There are plenty of moving pieces for Cleveland with Hue Jackson fired, Jarvis Landry with one good game in the past five, David Njoku coming off a zero-catch outing, and Nick Chubb new to the starting role.
With a spotty Kansas City defense up in Week 9 and being hearty home underdogs, are the Browns a sneaky place for tournament plays?
Dan Hindery: There is some intrigue here, especially in game stacks. If you are going to roster one or more of the Chiefs top options assuming they put up a lot of points on this Browns defense, Duke Johnson Jr Jr. is an intriguing tournament option. The Browns previous offensive staff couldn’t figure out how to get the ball into the hands of arguably their most explosive playmaker but maybe a change at play caller leads to a bigger role. Plus, the game script could play into Johnson’s favor. If Cleveland falls behind by multiple scores, he should see the field over Nick Chubb. Johnson is just $3,800 on DraftKings against a Chiefs defense that has been especially vulnerable to opposing backs. The one early-week caveat here is health-related — Johnson landed awkwardly against the Steelers and came up limping. It would be ideal to see full practice participation late in the week, especially with a new staff, to feel confident enough in his health to play him.
Phil Alexander: The elimination of Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley are welcome developments for the Browns, but I don't trust their passing game to turn things around in less than a week. Nick Chubb, on the other hand, looks like one of the better point-per-touch plays at running back in Week 9. Since the Carlos Hyde trade, Chubb has seen at least 18 touches in each game (including an uncharacteristic two receptions on three targets last week), yet he remains priced in the backup territory on DraftKings ($4,500). While the game script can easily go sideways against Kansas City, Chubb is still a worthy tournament option. His ownership percentage is likely to be lower than the probability he rips a long touchdown run before the game gets away from Cleveland. The matchup is also in his favor against the Chiefs 32nd-ranked rush defense (DVOA).
James Brimacombe: I think Cleveland is worth some plays this week. All the names mentioned above should be in consideration and Baker Mayfield maybe the player that you want most as any game script looks like he will be the one putting up points. I don’t mind a Mayfield, Chubb, and Landry stack this week and maybe rostering Hunt and Watkins (or Kelce) on the other side of this game for a true game stack in GPPs. David Njoku is the one that I think comes with some risk as he is coming off that zero catch game and his potential workload is a concern moving forward, but also because of the performance last week he could have some really low ownership in tournaments.
I think Cleveland is worth some plays this week. All the names mentioned above should be in consideration and Baker Mayfield maybe the player that you want most as any game script looks like he will be the one putting up points. I don’t mind a Mayfield, Chubb, and Landry stack this week and maybe rostering Hunt and Watkins (or Kelce) on the other side of this game for a true game stack in GPPs. David Njoku is the one that I think comes with some risk as he is coming off that zero catch game and his potential workload is a concern moving forward, but also because of the performance last week he could have some really low ownership in tournaments.
Justin Howe: I’m on board with Dan on Duke Johnson Jr. He’s far too dynamic to stay hidden; remember, he closed out 2017 as the PPR RB11. His 2018 disappearing act likely stems from the old coaches’ inability to juggle his talents. Johnson is not only far more accomplished than Chubb as a receiver – he’s one of the NFL’s best targets out of the backfield, and he’s capable in the slot, too. The Browns can’t pin their entire backfield on Chubb, so with any offensive improvement whatsoever, they’ll likely create more snaps for Johnson automatically. It’s not crazy to envision a Browns attack that features Johnson heavily on passing downs. Those will come often for this losing-oriented team, and there could be weeks in which Johnson manages to even out-snap and out-touch Chubb.
Beyond that, I’m not holding my breath for much dynamism. Baker Mayfield looks like a decent rookie starter, but he’s not locking on to anyone in particular, and I’m not in the practice of stacking rookie quarterbacks from bad teams and praying I’ve picked the right target. Landry, Njoku, and Antonio Caldwell look like pure hit-or-miss guys on any given week.
BJ VanderWoude: I do think the Browns are a sneaky play this week, and that has to do with both a great matchup against Kansas City, and the fact that the new coaching staff will want to get Baker Mayfield going as soon as possible, as their jobs are now the ones on the line.
I really like Jarvis Landry in this matchup against the Chiefs. He is a target hog and the Chiefs have already allowed four 100+ yard receivers and given up seven touchdowns to opposing wide receivers. With the exception of Antonio Brown, every wide receiver who has at least seven receptions against the Chiefs has gone over the 100-yard mark.
David Njoku is also a solid start this week against a Chiefs secondary has given up three receiving touchdowns to opposing tight ends. Additionally, they have allowed five different tight ends to exceed 50+ receiving yards, including 5/79 to George Kittle, 5/138/1 to Jesse James, 5/61/1 to Jeff Heuerman and 3/97 to Rob Gronkowski. Considering how fairly priced Njoku is across the industry, this is a great week to roster him in GPP's, especially coming off his worst game of the season when most owners will be gun-shy to put him in play.
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