Kickoff: Saturday, December 17th, 2022, 4:30p Est
Location: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
Betting Odds: CLE -3, 47.5 O/U total via oddhsark.com
Network: NFL Network
Writer: Dustin Ludke (@TheDunit13 on Twitter)
Tyler Huntley (Sit, QB2), Anthony Brown (Sit)
The Ravens are having quarterback issues at one of the worst times of the year. Lamar Jackson is dealing with a knee injury and is targeting a Week 16 return. Hyped backup Tyler Huntley left the game against the Steelers due to concussion protocols and that led to Anthony Brown playing on 23 total snaps. While we have to wait for Huntley to clear the protocol, early reports were promising. It is a shorter week with the team playing on Saturday, so one less day for Huntley to clear the protocol. Either way, it’s hard to trust either Huntley to Brown as a starter for fantasy. I’m expecting Huntley to start and I like his rushing upside, but the passing work didn’t jump off the stat sheet for me. He doesn’t have the top-end receivers to bail him out or that he can hyper-target to get production where it needs to be. He has to face the Browns who are giving up the 12thh fewest points to quarterbacks at 15.24. I’m sitting Huntley and definitely sitting Brown if he has to start.
J.K. Dobbins (Start, RB1), Gus Edwards (Start, FLEX), Kenyan Drake (Sit)
It was great to see J.K. Dobbins back on the field on Sunday. The former Buckeye came back with a vengeance, rushing for 120 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown. That was all while playing on only 43% of the team’s snaps, and it looked as if the Ravens were intentional about limiting his usage in his first game back. Gus Edwards got 13 carries on 34% of the team’s snaps and was able to rack up 66 yards. It was a good mix of the two against a poor rushing defense in the Steelers. That trend should continue this week against the Browns who are giving up the third most points to running backs at 27.73. I expect Dobbins to get more work and get above the 50% snaps share much like he was back in 2020, so I’m firing up Dobbins as an RB1 this week. Edwards will be able to carve himself out a niche in the offense, especially with either the second or third-string quarterback playing. He can be trusted as a FLEX play. Neither of them was used in the passing game and that work went to Kenyan Drake but he only played on 18% of the snaps and only saw two targets. Drake does not get enough volume to be trusted, making him a Sit this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Devin Duvernay (Sit, FLEX), Demarcus Robinson (Sit), Mark Andrews (Start, TE1), Isaiah Likely (Sit), Josh Oliver (Sit)
The Ravens passing attack has been lackluster this season. A Ravens wide receiver hasn’t scored a passing touchdown since Week 3 and the only other touchdown was a rushing one for Devin Duvernay in Week 8. Duvernay started the season hot but has since cooled down. He is still playing on a high number of snaps with most weeks being above 75%. He has games where he is playing 75% or more he is running over 25 routes each game. The issue is he just isn’t seeing a ton of targets: He has only seen five or more targets in five games this season, twice of which after their Week 10 BYE. While coverage will matter for Duvernay and the Ravens, what matters more is the quarterback play. Duvernay only saw one target with the combo of Huntley and Brown in Week 14 so I don’t expect him to jump to serious volume. He can probably end up in the FLEX range but I’m not trusting him in my lineups.
Demarcus Robinson has taken a bigger role in the offense over the past four weeks. He is averaging over 6 targets a game in that stretch and has three games in the WR3 range. He will have to get off coverage from Greg Newsome who rates at 65.1 and see more coverage from Denzel Ward who rates at 47.9. In the past game, he saw six targets catching five of them for 52 yards. It looks like he may be the main guy for these backup quarterbacks. The Browns are giving up 33.72 points to wide receivers which put them 16th in the league. It’s a fair matchup for the receiving corps, but that doesn’t matter without good quarterback play. You also can’t trust DeSean Jackson with his limited volume.
Mark Andrews is an elite tight end but hasn’t played as such the past few weeks. His floor is a TE2. The Browns are giving up the fifth-fewest points to tight ends at 8.84. The Ravens have been rotating in Isaiah Likely and lately more Josh Oliver in two tight end sets. You still start Andrews but you have to temper expectations. It’s a tough matchup and Andrew in the Week 7 matchup against the Browns was held to only two targets catching none of them. Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (oh-WOO-sue COR-ah-MO-uh) suffered a leg injury and would be a big hit to the defense. He rates at 71.5 in coverage. Start Andrews as a high-end TE2. You drafted him to be your tight end for the playoffs so roll him out and hope he transcends his situation.
Deshaun Watson (Sit, QB2)
Deshaun Watson continues to shake off the rust of not playing. He got a little better in his second game back. His completion percentage went from 54.55% to 61.9%. He also saw his attempts go from 22 to 42 attempts. The Ravens are giving up the 15th most points to quarterbacks at 16.3 points. It’s not a great matchup but certainly not a horrible one. It’s hard to predict how these divisional rivalry games will go. The Ravens are playing for their playoff chances while the Browns are just looking towards next year. I still haven’t seen anything from Watson that makes me want to start him. It’s a far cry from those who held on to him all year hoping for a top-10 QB for the fantasy playoffs. I’m still sitting him even if he gets into QB2 range. He has an interception in each game and hasn’t provided the rushing upside he was known for.
Nick Chubb (Start, RB2), Kareem Hunt (Sit, FLEX)
The rushing attack for the Browns has really slowed down since the BYE week. Nick Chubb early in the season looked poised to be in the MVP discussion. He was averaging 5.64 yards per carry and had 10 touchdowns in 8 games. Since the BYE, he is averaging 3.8 yards per carry and has only two touchdowns in five games. He is still getting plenty of rushing volume: In the pre-bye weeks, he was averaging 18.6 carries per game and is still averaging 16.4 now. The Ravens are giving up the seventh fewest points to running backs at 20.05. In their first matchup back in Week 7, Chubb saw 16 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown. He should be fine this week as an RB2. The volume is there; he just needs to be efficient on it.
Kareem Hunt has been a disappointment this season. The only weeks he was above the FLEX range were the weeks that he scored. He hasn’t found pay dirt since Week 7. Even with the good matchup, I’m not counting on him to produce when he hasn’t done it in so long. You haven’t been able to trust him outside of desperation FLEX play and that hasn’t panned out for you in a while. There have to be better options this week.
Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends
Amari Cooper (Start, WR3), Donovan Peoples-Jones (Start, FLEX), David Bell (Sit), David Njoku (Start, TE2)
There were lots of questions about who would be the main guy with Watson coming back and it looks like we have two contenders for the title. Donovan Peoples-Jones is leading the team in snap percentage. He hasn’t played below 95% of the team’s snaps since Week 10. He is coming off a massive 12-target, 8-receptions 114-yard game. The Ravens are giving up the seventh most points to wide receivers at 36.68 points. D.P.J. will probably see coverage from Marcus Peters who rates at 68.0 in coverage. Even if the Browns move him to the other side of the field, he would see Marlon Humphrey who rates at 74.0. It’s just a tough matchup for the former Michigan wideout, but I think you can start him as a FLEX given his big-play ability.
Amari Cooper will be the other wide-out on the outside facing the same tough coverage. He has been more consistent over the season so his solid floor puts him in the WR3 range. The game script doesn’t look to be a high-scoring affair but Cooper will continue to be the main guy as Watson works back to game form. I’m not trusting David Bell or any other wideout on the Browns.
David Njoku came back after the previous game and had a solid game. He saw nine targets and caught seven of them for 59 yards and a score. He was tied for second on the team with 44 route runs. The Ravens are giving up 9.2 points to tight ends which puts them at 16th. I’m willing to start him this week as a TE2 with an upside.