Week 6 was not kind to the Cleveland Browns. They were already without starting running back Nick Chubb and now Quarterback Baker Mayfield was spotted in a sling after the game and Kareem Hunt left the game with a leg injury. What does this mean for the Browns going forward and what should fantasy owners expect from a team that has playoff hopes and dreams.
Let’s first take a look at the injuries. Kareem Hunt was believed to have an Achilles injury when he left the game but it was later reported to be a calf injury. That news didn’t really ease any fantasy managers’ minds. It was later revealed that Hunt would be out for 4-6 weeks and likely headed to short-term IR which means the earliest he could return would be week 10 against New England. The injury itself is a tough one. We usually don’t get too much info on how severe they are, but what we can gather from the 4-6 week time for Hunt is that it is pretty severe. Calf injuries as a whole, according to Fittoplay.org, have a high chance of re-injury if there isn’t proper rehab. According to one report, an MRI is really key in determining the severity and how long a player may be out. If there is any Achilles damage it could be a season if not career-changer for Hunt.
Baker Mayfield was seen in a sling after the game. He said he dislocated his shoulder again which is an injury he had earlier in the season and has been playing through. He suffered a partially torn labrum in that shoulder which is luckily his nonthrowing arm. It will be about pain management for Baker moving forward but another big hit could knock him out for some time.
UPDATE: Baker Mayfield is out for Week 7
Odell Beckham Jr injured his shoulder and is questionable for Thursday’s game. He missed the first 2 games of the season recovering from last year’s knee injury. An older injury includes Jarvis Landry, who is still out with a knee injury and should be hopefully returning soon.
The Browns are coming into a short week playing Thursday against the Denver Broncos, a good but not great defense. Nick Chubb is OUT for Thursday. This leaves Demetric Felton and D’Ernest Johnson to carry the ball in Week 7. After that, it should be the Chubb show. Hunt got injured very late in week 6 so we didn’t get to see a real picture of who would take over in the backfield. Both got 20% of snaps in the game. Felton has seen some targets and snaps earlier in the season which would point to him but that could be based on his wide receiver history. So week 7 might be a complete avoid if you can.
Chubb has led the team in carries before his injury and even missing 2 weeks he is a top-end RB for fantasy. There is some concern because the offensive line for the Browns has some injuries as well. They went into Week 6 missing their top 2 tackles in Jedrick Wills Jr. and Jack Conklin. They also have injuries to center JC Tretter who has played but missed last week’s practice with a knee injury. This does not lead towards a lot of confidence in the rushing game for the Browns but the talent of Chubb should be able to overcome some of that. You have to go back to 2019 when Hunt was suspended for the first 8 games of the season. Chubb rushed for 803 yards and 6 touchdowns over that span. Chubb can do it without Hunt. Fantasy owners are hoping to have Chubb back in week 8.
For Baker, the offensive line injuries have me worried. Even though it is his non-throwing shoulder, one hit could take him out of the game. Case Keenum is the backup and he might be one of the better backups in the league. He has a ton of experience and is capable of managing the game. The wide receiver options for whoever is throwing the ball have their own injuries to deal with. Landry is still not back, with no clear sign of when he will return. Odell Beckham Jr has been a shadow of his old self this season after returning from an injury that cost him Weeks 1 and 2. With him being limited in practice leading up to week 7 and Landry not looking to come back the lack of Hunt in the passing game hurts Baker or Keenum. Hunt is 2nd on the team in total targets and leads the team in receptions. That’s a key piece missing for 4-6 weeks. The hope is after week 7 both Beckham and Landry can return and be the dominant receiving dup the Browns had hoped for
This week, fantasy owners will be scooping up Demetric Felton and D’Ernest Johnson. You can’t expect much from either but Felton has at least been involved in the passing game before the injuries to Hunt and Chubb, where Johnson hasn’t seen much until the injury to Hunt. I’m fading my expectation of Beckham who has been up and down since returning this season. He has 2 games where he was a low-end WR2 and two games where he was barely a flex. There is some hope that Donovan Peoples-Jones can be fantasy-relevant after posting two solid weeks, but a limited quarterback situation makes that seem unlikely. The offense as a whole looks to take a hit with Hunt’s injury and lingering issues for Mayfield and Beckham. After this week Chubb should be a focal point and a weekly starter. The rest are bye week fillers or streamers. Baker may have to dump off more passes which will continue the trend of the tight ends being fantasy-relevant, but this offense’s upside appears capped for the time being, especially in the passing game.
(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)