Kickoff: Sunday, September 26th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: First Energy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
Betting Odds: CLE -7, 46 Total on Vegas Insider
Justin Fields (Sit*)
Hopefully, this is one of the only times you’ll have to sit Justin Fields moving forward. In my opinion, he’s the top rookie quarterback in terms of fantasy production, which you’d expect for a quarterback who is a freak athlete and also broke PFF’s college accuracy records. With 10 designed rushes in not even a full game last week, we already got a glance of what this offense can look like with Fields moving forward. However, the Browns are a slow-paced offense with a talented defense, hurting Chicago’s chances for offensive success, and rookie quarterbacks can go through their growing pains. Luckily, with the Lions and Raiders coming up, you can feel comfortable starting Fields moving forward!
David Montgomery (Start, RB2), Damien Williams (Sit)
With Fields taking over, this offense shifts towards a more run-centric attack tailored around Fields’ skillset. On the bright side, this could mean improved rushing efficiency for David Montgomery, who also ran 64% of the routes available in Week 2. Now, Fields will take away from some of his goal-line touches, and is less likely to target him in the passing game, which keeps him from being an “RB1” moving forward. That being said, expect his rushing yards/attempt to be a career high this season.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Allen Robinson (Start, WR2), Darnell Mooney (Sit*), Marquise Goodwin (Sit), Cole Kmet (Sit)
Do you know who can benefit from the switch to Fields under center? The Bears receiving corps. Whereas Andy Dalton averaged just 4.6 intended yards per target, Fields has averaged 10.5. This means much more usage for Allen Robinson down the field, making him less target-reliant and increasing his fantasy upside. In reality, Fields is the best quarterback he’s played with in the NFL; although this is now a more run-heavy offense, his yards/target should increase significantly. Meanwhile, this also does wonders for Darnell Mooney, the team’s main deep threat. He had a 36% target share, mainly with Fields, in Week 2, and if that’s a sign of things to come between the two, his stock could rise in a hurry. The Browns aren’t the easiest test, yet he might be a FLEX starter in future weeks. However, this new offense doesn’t help tight end Cole Kmet, who is mainly used in short yardage situations and wasn’t someone Fields looked to target (5% target share) in Week 2. Hopefully, a new role can be carved out for him to take advantage of his athleticism.
Baker Mayfield (Sit)
Can we talk about how terrific Baker Mayfield has been this season? He’s averaged 10.9 yards/attempt with a 7.8% big-time throw this season, which is exactly what he needs to be doing as he pushes for a new contact. Unfortunately, playing for a slow-paced offense not afraid to run the ball doesn’t help his fantasy outlook, especially since he’s not a factor in the rushing game. Facing the Texans was about the best matchup he was going to have, and he still finished 16th in fantasy points. Chase a higher upside elsewhere.
Nick Chubb (Start, Low-End RB1/High-End RB2), Kareem Hunt (Start, Flex)
The Browns continue to have the most dynamic running back duo in the league in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Seriously, they might be two of the top-10, if not top-five, pure rushers in the NFL! However, since they’re in a 50/50 committee, they rely greatly on efficiency and touchdowns for fantasy production. That hasn’t been an issue for Chubb early on this season, yet the Bears’ front seven isn’t the easiest test; I wouldn’t call him a top-ten running back for this week, though someone you’re clearly starting. I’m not quite sold on starting Hunt this week, as it’s a tough opponent, though his usage and talent likely locks him into about 10 PPR points; choose to start him based on how that scenario will impact your team.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Odell Beckham Jr. (Start, Flex), Rashard Higgins (Sit), Donovan Peoples-Jones (Sit), Anthony Schwartz (Sit), Austin Hooper (Sit), David Njoku (Sit)
Hey, Odell Beckham Jr. appears to be back healthy! I understand he’s coming back from a torn ACL, but part of the reason Cleveland likely held him out for the first two weeks of the year is to ensure 100% health, while there isn’t much target competition with Jarvis Landry out with an MCL injury. Facing a lackluster secondary, I’d be fine starting him as a FLEX option, even with the risks. From there, the rest of the receiving options consists of a cluster of players with volatile target shares and overall production in an offense that is utilizing three receivers and three tight ends. Rather than pick a needle out of a haystack, enjoy spending your time in a more efficient matter.
All Stats via Pro Football Focus