After a lost season in Miami in 2014, Brian Hartline is coming home. Born in North Canton, Ohio, Hartline is no stranger to Browns fans who saw him play at Glen Oak High School and Ohio State. In many ways, that makes him an automatic fan favorite. But for Hartline to keep winning popularity contests, he will have to show he can rebound from a down year. With Cleveland starved for receiving help, is Hartline the answer?
At least one prominent member of the Cleveland media, Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland, expects Hartline to lead the Browns in receiving this year. Before he slid into the abyss last season, Hartline had topped 1,000 yards and 70 receptions in both 2012 and 2013. While he's often been typecast as a boring fantasy player with limited upside, Hartline has produced some big games during his career. During one memorable performance against Arizona in 2012, Brian totaled 12 receptions for 253 yards and a touchdown.
In six seasons, Hartline has scored 12 touchdowns. Even in an era where coveted PPR specialists are excused somewhat for scoring fewer touchdowns, that kind of end zone futility is unacceptable. Hartline's quarterback situation is also going from Ryan Tannehill to Josh McCown (or Johnny Manziel). That is a pretty big drop. Cleveland’s coaching staff is going to try and mask their passing game woes by running the ball as much as possible, so there will not be much in the way of volume for any of their receivers. Dwayne Bowe and Andrew Hawkins are also going to be heavily involved when Cleveland takes to the air, so it's fair to wonder if Hartline peak during those two years in Miami.
Hartline is a WR5/WR6 in his new home. There is no doubt he could probably pinch hit as a starter for your team during the season as an emergency option, but it would be better to build the end of your bench with players who possess greater potential.