Kickoff: Sunday, October 31st, at 1:00 PM EST
Location: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
Betting Odds: PIT +3, 45.5 total via Oddsshark
Ben Roethlisberger (Sit)
Ben Roethlisberger’s days of fantasy relevancy are far behind him. He’s thrown for over 300 yards just once this season (Week 3 for 318) and holds just a 7:4 touchdown to interception ratio. Per TeamRankings, he’s averaging 6.4 yards per pass thrown, which has him ranked 30th of 33 qualified QB’s. The Cleveland defensive front could feast against Big Ben, and with that, it’s an easy call not to start him this week.
Najee Harris (Start, RB1)
The clear bellcow the Steelers hoped for when they drafted him, Najee Harris been one of the more consistent fantasy running backs this season, averaging 23.66 points in full-PPR formats since Week 2. He’s only scored four touchdowns on the season – two rushing and two receiving – and has topped 100 yards on the ground only once (Week 5 against Denver for 122 on 23 carries). The Browns have given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to RB’s on the season, but I would trust the volume to remain for Harris, keeping him in line for another potential strong week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Diontae Johnson (Start, WR2), Chase Claypool (Start, WR3), Pat Freiermuth (Sit), Eric Ebron (Sit)
Despite the play of Roethlisberger, Diontae Johnson has been supported for fantasy purposes. Across the last three games, he’s turned a total of 28 targets into 20 receptions for 235 yards and two touchdowns. It’s been a fine season so far for Johnson, who is the clear-cut WR1 in this offense. Even with JuJu Smith-Schuster’s season over, Chase Claypool has not been able to establish himself as a consistent option, with the exception of a Week 5 blowup against the Broncos, where he caught five of six targets for 130 yards and a touchdown. I would look for him to operate out of the slot more ROS, which could bode well for him going forward. If he can’t get it going against a Browns team that has given up the 11th most fantasy points to WR’s to date, he may be entering drop territory.
Tight ends Pat Freiermuth and Eric Ebron have not been viable streaming options, and that should remain as such until further notice.
Case Keenum (Sit), Baker Mayfield (Sit)
For someone so confident in being able to start last week, Baker Mayfield was ruled out, and Case Keenum stepped in. He wasn’t asked to do much – and spoiler, he didn’t – as he completed 21 of 33 attempts for 199 yards and a touchdown. Not turning the ball over was a plus, and should Mayfield not be ready to return this week, Keenum will be under center. That said, it does not make him fantasy relevant.
Speaking on Mayfield, his injury is rather worse than believed. He has a torn labrum and a fractured shoulder bone on his non-throwing arm, and rushing him back is not ideal. Especially when it comes on the heels of a report from ESPN’s Dan Graziano that suggested the Browns could sign Mayfield to a contract worth more than $30 million per year.
Nick Chubb (Start, RB1), D’Ernest Johnson (Start, RB2)
Is it over before it got going for D’Ernest Johnson? Not necessarily. Johnson was a mega fill-in for the Browns who were without both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt last week against the Broncos. He turned 22 carries into 146 yards on the ground, and one touchdown. He also had two receptions for 22 yards. Hunt’s calf injury has landed him on the IR, but Chubb is expected back this week from a calf injury of his own; of course barring any setbacks in practice. That said, this backfield has been able to support two running backs at any given moment for the last two seasons, and so Johnson still holds relevancy. I would not expect the stat line he posted against Denver, but one would figure he’ll see his fair share of touches again, spelling Chubb in an effort to risk re-injury as best as possible.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Jarvis Landry (Start, WR3), Odell Beckham Jr. (Sit), David Njoku (Sit), Austin Hooper (Sit)
Despite the Steelers allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to WR’s this season, Jarvis Landry sets to be the only potential receiving option worth starting out of Cleveland this week. He avoided re-injury last week but turned eight targets into five receptions for 37 yards. Odell Beckham Jr. has been a shell of himself and has not been the receiver in Cleveland that he was in New York; albeit due to injuries in recent years. It does not help his cause that while he’s back on the field, he is dealing with injuries to both of his shoulders. A semi-popular waiver add last week, Donovan Peoples-Jones was hit with a questionable tag right at kickoff, and never hit the field. Even if he’s in line to play this week, he lost any fantasy relevancy.
Both David Njoku, and especially Austin Hooper, have not been consistent enough to gain streaming relevancy in a week where Mark Andrews and Darren Waller are on their BYE.
-Matthew Cava (@cavaM_ Twitter & Reddit)