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Cleveland Browns 2021 Fantasy Preview

Browns Fantasy
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For the first time since 2002, the Cleveland Browns made the playoffs last season with an 11-5 record. The running game led the way as the Browns finished fourth in the NFL with 495 rushing attempts. Their terrific running back duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt accounted for 78 percent of the rushing attempts. This style of play was precisely how first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski envisioned the Browns. In the second year of Stefanski’s system, let’s look at what fantasy players can expect from the Browns this season.

Make sure to check out all of our other 2021 Fantasy Football Previews.

Quarterbacks – Baker Mayfield

Last season, Mayfield finished the year as the QB25 on a point per game basis, averaging 15.5 per game. Furthermore, Mayfield has averaged under 17.5 fantasy points per game every year of his career as the Browns are a run-first team. Last season, Mayfield finished 17th in the NFL with 486 pass attempts. However, he had only 82 more attempts than Joe Burrow despite playing in 6.5 more games. Furthermore, Mayfield has never thrown for 3,900 yards in a season. Mayfield also has limited rushing value, averaging 1.5 fantasy points per game on the ground for his career. While Mayfield is a good quarterback for the Browns, he should only get selected in two quarterback or super flex drafts.

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Running Backs – Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt

The Browns have the best running back duo in the league. Last season, Hunt finished as the RB10, while Chubb finished as the RB11. However, on a point per game basis, Chubb finished as the RB7 while Hunt finished as the RB19. Both running backs had 11 or more total touchdowns last season on under 200 rushing attempts. Chubb missed four games with an injury, but in his 11 healthy games, he averaged 18.5 fantasy points per game, scoring 14.5 or more in all but two games. Furthermore, Chubb had over 100 rushing yards or a touchdown in all but one healthy game last season. While Chubb lacks top-five upside due to his limited role in the passing game, he is a consistent week-to-week low-end RB1.

Many believe Hunt finished as a top-12 running back because of Chubb’s injury. However, Hunt averaged the same 13.7 fantasy points per game with and without Chubb in the lineup. Furthermore, Hunt’s lone 100-yard rushing game came in Week 10, with Chubb rushing for 126 yards. Unlike Chubb, Hunt was inconsistent week-to-week. Hunt had seven games with under 9.5 fantasy points last season. By comparison, he had six games with over 14.5 fantasy points. Furthermore, despite Chubb averaging 1.3 catches per game, Hunt averaged only 2.4 catches per game. Moreover, Hunt had only two games with four or more catches despite Chubb and Odell Beckham Jr. missing 13 combined games. Unless Chubb suffers a season-ending injury early in the season, Hunt is a low-end RB2 at best, even in PPR.

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Wide Receivers – Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones

Since landing with the Browns, Beckham has been a fantasy disappointment, averaging 12.5 points per game. Furthermore, Beckham has seven career receiving touchdowns in 23 games with the Browns and hasn’t scored more than six receiving touchdowns since 2016. However, since joining the Browns, Beckham has a 24 percent target share, averaging 7.7 targets per game. Before getting hurt last season, Beckham had a 13 percent touchdown rate and was on pace for seven touchdowns over 16 games. With no guaranteed money left on his deal starting in 2022, Beckham is in a contract year. Coming off an injury, expect Beckham to be motivated to have his best season since joining the Browns.

Despite playing most of the season as the Browns’ No. 1 wide receiver, Landry finished the year as the WR33, averaging only 12.5 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, it was Landry’s lowest-scoring fantasy season since his rookie year. Yet, according to Fantasy Football Calculator, Landry’s average draft position is the WR44. For some crazy reason, his ADP is higher than receivers like Will Fuller, Curtis Samuel, and Darnell Mooney. Even with Beckham sidelined for nine games last season, Landry had near or career-lows across the board in catches (72), targets (101), receiving yards (840), and receiving touchdowns (three). Landry’s ceiling is extremely limited with Beckham returning and the development of the younger wide receivers. Furthermore, in most drafts, you can argue Landry shouldn’t be selected at all.

Speaking of the younger wide receivers, the Browns have an interesting trio behind Beckham and Landry. When Beckham went down with a torn ACL, Higgins stepped up, averaging 9.3 fantasy points per game last season. Behind him, People-Jones showed some flashes, scoring 12.4 or more fantasy points in a third of his games. Furthermore, he has been the talk of training camp so far and could turn into the Browns WR3 this season. Despite having a talented wide receiver room already, the Browns spent a third-round pick on Anthony Schwartz. Of the trio, People-Jones is worth a late-round dart throw in deeper leagues. If Beckham or Landry misses games with an injury, any of these three young wide receivers could become a top waiver wire add.

Tight Ends – Austin Hooper

During the 2020 offseason, the Browns signed Hooper, making him one of the highest-paid tight ends in the NFL. However, coming off a career-high 14.7 fantasy points per game in Atlanta, Hooper regressed with the Browns. He averaged 8.7 fantasy points per game, his lowest average since 2017. Hooper finished as the TE19 on a point per game basis. Furthermore, Hoop averaged career-lows 6.2 yards per target and 9.5 yards per catch. However, Hooper proved to be a startable tight end at different points during the season, finishing as a top-12 tight end in just under half of his games. While Hooper isn’t a tight end you should draft in standard-size leagues, he should become a streaming option throughout the season.

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Defense/Special Teams

After finishing last season as the D/ST17, averaging 5.9 fantasy points per game, the Browns made several changes on defense in the offseason. Despite Myles Garrett recording 12 sacks, the Browns finished 15th in the NFL with 38 sacks. Furthermore, the Browns finished in the bottom half of the league with only 21 forced turnovers. In the offseason, the Browns added Jadeveon Clowney and Takkarist McKinley. They also signed Anthony Walker and drafted Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah at linebacker. To top things off, the Browns added several pieces to their secondary, including veterans Troy Hill and John Johnson. They also used their first-round pick on Greg Newsome. After all their new additions this offseason, the Browns D/ST has the players needed to finish top-12 this year.


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Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images

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Check us out on our socials:   
Twitter: @PTSTNews and @TalkPrimeTime
Facebook Page: Prime Time Sports Talk
Join our Facebook Group: Prime Time Sports Talk 
Instagram: @primetimesportstalk

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