Cedric Tillman Fantasy Projections: Should You Draft Tillman in Fantasy This Year?

    He's a rookie WR in a corps with an unfixed depth chart. What are Cedric Tillman's fantasy projections in 2023, and should you draft him at his ADP?

    As the NFL season approaches, millions of people are turning their attention to fantasy football. Trying to identify which ones are overrated, underrated, and priced right, we at PFN have been researching more than 350 players. With that in mind, here are Cleveland Browns WR Cedric Tillman’s fantasy projections for 2023, as well as insights into whether he should be drafted at or before his ADP.

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    Cedric Tillman’s 2023 Fantasy Projection

    Perhaps no franchise has gone “all in” on a player more than the Browns did last year with Deshaun Watson. If they win the Super Bowl with Watson under center, then it will all have been worth it — every penny of the guaranteed (and record-breaking) $230 million coming to him.

    And so, nearly every roster decision this team makes must consider the impact on that gargantuan investment. Because Cleveland acquired Watson to help them win their first title. Full stop.

    It’s no surprise, then, that the Browns used their first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft on Tillman. It came in the third round, after 10 other wide receivers were off the board. Right before Cleveland picked, the Giants selected Tillman’s college teammate, WR Jalin Hyatt. Hyatt is faster and a year and a half younger, but Tillman is bigger and coming off a senior season where he missed six games with a high ankle sprain.

    We’ll see if Cleveland made a huge mistake not trading up — ahead of New York — to secure a field stretcher like Hyatt. The Browns didn’t have much draft capital to work with, and it’s possible they preferred Tillman all along.

    Regardless, they will assuredly utilize him in Year 1. Teams don’t generally invest their first pick in a skill player just to have him ride the pine as a rookie.

    So the question is, how will Tillman be utilized?

    He’s supposed to give Watson another needed receiver weapon. Because as alluded to above, Watson must thrive. He can’t get by on Amari Cooper and a collection of secondary options, even if some of them are ascending. This is a win-now operation — or at least, win in the next couple of years.

    Nick Chubb isn’t getting any younger. Amari Cooper is 29. Watson will turn 28 in August, and his dual-threat capabilities will almost certainly begin to wane by 2025 or 2026.

    cedric tillman

    Tillman joins not only Cooper but also the newly arrived Elijah Moore — a short-lived fantasy hero in 2021 who’s actually only three weeks older than Tillman. Donovan Peoples-Jones enjoyed a career year in 2022 and presumably won’t be completely shut out in this offense.

    Let’s also not forget about former third-round pick David Bell. Have the Browns given up on him? Injuries marred his 2022 rookie campaign, but if given the opportunity, he has the talent to get involved.

    Add in Chubb and David Njoku, and it’s easy to see Tillman as the No. 4 or No. 5 offensive option, at best. Perhaps he’ll move up the ladder as the season progresses. For now, however, he’s a valuable role player on a squad with several useful role players surrounding two or three stars.

    That’s not a promising sign in terms of production. But this is what happens when a team hands $230 million guaranteed to a quarterback who might never justify that expense. Using their first pick in the draft to take the 11th wide receiver reflected both Tillman’s legitimate talent, as well as Cleveland’s desperation to prove their QB signing was savvy and necessary.

    It should culminate in around 35-50 receptions for 375-525 yards and a couple of scores. A solid rookie effort but not a solid fantasy output.

    Should You Draft Cedric Tillman This Year?

    Underdog Fantasy currently lists Tillman at WR97. Our PFN Consensus Rankings have him at WR116. For context, teammate Marquise Goodwin was last year’s overall WR80 with a 27-387-4 receiving line. For all the reasons highlighted above, this might be a realistic floor for Tillman, with a ceiling hitting around the WR65 to WR70 range.

    This makes him a bargain in a literal sense. Again, the Browns didn’t use their top pick on a guy they plan to bury on the depth chart. At the same time, it’s tough to see Tillman pushing past both Moore and Peoples-Jones in September.

    If this becomes a spread-the-ball offense, with Watson throwing more often than the average NFL quarterback, then Tillman could hit the more ambitious production target. This would make him an intriguing final pick in a large Best Ball league, as well as a suitable final pick in a large 1QB league, in which at least 220 players come off the board.

    You see what I’m getting at. When we have to find excuses to draft a player, it often means that the player isn’t worth drafting. While Tillman should outperform market expectations, that doesn’t mean he’ll help your fantasy team. There are higher-upside guys to be found at the end of drafts.

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