Houston Texans vs. Cleveland Browns
Here’s a little peek behind the Actor’s Studio curtains: Here at QB List, we normally all converge on the NFL games schedule like vultures to prey, hoping to end up getting to cover our favorite teams every week. I’m normally looking for the Patriots (I struck out this week, Corey beat me to it!), but my second favorite team is quickly becoming Arizona. But wow, did I pick the worst game of the week? We got a rain delay (Since when do these happen in football?), then there was an entire game of watching Baker Mayfield overthrow his targets for sixty minutes. I could have done better. But, either way, there were some exciting battles, a potential new star for a playoff team’s backfield, and we got to see how rain and wind can impact an NFL contest. In an extreme wind game, we saw both teams opting for a rushing heavy attack and the Browns eeked out a 10-7 win at home!
Deshaun Watson: 20/30, 163 yards, 1 TD, 2 sacks | 8 carries, 36 yards
Deshaun Watson is currently eyeing the top of the NFL rushing quarterback tiers, but this game did not give him any favors in that regard. While his toughest opponent seemed to be the wind this week, he couldn’t get his rushing attack going, and actively spent most of the game trying to get his feet under him. To be quite frank and brutally honest, Watson has had a somewhat of a pedestrian season in comparison to how he was drafted, as he hasn’t eclipsed 100 QBR all season, and while his QBR in this game was 52.5, it still ranks as his third-worst game so far this season. While I’m willing to give him a shadow of a doubt that this game was mostly impacted by extreme winds (gusts up to 60MPH, steady at 20-30 MPH), he only averaged 5.4 yards per pass, and without his star running back in tow, this game makes me worry that Deshaun Watson is mired in as a pretty average quarterback. I still think this is an amazing buy-low opportunity, and as we’ve seen from him before, he could turn this around quickly.
Duke Johnson: 14 carries, 54 yards | 1 target, 0 receptions
C.J. Prosise: 1 target, 1 reception, -2 yards
Duke Johnson moved on from Cleveland and came over to Houston with the plans to be David Johnson‘s backup. This week is the first of at least three weeks of David Johnson’s IR stint, and with only C.J. Prosise called up from the practice squad to fill in as backup, this is Johnson’s job to thrive in. Unfortunately, he didn’t ball out as we expected. Averaging a little over four yards per carry, there were times when Duke started to look like he was getting into a groove, but he didn’t add any of his lauded PPR potential he’s known for. He didn’t haul in his single pass attempted to him, and he barely broke over 50 yards on the day. Granted, there were plenty of loaded boxes in this game, as most would gameplan for a rushing attack with this wind severity, but either way, this doesn’t make you have the warm and fuzzies about using Duke Johnson for the next couple of weeks. I’d proceed with caution on using him and hope that either this week’s starts of him were bye week woes and not best-case scenarios.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Brandin Cooks: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 39 yards
Will Fuller: 8 targets, 5 receptions, 38 yards
Randall Cobb: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 41 yards
Kenny Stills: 1 target, 1 reception, 6 yards
Pharoah Brown: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 21 yards, 1 TD
Darren Fells: 1 target, 1 reception, 15 yards
Jordan Akins: 1 target, 1 reception, 5 yards
This may just be the best core of wide receivers that Deshaun Watson could have, but this wind truly teed off and made both squads uncomfortable, leading us into a 3-0 game until the final quarter of the game. Brandin Cooks shared the target lead with Will Fuller and has had a resurgence in his past five games (12 targets, 9 targets, 9 targets, 9 targets, 8 targets, respectively), and even in a windy weekend he still lead the target share brigade. Cooks has thankfully found himself out of the cloud of concussion worries and has become the apple of Watson’s eye. Fuller, as always, will continue to be a dominant presence in the over the top deep threat attack, but since this game was likely to be mostly a ground game, Fuller only saw five targets on the day. There’s really not much to pull from this game, as not much offense of any type was to be had, but I think this leaves us pretty much where we were prior to this week for everyone on these squads as they should get a free pass due to the weather. Roll with Fuller and Cooks going forward as low-end WR1/high-end WR2 options, as both have found themselves pacing this squad for targets even in an average Watson season.
Baker Mayfield: 12/20, 132 yards, 1 sack | 3 carries,1 yard
No two ways about it, Baker Mayfield has lost his luster quick and has fallen out of favor as a fantasy quarterback option, and he could be looking from the outside in next year if the Browns end up snagging a quarterback in the draft. In a game where Deshaun Watson looked pedestrian, Mayfield somehow looked even worse and he didn’t even clear a 40 on the QBR. While we once again need to mention the wind (there’s your bingo free space), he was overthrowing his options left and right and gave his rushing stars behind him very little opportunity to trick the defenses in front of them. Mayfield isn’t worthy of anything but a deep stash in 2QB leagues, and it would require a very long look to even ponder picking up with bye weeks mostly out of the way.
Nick Chubb: 19 carries, 126 yards, 1 TD | 1 target, 0 receptions
Kareem Hunt: 19 carries, 104 yards | 4 targets, 3 receptions, 28 yards
Nick Chubb returned from an injury and seemingly didn’t miss a beat. Racking up yards with vigor, he ended the game with an almost 10 yards per carry average, and exploded out of the backfield with a dynamic cutback for a touchdown later in the game, and topped his studly line off late in the game with a massive fifty-plus yard run that he ended by tapping out at the one-yard line to milk out the clock for the Browns. You can see the touchdown cut below!
Not to be outdone, Kareem Hunt quietly eclipsed 100 yards as well, and while he was seemingly less discussed on the broadcast, he still got his stats stuffed. He has actively become the option du jour for Mayfield in the passing game, as he can be both a dynamic game-breaker with space while also being used as a check-down valve when defenses are breathing down on Mayfield in the pocket.
Both of these players are immensely talented, and amazingly will both be seen by me and many others as top ten rushers for the remainder of the year. Chubb should continue to eat up chunks of ground yards, and Hunt will average somewhere between thirty to fifty receiving yards in weeks in which Chubb won’t allot as many rushes by sheer yardage needed.
— QB List (@TheQBlist) November 15, 2020
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Jarvis Landry: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 28 yards
Rashard Higgins: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 29 yards
Donovan Peoples-Jones: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 16 yards
Austin Hooper: 2 targets,1 reception, 11 yards
KhaDarel Hodge: 1 target, 0 receptions
You don’t have nearly AS MUCH offensive weaponry for the Browns as you do in Houston, as Odell Beckham tore his Achilles just weeks ago, and Jarvis Landry has seemingly lost whatever groove Stella gave him, as he ended the day with the most targets (5) but only came out of it with 2.8 standard fantasy points, 5.8 in PPR. There are some intriguing receiving options in bye weeks or deep bench leagues, but likely in leagues where these players are needed, almost everything will be dart throws. Rashard Higgins has flashed signs of being a viable NFL wide receiver, but unfortunately, this is a QB to WR scenario, and I just can’t sign off on linking up any offensive players that you need a Mayfield accurate pass from. Landry will remain your best bet for fantasy value in this receiving crew, but he’s trended down from a PPR WR1 to possibly a PPR WR3/Flex at best in 3WR leagues, as he cannot remain consistent, and on the year is averaging just 15 completions per game.
— Matthew Bevins (Reddit:TheLongSpring/Twitter:MattQBList)