Kickoff: Thursday, October 21st, at 8:20 PM EST
Location: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
Betting Odds: DEN +6, 44.5 total via Oddsshark
Teddy Bridgewater (Start if you must, QB2)
I would take Teddy Bridgewater’s Week 6 performance as a bit of a mirage, where he completed 35 of 49 attempts for 334 yards and three touchdowns. However, he had three interceptions to go with that, and the Broncos are losers of three straight. One would wonder if Drew Lock will be given a chance if Denver can’t knock off the Browns this week. Personally, in the BYEpocalypse week we find ourselves in, Bridgewater could be a serviceable streamer, but I would scope out for better options if you can. It also helps that Cleveland has allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends to quarterbacks this season.
Melvin Gordon III (Start, FLEX), Javonte Williams (Start, FLEX)
It feels like we’re inching close to the Javonte Williams breakout game, yet he’s still been even-keeled with Melvin Gordon III as one of the realest timeshares in the league to date. Williams has yet to hit even 65 yards on the ground but can prove to be a FLEX option against the Browns if you’re dealing with BYE issues. Gordon himself has only one 100+ yard rushing game this year, and it came in Week 1 and was 101 yards. He too can still be started, but with the two backs splitting at the rate that they have been, it’s hard to expect blowup games from either right now.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
Courtland Sutton (Start, WR2), Tim Patrick (Start, WR3), Noah Fant (Start, TE1)
A garbage-time touchdown elevated Courtland Sutton’s fantasy day last week in the loss to Las Vegas, but hauling in eight of 14 targets for 94 yards was more than welcomed. It was the second game in a row where Sutton saw 10+ targets and seven-plus receptions, putting Sutton steadily in the WR2 space as Denver’s truest deep threat. Tim Patrick’s day was salvaged with an opening drive score, as he only caught three of six targets for 42 yards. Even so, he continues to post double-digit fantasy points in full PPR leagues; he has in every week except Week 4 against the Ravens. You can continue to treat him as a viable WR3/FLEX option. Noah Fant had a big day against the Raiders, catching nine of 11 targets for 97 yards and a touchdown. It’s a short week ahead, but Fant is on the TE1 map once again.
Case Keenum (Sit)
As a quarterback, being seen in a sling on a Sunday post-game with a Thursday Night Football game on the docket is never a good look. Baker Mayfield is suffering a left shoulder injury on his non-throwing arm, but it’s not season-ending, nor will it require surgery immediately. Mayfield sternly told reporters on Tuesday that it’s his decision to play, but on Wednesday morning, news broke that Case Keenum will start. That being said, the decision is easy: don’t start Keenum this week.
D’Ernest Johnson (Start, RB2), Demetric Felton (Sit)
Boy, that escalated quickly. Last week against the Cardinals, Nick Chubb was ruled out with a calf injury, and news broke Tuesday afternoon that he will be out again for this game against Denver. To make matters worse, Kareem Hunt suffered a calf injury of his own that has landed him on the IR, and could miss up to six weeks. Enter in D’Ernest Johnson to attempt to fill the void. He’s no doubt a top priority add this week, whether you are a Chubb or Hunt owner, or in a BYE week bind. If you can snag him, he’s an easy start off volume alone, but do not expect any sort of replication from the backs ahead of him. Demetric Felton is the consolation prize in PPR formats, but even then, I’m not bothering to start him this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Donovan Peoples-Jones (Start, FLEX), Odell Beckham Jr. (Sit), Rashard Higgins (Sit), Jarvis Landry (), David Njoku (Sit), Austin Hooper (Sit)
Is it DPJ szn? Donovan Peoples-Jones is shaping up to be the guy this week with Odell Beckham Jr. dealing with a shoulder injury, and Jarvis Landry still not ready to return from his knee injury. Peoples-Jones caught four of five targets for 101 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s loss to the Cardinals, and should be expected to be a target hog as one of the only healthy receivers left for Cleveland. Rashard Higgins will be asked to step up if the likes of Landry and Beckham can’t go, but I wouldn’t be rushing to start him. Even if Beckham is active, I wouldn’t recommend starting him on a short week.
Even if they should see an uptick in targets, I would hate to be burned on a Thursday night by either David Njoku or Austin Hooper. Double whammy in the tight end department for the Browns, as neither pass catcher can be trusted this week. It’s also worth noting the Broncos have given up the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season.
-Matthew Cava (@cavaM_ Twitter & Reddit)