Kickoff: Sunday, October 16th, at 1:00 PM EST
Location: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
Betting Odds: NE +3, 42.5 total via Oddsshark
Writer: Matthew Cava (@cavaM_ Twitter & Reddit)
New England Patriots
Bailey Zappe (Sit), Mac Jones (Sit)
Bailey Zappe led the Patriots to a shutout victory against the Lions last week, completing 17 of 21 attempts for 188 yards and a touchdown. He did also have an interception, and rushed five times for five yards. In game-managing fashion, this game was much more so run heavy for Zappe, and despite the efficient-enough box score, he remains off the fantasy radar. As of Wednesday, it’s been said that Mac Jones has a chance to return this week, but a decision may not be made until the weekend.
Mac Jones practicing again with a knee brace on as well as heavy ankle tape. Looks better and even did a light rollout to throw on the move, but still favoring the leg ankle slightly at times. Could make things interesting this week… pic.twitter.com/GKbgPjqOvT
— Khari Thompson (@kdthompson5) October 12, 2022
In any case, Jones should not be trusted if he were to play this week.
Rhamondre Stevenson (Start, RB1), Pierre Strong Jr. (Sit)
After months of off-season and summer hype, it’s finally time for the Rhamondre Stevenson show. His counterpart Damien Harris is expected to miss multiple games with a hamstring issue. With Harris exiting the game against Detroit in the first half, Stevenson bullied the Lions to the tune of 161 yards on 25 carries, catching both of his targets for 14 yards. He’s a smash-start against a Browns defense that is allowing the fourth most fantasy points to RBs on the season; 29.12 points to the position per FantasyData. One would figure rookie Pierre Strong Jr. will see some touches, but isn’t worth a start this week. However, he’ll be one to keep an eye on, as he did have a decent preseason and has success catching the ball.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Jakobi Meyers (Start, WR2), DeVante Parker (Sit), Nelson Agholor (Sit), Hunter Henry (Sit)
There’s a lone New England pass-catcher worth starting, and it’s Jakobi Meyers. Returning against Detroit from a knee injury that kept him out since Week 3, Meyers took back his WR1 duties. Zappe targeted him 11 times, and he caught eight balls for 111 yards and a touchdown. The Browns have given up the 15th most fantasy points to wide receivers on the year, but look for the target share to remain plentiful for Meyers. The likes of DeVante Parker and Nelson Agholor are fantasy irrelevant.
Tight end Hunter Henry benefited from Jonnu Smith (ankle) being sidelined last week, but it wasn’t that great of a day. He was targeted five times, catching four passes for 54 yards. Smith was limited in positional drills on Wednesday, but neither tight end would be worthy of a stream this week. That decision is even before factoring in that the Browns have given up the 31st most fantasy points to tight ends through the first five games.
Jacoby Brissett (Sit)
Cleveland will still be without Deshaun Watson for a while longer, and thus have to endure weeks of Jacoby Brissett under center. Brissett, according to FantasyData , is pegged to finish as the QB20 this week against the Patriots. Considering he’s thrown for just five touchdowns in five games this season, that projection is not shocking. The simple reality is the Cleveland offense is run-heavy, and thus Brissett is not asked to do more than game manage.
Nick Chubb (Start, RB1), Kareem Hunt (Start, RB2)
Who’s better than Nick Chubb this season? You can argue the likes of Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey – from a PPR point of view – but Chubb has been the consistent RB week after week. He already has 593 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns to his name. Owners certainly can’t complain about his lack of pass-game work, as Chubb continues to run amok on opposing defenses. Week 5 against the Chargers was his third game in a row surpassing 100+ yards on the ground; 134 to be exact. The Patriots are actually strong against the run, allowing the 27th most fantasy points to the position, but Chubb can easily break that wall down. Kareem Hunt remains the pass-catching option for Brissett out of the backfield, but the obvious difference is Chubb owning the touches. Chubb owns a 49.5 rush per snaps advantage over Hunt’s 32.2. Even so, you can deploy Hunt as a dependable RB2 on a weekly basis.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
Amari Cooper (Start,WR3), Donovan Peoples-Jones (Sit), David Njoku (Start, low-end TE1)
Amari Cooper is coming off a 12 target game in the loss to the Chargers, where he turned seven receptions into 76 yards and a touchdown. On a weekly basis, he remains the true fantasy relevant pass-catcher in this Cleveland offense, and is a steady WR3 option. Donovan Peoples-Jones, who hoped to have a larger role this season, is a continuous sit. He did have seven targets last week, but does not produce frequently enough to warrant even a FLEX option. David Njoku caught all six targets for 88 yards against Los Angeles, and is on a roll since his Week 3 breakout. He’s averaging 7.6 targets in the last three games, with 6.6 receptions and 83 yards in the span. He remains a low-end TE1.