Commentary

Browns already wheeling and dealing

Updated: March 15, 2010, 1:30 PM ET
By Christopher Harris | ESPN.com

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.

Delhomme
Al Pereira/Getty ImagesJake Delhomme is the favorite to start at quarterback in Cleveland, not that it matters much to us.

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.