The Browns keep finding ways to win headlines in the NFL offseason, this time adding big-time free agent tight end Austin Hooper. His addition gives Baker Mayfield arguably the best set of weapons in the NFL. The problem is, the best outcome for the Browns as a real life football team probably means there aren't enough touches around to keep everyone investing in Cleveland's offense for Fantasy satisfied. Things are never simple with the Browns, are they?
Record: 6-10 (23)
PPG: 20.9 (22)
YPG: 340.9 (22)
Pass YPG: 222.1 (22)
Rush YPG: 118.8 (12)
PAPG: 33.7 (19)
RAPG: 24.6 (22)
Relevant Fantasy players
Number to know: 29.1
Kevin Stefanski's Vikings threw the ball 29.1 times per game in 2019, which ranked 30th in the NFL. The Browns defense may not allow them to be that run-heavy but their intention most weeks will be to run the ball more than they throw it. That makes it possible for both Chubb and Hunt to have success, but it could cause some real problems in the passing game. Chubb, Hunt, Beckham, Landry, and Hooper combined to average 33 targets per game in 2019. At least one of them is going to see a significant reduction in targets.
26 wide receiver targets, 49 tight end targets
Rankings and Projections
|Heath Cummings' projections|
|QB||Baker Mayfield||3,970 YD, 27 TD, 13 INT; 124 Rush YD, 1 TD|
|RB||Nick Chubb||1,542 YD, 10 TD; 23 REC, 174 YD, 1 TD|
|RB||Kareem Hunt||467 YD, 4 TD; 59 REC, 534 YD, 4 TD|
|WR||Odell Beckham||132 TAR, 78 REC, 1,093 YD, 8 TD|
|WR||Jarvis Landry||127 TAR, 79 REC, 953 YD, 5 TD|
|TE||Austin Hooper||74 TAR, 56 REC, 556 YD, 5 TD|
Are the Browns a post-hype candidate for a big 2020?
"Cleveland failed to meet high expectations in 2019, but Freddie Kitchens is gone and the Browns have only added more offensive talent. Hooper was the big free agent name, but the Browns also replaced both offensive tackles with Jack Conklin in free agency and 10th-overall pick Jedrick Wills in the Draft. A shortened offseason could make it tough on new head coaches, but if Stefanski can get everyone on the same page, the offensive improvement could come a year later than expected." - Ben Gretch
One sleeper, one bounceback, and one bust
Yes, we're stretching the definition of a sleeper here, but let's try to get past that. Because while Hunt may have a resume that's unforgettable, he's not getting much respect on Draft Day. He's drafted behind at least two rookies in every draft and four-to-five in most. He's definitely being slept on. Let's quickly recap:
Hunt was the No. 4 back in PPR scoring in 2017. He ranked No. 5 over the first 10 weeks of 2018. He was suspended for the first eight games of 2019 then immediately vaulted back inside the top 20, ranking No. 17 over the second half.
At worst you're getting a borderline No. 2 back with top-15 upside. If Nick Chubb plays 16 games, Hunt will still outperform his ADP. After all, Stefanski ran one of the most run-heavy offenses in the league. His offseason priorities were at fullback, tight end, and offensive line. This team will run as much as their defense allows them to.
That said, there's a hidden value that seems to be completely overlooked by ADP: If Nick Chubb goes down, Hunt may just be the second best back in Fantasy. He'll almost certainly rank in the top five. Yet in most drafts, you'll see 25 to 30 backs drafted before Hunt. They're sleeping.
There are valid reasons to be concerned about Beckham. His injury history is extensive and the Browns absolutely have too many mouths to feed. But we're talking about one of the best receivers in football and it's just hard to imagine he'll be that uninspiring again.
At the very least, Beckham's touchdown rate will bounce back. He owned a 7.1% career rate but scored on just 3.0% of his targets in 2019. Even if his targets decline by 10% you should expect at least two more touchdowns from Beckham in 2020. His 55.6% catch rate in 2019 was also a career low.
Assuming Beckham is back to himself in 2020, it will be everyone else who has to worry about targets, not him. Expect him to bounce back to at least top-15 production on a per-game basis.
Last year in Minnesota, Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith combined for 95 targets on the season. Last year in Atlanta, Hooper saw 97 targets in 13 games. He'll share the field and some targets with Njoku and most weeks he'll be a touchdown-or-bust option. We still have Hooper ranked as a top-12 tight end, but that's more because of his name than his realistic 2020 outlook. The one thing that could help Hooper is if Landry can't get fully rehabbed by Week 1. But barring injury, Hooper will finish as a low-end starting tight end that you're never excited about starting. Don't draft him before the double-digit rounds.
AFC East: Bills | Jets | Patriots | Dolphins
NFC East: Giants | Cowboys | Eagles | Redskins
AFC South: Colts | Texans | Jaguars | Titans
NFC South: Panthers | Bucs | Falcons | Saints
AFC North: Ravens | Steelers | Browns | Bengals
NFC North: Packers | Vikings | Bears | Lions
AFC West: Chiefs | Broncos | Raiders | Chargers
NFC West: Seahawks | 49ers | Rams | Cardinals
So which Fantasy football busts should you completely avoid? And which running back going off the board early should you fade? Visit SportsLine now to get cheat sheets from the model that called Baker Mayfield's disappointing season, and find out.