Delhomme might be making northward of $19 million this season from the Panthers and Browns combined, but there's a reason Carolina ditched him: He was horrible in '09. His arm is fine, but his head seems to get unhinged at times, and he's leaving one of the league's most exciting playmakers, Steve Smith, for a receiving corps that is, to be kind, unproven. Plus, Holmgren also dealt for old favorite Seneca Wallace a week or so ago, and it's not hard to imagine a scenario in which Wallace does enough to beat out Delhomme, if "Jake the Quake" is shaky in camp and the preseason.
Similarly, Quinn isn't going to make fantasy headlines right away in Denver. Much-hyped because he showed up at the NFL draft in 2007 and then slipped all the way to No. 22, this guy has a career 52.1 percent completion rate and has thrown 10 touchdowns in 14 games. He doesn't have a terrible arm, and he's a big guy, but he's been way too conservative in his reads and throws in his brief career. In going to the Broncos, he'll play under head coach Josh McDaniels, who in New England learned at the foot of Quinn's former college coach, Charlie Weis. Kyle Orton is the unquestioned starter in Denver for '10, but he's also a restricted free agent this year who could very well be unrestricted next year.
For me, the most fantasy-relevant part of this trade involves, believe it or not, Peyton Hillis. I was never a Hillis guy; when some experts touted him as a sleeper for '09 after a few productive games in '08, I didn't buy it. Because the Broncos really didn't have another fullback, and because I didn't trust Josh McDaniels to use a discernable running back pattern (which, despite my high regard for Knowshon Moreno, scares me a bit about him for the '10 season, too). But the Browns already have a fullback: Lawrence Vickers. If the Browns wanted Hillis thrown into this deal, there's a possibility that it's because they don't plan on using a high draft pick on a back or signing one of the veteran stragglers. That would leave Jerome Harrison as the first running back option, but it's still hard to believe that he'll be a true No. 1; I think someone is going to jump in there as "No. 1A" and goal-line back behind what's at least a very good left side of the offensive line. Barring any other additions to the Browns' backfield, I'm ready to put Hillis back on the fantasy radar screen. That said, I moved him only to No. 80 on my running back list for the moment, because I'm not sold that the Browns won't get someone else. But if the season starts, and these are the guys they have, we'll have to move Hillis up further.
Christopher Harris is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writing Association award winner. You can ask him questions at www.facebook.com/writerboy.
2010 Fantasy Football Offseason
ESPN.comkeeps you connected to fantasy football all offseason long with updated rankings, mock drafts and analysis of all the important moves.
NFL Draft• Day 1: Ryan Mathews the big winner
• Day 2: Toby Gerhart now a handcuff
• Day 3: Rounds 4-7 can yield sleepers
• Matthew Berry's Top 150, updated June 4
• Christopher Harris' Top 200, updated May 11
• Fantasy Staff Top 200, updated April 30
• Christopher Harris' Top 200, updated April 19
• Matthew Berry's Top 100, April 8
Analysis from Christopher Harris
• Don't expect much from T.O. in Cincinnati
• Vincent Jackson no longer a top 25 receiver
• Jason Campbell is still bland in Oakland
• LenDale White, Leon Washington in Seattle
• Brandon Marshall deal to Miami boosts Henne
• Santonio Holmes' value falls with trade to Jets
• Donovan McNabb's stock drops with Redskins
• Willie Parker joins Redskins veteran RBBC
• Browns wheeling and dealing potential options
• LDT signing with Jets muddies Greene's value
• Larry Johnson still irrelevant with Redskins
• Derrick Mason's re-signing helps Flacco
• Antonio Bryant decent fit with Bengals
• Thomas Jones loses lots of value with Chiefs
• Reggie Brown intriguing with Tampa Bay
• Boldin trade doesn't do much for his value
• Taylor, Burleson open free-agency season
• NFL scouting combine fantasy review