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Cleveland Browns Fantasy Football Preview

Baker Mayfield Browns
Baker Mayfield is one of the NFL’s rising stars, and Craig Forrestal feels Baker could be destine for a breakout season.

By Craig Forrestal

Another year and another new coach in Cleveland. We wish Kevin Stefanski luck with what has become possibly the toughest head coaching job in all of sports. Stefanski is a young head coach as he has not even hit his 40’s yet. Stefanski, the son of former NBA Executive Ed Stefanski, has held a variety of roles as an assistant in Minnesota from 2006 until he was named coach of the Browns. The hope is that this can finally be the stable coach for Mayfield and his career as he has played for a handful of coaches since being drafted in 2018. The offense is loaded minus the offensive line and the defense, on paper, looks like a force to be reckoned with.

Schedule

  • Week 1: at Ravens
  • Week 2: Bengals
  • Week 3: Washington
  • Week 4: at Cowboys
  • Week 5: Colts
  • Week 6: at Steelers
  • Week 7: at Bengals
  • Week 8: Raiders
  • Week 9: Bye
  • Week 10: Texans
  • Week 11: Eagles
  • Week 12: at Jaguars
  • Week 13: at Titans
  • Week 14: Ravens
  • Week 15: at Giants
  • Week 16: at Jets
  • Week 17: Steelers

Players To Know

  • Baker Mayfield-QB: The talent is there for Baker Mayfield but he has had zero consistency. In 2018 the head coach was Hue Jackson. In 2019 it was Freddie Kitchens. Upcoming in 2020 it is Kevin Stefanski. Mayfield is set to play for his 3rd HC in 3 years. Stefanski did wonders with Case Keenum in 2017 as the two were paired up in Minnesota. Keenum has found his way to Cleveland as a coach in shoulder pads to help ease Mayfield into the offense and be his go-to-guy for any questions he might have. Mayfield even has upgraded weapons if you can believe that with the addition of Austin Hooper at TE. I expect Mayfield to be a guy that people are lower on than they should be and he will be an excellent return on investment. Baker Mayfield is a lock as a Top 10 Fantasy QB in 2020.
  • Odell Beckham Jr-WR: It is expected that Kevin Stefanski will bring in a more run-heavy approach compared to Freddie Kitchens. However, do not let that scare you as OBJ has a tremendous floor. OBJ is a talented route-runner with top-end deep ball skills making him a home run threat from anywhere on the field. While he saw a drop in TDs last season I would expect that number to stay the same with an addition to a talented and deep group of pass-catchers. OBJ should still be viewed as a weekly play but he more WR2 value than anything else.
  • Jarvis Landry-WR: Jarvis Landry has something in common with Julio Jones and Mike Evans do you know what it is? Those 3 are the only WRs to be Top 24 Overall WRs in each of the last 5 seasons. So we know Landry is consistent, but we should not expect a season where he sees 135+ targets. Even with the addition of Austin Hooper and an expectation for Cleveland to run the ball more you should still count on Landry to be a very reliable option in PPR leagues. I would expect him to be around 70 receptions for the 2020 season.
  • Nick Chubb-RB: Before we get any deeper into the Browns RB conversation let us be clear that Nick Chubb is the better RB. With that said it doesn’t mean that Kareem Hunt won’t be a thorn in the side of Chubb owners. The Browns put a 2nd Round Tender on Hunt, so we can expect him to get work. But, Chubb could still find himself somewhere around the Top 8 RBs once the season has come and gone. Chubb doesn’t bring a lot to the table in terms of pass-catching, so he is better suited for Standard and half-point PPR leagues. Chubb will be the lead back and should stand to get the scoring opportunities as well.
  • Austin Hooper-TE: Could we see OBJ, Landry and Hooper all post 70+ catches in 2020? I say yes. Hooper is coming off a career-season which was cut short by injury. However, don’t let the Dirk Koetter TE fascination or injury scenario fool you. Hooper will be joining Cleveland and will be a key piece to the offense. As long as Hooper can stay healthy he will be a leading fantasy TE; which is huge considering the lack of reliable weekly options at the position. Hooper was a Top 6 TE in Fantasy Football 2019 and I would expect a similar output.
  • Kareem Hunt-RB: Hunt is the wildcard to the Browns Fantasy Football Outlook. I know that sounds weird, but here is why. The Browns placed a 2nd Round Tender on Hunt meaning they value him and his skillset. To place a 2nd Round value on Hunt leads me to expect that he will be more involved this season. While it will not be a true 50/50 split I envision Hunt getting between 35-40% of the RB work in Cleveland. Hunt is the superior receiver compared to Chubb. Hunt appeared in 9 games last season finishing as RB50 overall in half-point PPR leagues. Hunt appeared in 16 games last season finishing as RB7 in half-point leagues. For perspective, I would expect Hunt to be around RB10 this season and Hunt to crack the Top 30 RBs- the worst-case scenario. Cleveland will look to run more in 2020 and that means Hunt will have stand-alone value as a weekly Flex option, and should Chubb get injured Hunt carries a league-winning value with Top 5 RB upside.

Defensive Outlook

For a team that had Super Bowl predictions in 2019 they grossly under performed. Part of the blame can be put on John Dorsey and Freddie Kitchens; neither is still with the organization. So, now it is time to start fresh in Cleveland, and man do they have to be getting tired of that. There is no way around it, the Browns were mismanaged by Dorsey and Kitchens. However, defensively there a pieces in place. On paper, the Browns defense is intimidating due to the names, but it stops there. The Browns surrendered the 3rd most rushing yards last season and a focus of the defense will be shutting down the run. Because of the playmakers and talented on this side of the ball we must proceed carefully with the Browns. I expect the Browns defense to be okay in Fantasy Football. I would consider them a middle of the road option somewhere between Defense 14-16; meaning they are playable based on match-up.

Potential Breakout Player

  • Baker Mayfield-QB

Rookie To Know

  • Donovan Peoples-Jones-WR
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