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The Cleveland Browns have consistently been the laughing stock of the NFL for far too long.  So what does the new front office do in response to their horrid offense over the last few years?  They draft four wide receivers and another WR/TE hybrid just to be safe.  The problem with this flurry of fresh faces for fantasy football (I know that’s a lot of f-words, here’s one more) is figuring out which, if any, of these WRs will be relevant.  The most obvious name that comes to mind is former Baylor WR, Corey Coleman, taken 15th overall this year.  However, the Browns will eventually have to throw to more than just Corey Coleman & Gary Barnidge.  Enter former Auburn WR, Ricardo Louis.

The second wide receiver taken by the Browns in this year’s NFL Draft, Ricardo Louis was drafted far before many experts & analysts thought he would be.  It was said by one anonymous NFL scout, “I don’t see anything draftable about him.”  Yet, he was the 12th receiver off the board this year with the 16th pick of the 4th round.

What did the Browns see in Ricardo Louis that others didn’t?  Let’s just take a few guesses.

Ricardo Louis played for a Gus Malzahn Auburn team where no wide receiver had more than 46 receptions in a single season over the past three years.  Louis, not Sammie Coates (now with the Steelers), was the wide receiver who set the bar with 46 receptions just last year.  He also  just happened to add 578 yards on the ground throughout his collegiate career.  Ricardo lined up all over the field at Auburn.

He also blew up at the NFL Combine.  He finished top 5 among all wide receivers there in the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump & broad jump.  According to mockdraftable.com his closest pro comparison given his physical attributes is Andre Johnson.  I heard he’s decent.

Yes, Ricardo took a while to really break out for Auburn, but all of the wide receivers that he would lose targets to in his first couple seasons are now in the NFL: Sammie Coates, Duke Williams & Quan Bray.

Plus, Even with mediocre (at best) play from the QB position his senior year, he managed to average over 15 yards per reception.

The list of reasons to like Ricardo Louis goes on and on.  The hard part is predicting what happens to him next.  The Browns have a ton of wide receivers for him to compete against for snaps and targets, but he very well could be up for the challenge.  Given Ricardo’s physical tools, versatile play-making ability & possible early opportunity, a man who can put up highlights like this deserves a closer look from the fantasy world.

Fantasy Outlook

Redraft – There are three ways Ricardo Louis gets drafted in your league this year: incredibly deep league with 14+ teams, Auburn fans, or he has a massive preseason breakout.  As already mentioned, in order for Ricardo to be relevant this year he’s going to have to beat out every other wide receiver  on the team (besides Corey Coleman).  He has big play ability, so he could have a few big games if given the opportunity.  If he earns the WR2 spot he could easily earn a pretty safe fantasy points floor given his propensity to get both carries and catches.

Draft Stock: He shouldn’t go inside the top 150 picks this year.  If he clearly earns the WR2 slot opposite Corey Coleman, he’ll be a popular waiver wire add.

Dynasty – Ricardo Louis is a guy who hasn’t been getting much love among the dynasty community.  In March, I mentioned him as a late round steal at wide receiver that was basically free, and that’s still the case.  Back then he wasn’t even being selected in 4-round rookie drafts.  That’s only slightly improved now.  Ricardo Louis is a WR that costs basically nothing in dynasty, but could easily return great dividends.  Given the Browns habit of ruining careers he could also fizzle out and never do a thing.  At his current price, though, he should be acquired right away.

Draft Stock: Around picks 200-225 for start-up drafts & picks 35-40 for rookie drafts.

He’s married to his beautiful wife, Kelsey. Purdue University Class of 2011. Boiler Up! Lives in Nashville, TN. Titans fan (sympathetic gifts accepted). Works on music row by day. Writes about fantasy football by night. He plays club ultimate frisbee because it’s awesome. He longboards to work because he can. Find him on Twitter @FF_TravisM.

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