The Browns are expected to transition second-year tight end Njoku into a full-time starting role this season, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal reports. As a rookie in 2017, Njoku earned five starts versus 14 for Randall Telfer and four for Seth DeValve. The current tight-end room only has two experienced options -- DeValve and free-agent pickup Darren Fells -- so the Browns' plan to elevate Njoku's workload appears as though it will come to fruition. Considering the upgrades at quarterback (Tyrod Taylor and 2018 first overall pick Baker Mayfield) and the skill positions (Jarvis Landry, Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb) this offseason, Njoku should have a better situation to improve upon first-year marks of 32 catches, 386 yards and four touchdowns on 60 targets.
Njoku, who caught two passes for 38 yards during Sunday's 28-24 loss to the Steelers, finishes his rookie season with 32 catches for 386 yards and four touchdowns. Njoku and fellow tight end Seth DeValve spent much of the year splitting offensive snaps, yet Njoku showed numerous flashes that he is capable of being Cleveland's No. 1 tight end in 2018. He led the team with four touchdowns and was just one reception shy of tying for the second most. The rookie has a bright future, and his outlook will only improve if the Browns improve their offense this offseason.
Njoku was held without a catch on three targets during Sunday's 27-10 loss to the Ravens. For the first time in his NFL career, Njoku finished a game without at least one reception, ending a remarkable streak of 13 consecutive matchups with a catch. The rookie tight end out of Miami has been quiet during the last two weeks, with just one reception on five targets. Josh Gordon's presence has eaten into Njoku's targets, but because Cleveland is usually playing from behind, there still should be plenty of opportunities for the 21-year-old to finish the season strong.
Njoku (foot/wrist) practiced fully Friday and doesn't carry an injury designation for Sunday's game against the Ravens. Neither injury looks like it will inhibit Njoku in Week 15, but his inconsistent production in recent games will make him a high-variance fantasy play at tight end. After turning in back-to-back four-catch outings in Weeks 12 and 13, Njoku failed to make an impact in the Browns' loss to the Packers last Sunday, hauling in just one of two targets for three yards.
Njoku was limited at practice Wednesday with foot and wrist injuries, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal reports. After recording a career-high 74 receiving yards and a touchdown in Week 13 against the Chargers, Njoku had a disappointing follow-up effort in Sunday's overtime loss to the Packers, hauling in just one reception for three yards. It appears he may have gotten nicked up in the contest as well, though neither injury is believed to be anything overly significant. Njoku is officially listed as third on the Browns' depth chart at tight end, but he and Seth DeValve are the clear top pass-catching options at the position, despite the blocking-minded Randall Telfer being listed ahead of them in the pecking order.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|2||09/16||@New Orleans Saints||5||5.22|
|3||09/21||New York Jets||23||7.25|
|6||10/14||Los Angeles Chargers||4||5.00|
|7||10/21||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||3||5.00|
|9||11/04||Kansas City Chiefs||12||6.06|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||60||32||386||4||17||12.06||62|