Matchup Analysis: Cleveland Browns at New Orleans Saints

Vegas Prediction

Vegas says: Browns 20, Saints 30

FBG Projections

TeamRushYardsTDCompAttPass YdTDINT

Cleveland Browns Offense: overview

Points (vs AVG) (rank)Rush Yards (vs AVG) (rank)Pass Yards (vs AVG) (rank)
Browns Offense21.0 (-2.9) (19)177 (+63) (2)150 (-87) (27)
Saints Defense48.0 (+24.1) (32)112 (-1) (14)417 (+179) (30)

New Orleans Saints Offense: overview

Points (vs AVG) (rank)Rush Yards (vs AVG) (rank)Pass Yards (vs AVG) (rank)
Saints Offense40.0 (+16.1) (4)43 (-70) (31)432 (+194) (1)
Browns Defense21.0 (-2.9) (15)159 (+45) (28)313 (+75) (28)

Browns Rushing offense

Good matchup vs. the Saints defense.

Carlos Hyde looked sluggish in Week 1, finding the end zone but managing just 2.8 yards on 22 rushes. He looks destined to lose some opportunity in the coming weeks as there’s just so much more explosiveness elsewhere. In Week 1, quarterback Tyrod Taylor led the pack, racking up 77 yards and scoring himself. Rookie Nick Chubb recorded a nice 17-yard run, while Duke Johnson looked fresher and more dynamic than Hyde in change-of-pace duty. Hyde will likely maintain the lead role, but he hasn’t earned a particularly long leash. There are concerns about the Browns front line, which certainly doesn’t bode well for him. Top blocker Joel Bitonio is back at left guard, though, and if rookie left tackle Desmond Harrison clicks this unit could come out of the quicksand.

The Saints run defense, atrocious as ever in 2017, remains a work in progress. But there’s reason for measured optimism after a solid Week 1 showing. Peyton Barber ripped off an early 23-yard run but was held firmly in check (46 on 18 rushes) beyond that. To improve on a noticeable level, though, the team needs a further step forward from inconsistent nose tackle Sheldon Rankins. They could also stand to find an upgrade on their thoroughly mediocre linebackers, namely Manti Te’o, who frequently leaves big gaps in the running game. Strong safety Kurt Coleman has clearly lost a step and open runs can easily turn into breakaways when the second and third levels are extremely shaky.

Browns Passing offense

Neutral matchup vs. the Saints defense.

Tyrod Taylor might still be the quarterback these Browns need. He was generally inefficient in Week 1, completing just 15 of 40 throws at a 4.9-yard average. And his late interception in Week 1 was a backbreaker, a horrendous underthrow that Josh Gordon could’ve scored on. (He had another bad underthrow in overtime that should’ve been picked off, as well.) But Taylor always sought to create big plays downfield, and he’ll almost certainly come through in stronger fashion than the nausea-inducing parade of Cleveland passers before him. Taylor has graded among the league’s leaders on deep-ball efficiency for his whole tenure as an NFL starter, so big plays are coming. He hit on downfield completions of 39 and 38 yards last Sunday, even with deep-ball specialist Gordon playing sparingly. Gordon should see some increase in snaps, as well, and he still looks like a freakish man-to-man dominator down the field. And there are enough proven, talented safety valves (Jarvis Landry, Duke Johnson, David Njoku) in place to provide more balanced performances. Taylor will be a volatile play all year, but always one capable of tilting an entire fantasy week.

The Saints’ retooled 2017 defense took a huge step forward from the disasters of previous years. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore thrived right out of the gate, winning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and grading among the league’s top cover men. But he was truly humbled by Mike Evans last week, who beat the youngster for several big plays, including a breakaway 50-yard score that left Lattimore grasping at air. Lattimore is a gifted playmaker, and his length and tenacity make him tough to shake in general. But he’s also a gambler and susceptible to big plays – especially against oversized dominators like Evans. If he’s in shape, Josh Gordon should test his mettle thoroughly Sunday. Lattimore’s counterpart, Ken Crawley, is also a talented ballhawk who makes plays on even good throws. But he, too, can be beaten down the field. With a pass rush that remains one-dimensional (Cameron Jordan is that dimension), this will likely be a boom-or-bust unit all year. Quarterbacks willing to throw tricky routes and test tough coverage will continue to find success at times.

Saints Rushing offense

Good matchup vs. the Browns defense.

Alvin Kamara could well have been on his way to a big Week 1 on the ground, racking up 29 yards on 6 carries in the first half. But when the dam burst and the Saints fell behind big, the run game vanished. Still, it was encouraging to see Kamara run with dizzying burst and instinct, routinely stymying defenders both at the line and in the open field. He’s a truly special player, and his explosiveness is virtually immune to the matchup. Mike Gillislee and Jonathan Williams shared big-back duties, but neither ran with any real purpose, and neither is a suitable replacement for Mark Ingram. This rushing attack will continue to be rooted in Kamara’s open-space prowess, after all, he’s averaged a wild 5.5 yards per carry as a pro. Running behind an elite offensive line doesn’t hurt – and left tackle Terron Armstead’s return only makes the group more cohesive. This isn’t quite the game’s most dominant rushing attack without Ingram, but it’s still the most dynamic.

Cleveland’s run defense rounded nicely into form last year under new coordinator Gregg Williams, whose run-game track record is staggering. But it didn’t show up last Sunday, even with LeVeon Bell sitting. Backup James Conner ripped off 135 yards on 35 carries, breaking a handful of splash runs and scoring twice. Still, this unit should be regarded as upper-tier. Last season, they allowed the league’s seventh-fewest ground yards per game – an astounding feat for an 0-16 team that was virtually never leading. The team could come to miss nose tackle Danny Shelton, but did fine in 2017 with his snaps severely limited. This unit should rebound soon, though the Saints front line may not be the right opponent to expect it against.

Saints Passing offense

Great matchup vs. the Browns defense.

Let’s hope no one plans on questioning 39-year-old Drew Brees much this year. Last season, while Brees’ huge dip in passing volume upset his fantasy players, he remained as efficient as he’s ever been, posting his best yardage and net-yardage per attempt marks in several years. And his Week 1 performance – albeit against a pitiful Buccaneers secondary – was dazzling (37 of 45 for 439 yards and 3 touchdowns). There’s simply been little to no drop-off in his ability, and he throws to enough dynamic talent that matchup is rarely a concern for his outlook. Michael Thomas is officially a target hog as Brees’ top receiver, and rightfully so. His 16-catch, 180-yard eruption against Tampa Bay proved that he’s capable of beating heavy attention, so fantasy leaguers needn’t worry about the question marks on the other side of the field. Ted Ginn remains serviceable as a downfield weapon, but there are more enticing options the team would prefer to see plugged into the lineup. Cameron Meredith was inactive for Week 1 – he struggled all preseason to get caught up with Brees – while explosive rookie Tre’Quan Smith drew just a single target in Week 1. Thomas and Alvin Kamara will continue to pace this group, but there’s real scoring potential everywhere, making this a matchup-proof attack.

The Cleveland pass defense, long a sore spot, showed modest promise in Week 1. That is to say that they’ve prioritized playmaking in the secondary, which resulted in four sacks and five takeaways of Ben Roethlisberger. Shining brightest was the first-round rookie Denzel Ward, who picked off two passes and flashed the ability to contain Antonio Brown. Brown got his numbers, as he usually does, but Ward provided a few impressive plays on the all-world receiver. It was also encouraging to see a dynamic pass rush from the Browns, who struggled to create pressure organically last year. Myles Garrett is arriving fast (two sacks and a pass breakup in Week 1), and there’s 2017 Saints appeal for this aggressive, attacking group. Still, Roethlisberger managed 335 yards relatively easily, and the slot appears to be a mismatch. Briean Boddy-Calhoun was shredded repeatedly by JuJu Smith-Schuster, who racked up 119 yards on 5 receptions.

Saints vs QB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)32 (+26.5)32 (+26.4)32 (+25.1)32 (+27.2)
1Ryan Fitzpatrick662128417401236146.546.542.345.3

Tyrod Taylor (FanDuel: $6600, DraftKings: $5900)

1vs PIT89154019711877126.626.624.624.6
2PROJ-Dodds23372471.40.84260.220.920.920.9 (H=58)20.9 (H=65)
2PROJ-Tremblay23382541.40.95270.221.321.321.3 (H=60)21.3 (H=67)
2PROJ-Bloom20352141.31.16370.320.320.320.3 (H=55)20.3 (H=62)

Saints vs RB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)4 (-11.9)2 (-16.5)2 (-13.9)2 (-17.0)
1Peyton Barber481969000006.
1Shaun Wilson216000000.

Carlos Hyde (FanDuel: $6300, DraftKings: $4900)

1vs PIT4722621213012.513.513.013.5
2PROJ-Dodds14650.321109.411.410.4 (H=18)11.4 (H=27)
2PROJ-Tremblay15620.311009109.5 (H=15)10.0 (H=22)
2PROJ-Bloom15550.41508.49.48.9 (H=13)9.4 (H=19)

Duke Johnson (FanDuel: $5200, DraftKings: $4200)

1vs PIT41517061802.
2PROJ-Dodds3140.14330. (H=13)9.9 (H=25)
2PROJ-Tremblay3150.14370.16.410.48.4 (H=15)10.4 (H=27)
2PROJ-Bloom4190.13200. (H=10)8.1 (H=17)

Nick Chubb (FanDuel: $5200, DraftKings: $3800)

1vs PIT4321000002.
2PROJ-Dodds3120.10001.81.81.8 (H=1)1.8 (H=1)
2PROJ-Tremblay290.10001.51.51.5 (H=0)1.5 (H=1)
2PROJ-Bloom2110.10001.71.71.7 (H=0)1.7 (H=1)

Saints vs WR

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)32 (+37.8)32 (+43.7)32 (+40.2)32 (+47.7)
1DeSean Jackson2055146200026.631.629.134.6
1Mike Evans5077147100020.727.724.230.7

Jarvis Landry (FanDuel: $6700, DraftKings: $6300)

1vs PIT81157106000010.617.614.120.6
2PROJ-Dodds6650.40008.914.911.9 (H=21)14.9 (H=34)
2PROJ-Tremblay6670.40009.115.112.1 (H=22)15.1 (H=34)
2PROJ-Bloom7710.40009.516.513.0 (H=25)16.5 (H=40)

Josh Gordon (FanDuel: $6300, DraftKings: $5800)

1vs PIT69311710007.
2PROJ-Dodds4540.40007.811.89.8 (H=16)11.8 (H=24)
2PROJ-Tremblay4530.30007.111.19.1 (H=14)11.1 (H=22)
2PROJ-Bloom3460.40007108.5 (H=12)10.0 (H=18)

Rashard Higgins (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3000)

1vs PIT54413800003.
2PROJ-Dodds2250.10003.15.14.1 (H=5)5.1 (H=11)
2PROJ-Tremblay2270.10003.35.34.3 (H=5)5.3 (H=11)
2PROJ-Bloom2310.20004.36.35.3 (H=7)6.3 (H=16)

Antonio Callaway (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3000)

1vs PIT151000000000.00.0
2PROJ-Dodds11100001.12.11.7 (H=1)2.2 (H=2)
2PROJ-Tremblay1800000.81.81.4 (H=0)1.9 (H=2)
2PROJ-Bloom000000000.1 (H=0)0.1 (H=0)

Saints vs TE

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)20 (-0.8)15T (-3.0)18 (-1.8)15T (-3.2)
1O.J. Howard43225405.

David Njoku (FanDuel: $5300, DraftKings: $3000)

1vs PIT78731301.
2PROJ-Dodds3330. (H=9)8.1 (H=24)
2PROJ-Tremblay4460.36.410.48.4 (H=15)10.4 (H=38)
2PROJ-Bloom3350. (H=8)7.7 (H=22)

Darren Fells (FanDuel: $4300, DraftKings: $2500)

1vs PIT38111201.
2PROJ-Dodds170. (H=1)2.3 (H=3)
2PROJ-Tremblay160. (H=1)2.2 (H=3)
2PROJ-Bloom1600.61.61.1 (H=0)1.6 (H=1)

Saints vs PK

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)30T (+4.8)30T (+4.8)27T (+4.1) (+0.0)
1Chandler Catanzaro2366121212.00.0

Zane Gonzalez (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)

1vs PIT0133333.00.0

Saints vs TD

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)30T (+8.3)30T (+8.3)10T (-2.3)10T (-2.3)
1Tampa Bay Buccaneers404751020117177.07.0

Cleveland Browns (FanDuel: $3000, DraftKings: $2000)

1vs PIT21.0047243300161616.016.0
2PROJ-Dodds29.704071.90.70.600. (H=11)5.3 (H=17)
2PROJ-Tremblay29.003782.40.90.500. (H=15)6.2 (H=23)

Browns vs QB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)16 (-0.6)16 (-0.7)10 (-5.2)16 (-1.1)
1Ben Roethlisberger84234133513316019.419.412.017.0

Drew Brees (FanDuel: $8800, DraftKings: $7200)

1vs TB64374543930000343431.634.6
2PROJ-Dodds263728720.812021.721.721.7 (H=46)21.7 (H=57)
2PROJ-Tremblay26392931.81220.121.621.621.6 (H=46)21.6 (H=56)
2PROJ-Bloom25362712.10.9110.121.721.721.7 (H=46)21.7 (H=57)

Browns vs RB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)29 (+11.5)29 (+10.9)28 (+9.5)29 (+12.4)
1James Conner773113526557031.236.231.738.2
1Jaylen Samuels000000000.

Alvin Kamara (FanDuel: $9000, DraftKings: $9500)

1vs TB528292129112132.141.138.646.1
2PROJ-Dodds16690.76580.419.325.322.3 (H=48)25.3 (H=56)
2PROJ-Tremblay15630.78750.420.428.424.4 (H=56)28.4 (H=69)
2PROJ-Bloom125016650.520.526.523.5 (H=52)26.5 (H=61)

Mike Gillislee (FanDuel: $4600, DraftKings: $3300)

1vs TB739000000.90.9-1.1-0.1
2PROJ-Dodds6240.31604.85.85.3 (H=7)5.8 (H=12)
2PROJ-Tremblay5190.20003.13.13.1 (H=3)3.1 (H=4)
2PROJ-Bloom250.10001.11.11.1 (H=0)1.1 (H=0)

Jonathan Williams (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3800)

1vs TB31000000000.00.0
2PROJ-Dodds260.10001.21.21.2 (H=0)1.2 (H=0)
2PROJ-Tremblay270.10001.31.31.3 (H=0)1.3 (H=0)
2PROJ-Bloom4170.10002.32.32.3 (H=1)2.3 (H=2)

Browns vs WR

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)23 (+6.3)24 (+9.2)22 (+7.2)24 (+10.2)
1Antonio Brown8316993100015.324.319.824.3
1JuJu Smith-Schuster6385119000011.916.914.419.9

Michael Thomas (FanDuel: $8800, DraftKings: $8600)

1vs TB6117161801000244030.042.0
2PROJ-Dodds7910.600012.719.716.2 (H=28)19.7 (H=40)
2PROJ-Tremblay81000.600013.621.617.6 (H=32)21.6 (H=47)
2PROJ-Bloom8920.700013.421.417.4 (H=32)21.4 (H=46)

Ted Ginn (FanDuel: $6800, DraftKings: $4800)

1vs TB506568115013.318.317.820.3
2PROJ-Dodds3420.32806.89.88.3 (H=11)9.8 (H=21)
2PROJ-Tremblay4540.321008.212.210.2 (H=16)12.2 (H=31)
2PROJ-Bloom4510.41407.911.99.9 (H=15)11.9 (H=30)

Austin Carr (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3200)

1vs TB4322200000243.04.0
2PROJ-Dodds1180.10002.43.42.9 (H=2)3.4 (H=5)
2PROJ-Tremblay1150.10002.13.12.6 (H=2)3.1 (H=4)
2PROJ-Bloom2180.10002.44.43.4 (H=3)4.4 (H=8)

TreQuan Smith (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $3400)

1vs TB121000000000.00.0
2PROJ-Dodds1140.1000232.53.0 (H=3)
2PROJ-Tremblay1700000. (H=1)
2PROJ-Bloom000000000.00.0 (H=0)

Browns vs TE

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)23 (-0.2)20 (-1.4)19 (-0.7)19 (-1.6)
1Jesse James69536006.

Ben Watson (FanDuel: $5100, DraftKings: $3400)

1vs TB51444404.
2PROJ-Dodds4330. (H=11)9.1 (H=26)
2PROJ-Tremblay3310. (H=9)7.9 (H=21)
2PROJ-Bloom4370. (H=12)9.5 (H=29)

Josh Hill (FanDuel: $4100, DraftKings: $2500)

1vs TB24111501.
2PROJ-Dodds1100. (H=1)2.6 (H=4)
2PROJ-Tremblay170. (H=1)2.3 (H=3)
2PROJ-Bloom180. (H=1)2.4 (H=3)

Browns vs PK

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)3T (-4.2)3T (-4.2)3T (-4.9) (+0.0)
1Chris Boswell0133333.00.0

Wil Lutz (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)

1vs TB1133666.00.0

Browns vs TD

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)19 (+0.3)19 (+0.3)19T (+1.7)19T (+1.7)
1Pittsburgh Steelers21327710009911.011.0

New Orleans Saints (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $3200)

1vs TB48.005290000000-4.0-4.0
2PROJ-Dodds20.103732.60.90.600. (H=23)9.2 (H=29)
2PROJ-Tremblay20.503672.40.90.500. (H=21)8.8 (H=27)