Kickoff: Sunday, January 8th, at 1:00 PM EST
Location: Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Betting Odds: CLE+3, 39 total via Oddsshark
Writer: Matthew Cava (@cavaM_ Twitter & Reddit)
Deshaun Watson (Sit)
Week 17 was Deshaun Watson’s best game as a Brown, and it was only saved by three touchdown passes. Otherwise, his fantasy day would have been brutal, as he completed only nine of 18 attempts for 169 yards. It’s clear that Watson is still working on building a rapport with his pass-catchers, and perhaps better days are ahead for the Browns in 2023. Until then, if you find yourself in a Week 18 championship, Watson is better left on the wire.
Nick Chubb (Start, RB1), Jerome Ford (Sit)
Nick Chubb was a consensus RB1 to kick off the season, but that tune changed over the course of the last few months. Last week against the Commanders, he turned 14 carries into 104 scoreless yards, which was his first 100+ yard outing since Week 12 against the Bucs. Chubb is projected to finish as a top-15, Week 18 option in full-PPR leagues per FantasyData. Rookie back Jerome Ford has overtaken the backup role from Kareem Hunt, who is undoubtedly hoping to put this forgetful last season in Cleveland behind him, but Ford has no fantasy value this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
Amari Cooper (Start, WR3), Donovan Peoples-Jones (Sit), David Njoku (Sit)
If only it was that easy every week. Against Washington, Amari Cooper turned three receptions (on four targets) into 105 yards and two touchdowns, which was his second-best game in a Browns uniform this season. He’s 81 yards away from setting a career-high in receiving yards, and my guess is Watson will target him plenty in an effort to hit the mark; consider Cooper a solid WR3 this week. Donovan Peoples-Jones has scored twice in the last three games, but is only averaging four targets in that span, and can’t be trusted in your lineup. David Njoku is averaging just 4.6 targets over the last three games, doesn’t have over 30 yards in any of the games, and hasn’t scored since Week 14. All that said, Njoku can be left out of your lineup.
Kenny Pickett (Sit)
Kenny Pickett holds a 5:9 passing touchdown to interception ratio in his rookie campaign, but he’s played decent enough in recent weeks to have the Steelers primed for a playoff spot with a win over Cleveland this week. It would be a very impressive turnaround, considering Pittsburgh was 2-6 entering the BYE. Even so, Pickett is not a viable streaming option in single-QB leagues this week.
Najee Harris (Start, RB2)
Rejoice! If you’ve made it this far with Najee Harris, you finally got a 100-yard game on the ground out of him, as he turned 22 carries into 111 yards for the first time this season. With the Steelers playing for their playoff lives, look for them to continue to lean on Harris, making him a solid RB2 on the week.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
Diontae Johnson (Start, WR3), George Pickens (Sit), Pat Freiermuth (Start, TE2)
Another week, another seven targets for Diontae Johnson. Against the Ravens last week, he only had two receptions for 35 yards and still hasn’t found the end zone this season. He’ll look to change that against Cleveland. George Pickens hasn’t been a real factor in recent weeks, and he only had two receptions on four targets for 29 yards against Baltimore in Week 17. Pat Freiermuth had a slow day against the Ravens, catching half of his six targets for just 36 scoreless yards, but again, with Pittsburgh having all to play for, the ‘Muth will remain on the TE2 radar in the final fantasy week of the season.