Kickoff: Sunday, September 11th, at 1:00 PM EST
Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
Betting Odds: CLE +1.5, 42 total via Oddsshark
Writer: Matthew Cava (@cavaM_ Twitter & Reddit)
Jacoby Brissett (Sit)
Week 3 of the preseason wasn’t the greatest final tune-up for Jacoby Brissett, who is slated to be QB1 for the Browns while Deshaun Watson serves his 11-game suspension. He completed 13 of 23 passes for 109 yards and an interception against the Bears. It’s easy to realize out of the gate that Brissett won’t hold any fantasy relevance, especially in a single-QB lineup, as FantasyPros has him ranked QB34 in redrafts. Dating back to 2021, the Panthers gave up the seventh-fewest fantasy points to QBs.
Nick Chubb (Start, RB1), Kareem Hunt (Start, RB2)
Nick Chubb, the consensus RB9 per FantasyPros, is as solid as it gets from the RB position. Having Chubb this season adds extra intrigue given the fact that Watson won’t be under center for 11 games. Expect the Browns to rely on him heavily, with a bit of Kareem Hunt as well to ease the burden of Brissett. As the weeks go on, it’ll be key to follow Hunt’s usage and demeanor, as not too long ago this summer he requested a trade, which does not seem likely to be granted at the moment.
Last season, Carolina was fairly stout against the run, allowing just the fifth-fewest fantasy points to RBs. Even so, both Cleveland RBs are worth a start in Week 1, as the offense figures out life without Watson for the majority of the season.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
Amari Cooper (Sit), Donovan Peoples-Jones (Sit), David Bell (Sit), David Njoku (Sit)
My consensus is clear: sit all of the Browns pass-catchers this week. Newly acquired Amari Cooper leads the pack, however, he has a clear downgrade at QB having been shipped out of Dallas and away from Dak Prescott. Departure aside, he’s also coming off a down 2021, statistically and health-wise. He finished last year with just 68 receptions, 865 yards, and 8 touchdowns. This Browns offense is run-heavy, as it has been for the last few seasons, so it’s hard to trust the likes of Donovan Peoples-Jones, and rookie David Bell. Tight end David Njoku figures to be second in the pecking order behind Cooper, and without Austin Hooper in his way, he could be due for a solid season. Notoriously, tight ends are a QBs best friend, but there are certainly better options to deploy in your Week 1 lineup.
Baker Mayfield (Sit)
The NFL loves chaos, and this matchup fits the bill. Baker Mayfield, outcasted and eventually traded to Carolina, faces his former team that drafted him 1st overall just four seasons ago. The relationship soured very quickly in Cleveland, but Mayfield won a (rather easy) QB competition pinned up against fellow draft classmate Sam Darnold. That being said, Mayfield is still only 19% owned on Yahoo, and is the consensus QB26 in redrafts per FantasyPros. The drama and intrigue to start Mayfield is on a platter, but I would keep away from the spread for now. Let’s see how he gels with this new offense before starting him in single-quarterback leagues.
Christian McCaffrey (Start, RB1)
Start him while you can! I joke, but it’s certainly nice to have Christian McCaffrey back in the fold as the top 1-2 running back in fantasy. Catch him while he’s 100%, and reap the benefits of a PPR machine.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
DJ Moore (Start, WR2), Robbie Anderson (Sit), Terrace Marshall Jr. (Sit), Tommy Tremble (Sit)
If there is a Carolina pass-catcher you’ll plan on starting – this week and on the regular – it’s DJ Moore. He enters the season with the best QB he’ll have played with in his four years in the league. He’s been the guy (sans CMC) in Carolina, having notched three straight seasons of over 1100 receiving yards, averaging 82 receptions and 138 targets per year in that span. He’s poised for yet another strong season, and your biggest hope is for him to bump up the touchdown totals, as he has never scored more than four in a given season. The likes of Robbie Anderson, Terrace Marshall Jr., and tight end Tommy Tremble don’t move the fantasy needle this week.