2018 Fantasy Football: Should I Draft Baker Mayfield?

He was the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, so players are obviously wondering if they should draft rookie Baker Mayfield in the 2018 Fantasy Football season.

Right now, the answer would seem to be no because Tyrod Taylor is listed as the starter.

But if Taylor falters, the Cleveland Browns won’t hesitate to put Mayfield into the lineup.

Will owning the rookie give you an edge in your 2018 Fantasy Football league?

Let’s take a look…

Tyrod Taylor Vs. Baker Mayfield

Taylor is a free agent in 2019, so he’s only there to keep the starting quarterback seat warm until Mayfield is ready.

But he’s at least going to lead the offense to open the season.

With the Buffalo Bills in 2017, the 28-year old quarterback only threw for 2,799 yards (25th in the league).

However, his real value is in his dual-threat abilities. Last year, he rushed for 427 yards and scored four rushing touchdowns.

He finished 2017 with a total of 18 touchdowns and four interceptions.

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Taylor can keep Cleveland competitive, but he needs to increase his touchdown production if he wants to hold on to the starting job. He can either do that by throwing more touchdowns (his career high is 20), or he could score more rushing touchdowns.

He’s unlikely to do either, which will help Mayfield win the starting job.

It’s impossible to know exactly when that will happen, but I’d expect to see the rookie start by Week 6 at the latest if Taylor struggles.

But what that means is you may only be able to start Mayfield for 68% of the season if he starts in Week 6 (Cleveland has a bye in Week 11). He’s going to go through his bumps and bruises just like any rookie quarterback, so he might not even be worth starting in Fantasy Football until you are well into the playoffs.

Just something to keep in mind.

Baker Mayfield’s Weapons for the 2018 Fantasy Football Season

Cleveland has two great weapons for their quarterbacks with Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry.

Gordon only appeared in five games last year, but despite poor quarterback play and being out of the league since the 2014 season, the 27-year old receiver finished just outside the top 20 in points in PPR leagues from Weeks 13-17.

He still has to stay out of trouble, but as long as he’s on the field, he’s an athletic freak.

In Weeks 13-14, he averaged 22.15 yards per catch. In Week 17, he averaged 28.8 yards per catch.

Landry signed to the Browns on March 8, and he will serve as a solid safety blanket for any of his quarterbacks. The 25-year old receiver has caught 111 or more passes in two out of the last three seasons, and he averaged seven receptions per game in 2017.

The brass still needs to see what it has in Corey Coleman, a first-round pick from the 2016 NFL Draft. He was compared to John Brown in his draft profile because of his blazing speed, but he’s only appeared in 19 games in the past two seasons because of injuries.

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The Browns will also need to see what they can get out of sophomore tight end David Njoku, and the team also selected Damion Ratley and Antonio Callaway in the draft this year. Jeff Janis, Rashard Higgins, and Ricardo Louis are also currently on the roster.

Some of these guys will be cut or make little to no impact, but that’s a good thing to have all those different receivers to choose from. The cream will rise to the top, and the Browns won’t just have to rely on a warm body to catch the ball.

On top of that, Mayfield also has an excellent pass-catching back to target in Duke Johnson.

Johnson was the top receiver in Cleveland last year, posting a 74-693-3 stat line.

The talent is there to help any young quarterback develop.

But the opposing teams are going to make sure it’s not a smooth transition from college to the NFL for Mayfield…

2018 Fantasy Strength of Schedule for Baker Mayfield

According to FantasyPros, Mayfield has one of the toughest schedules in the league for 2018.

Out of 32 teams, he has the 24th-hardest Fantasy schedule.

Now, I wouldn’t solely base whether to draft Mayfield on his strength of schedule. He will have a lot of tough games, but he can still perform at a high level for his Fantasy owners.

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However, if you own the rookie, you’d still want him to face easier opponents.

He already has to deal with transitioning to the NFL, and squaring off against the defenses for the Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens, and Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Bottom Line on Drafting Baker Mayfield 

In a season-long league, there’s no reason to draft Mayfield, even if you can draft him after Round 10.

Taylor is going to open the season as the starter, and he could keep the job if he plays well enough.

He has the talent around him to have a successful rookie campaign, but I would rather see him start in Week 1 and get his feet wet early than jump in halfway through the season.

I’m also worried about how tough the schedule is for the quarterbacks in Cleveland this year.

Instead of drafting Mayfield, I would rather roll the dice on Patrick Mahomes in Round 11. The Chiefs are so confident in his ability that they were willing to release Alex Smith, a quarterback who won helped Kansas City fight for a playoff spot each year since 2013.

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