Fantasy owners looking for late-round tight end breakouts will surely check out David Njoku. The explosive, big-bodied second-year player flashed on several occasions last year but dealt with a few drops and plenty of weeks where he wasn't involved (12 games with two catches or less). Chances are he'll be a more refined player with a good chance at full-time reps, and he'll have better quarterbacks throwing to him, but the addition of slot wideout Jarvis Landry figures to tilt consistent targets away from Njoku. He certainly fits the profile of a touchdown-or-bust Fantasy tight end, albeit one with massive potential. That's why someone will swipe him with a late pick on Draft Day, but not before Trey Burton, Delanie Walker or even George Kittle.
Njoku was unable to corral his lone target in Friday's preseason game against Buffalo. Reportedly plagued by drops throughout training camp, Njoku responded with 46 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first week of the preseason. He had a six-yard catch wiped out by a penalty on the opening drive Friday, but he was otherwise awfully quiet despite playing 26 snaps. To be fair, the Browns had an 18:9 rush:pass ratio in the first half, with Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield combining for six completions and 22 passing yards. Njoku should get more opportunities in the third week of the preseason, and it can't hurt that his competition for pass-catching work, Seth DeValve, has missed the first two weeks of the exhibition slate with a quadriceps injury. Njoku is well on his way to a starting job, with potential for an every-down role.
Njoku caught two of his three targets for 46 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Thursday's 20-10 win over the Giants to open the preseason. There have been rumors of Njoku struggling with drops in camp, but he had no problem holding on to a 36-yard touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor on Cleveland's second possession. The athletic tight end found the end zone again two possessions later, this time on a 10-yard pass from Baker Mayfield. Njoku's prospective fantasy owners have to be ecstatic with this performance, especially since he showed a rapport with both of the team's potential starters at quarterback.
Njoku continues to struggle with drops early on during training camp, Scott Petrak of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram reports. This has been a consistent theme for Njoku during the first week ofcamp, following a rookie campaign in which he was officially credited with three drops on 60 targets but also let a few other catchable passes slip away. The Browns would like to see him seize an every-down role as their No. 1 tight end, but Njoku probably doesn't offer enough impact as a blocker to make up for the inconsistency with his hands. While it sounds like his freakish athleticism hasn't outweighed his shortcomings, Njoku still has plenty of time to make a positive impression before Week 1. Darren Fells and Seth DeValve (thigh) are also competing for snaps at tight end.
Njoku dropped four passes during Sunday's practice, Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. It's been a rough start to training camp for the second-year tight end. Njoku -- who dropped three passes during his rookie season -- is expected to take the bulk of the team's snaps at tight end after sharing the position with Seth DeValve (thigh) in 2017, though that could change if his hands become a constant issue. Njoku dropped a total of eight balls during his last two seasons of college for a 11 percent drop rate, so his problem securing the ball is nothing new, and it's something to keep an eye on as training camp continues.
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.
|* 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|