Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos
- Spread: Broncos -2.5
- Total: 35
- Browns implied points: 16.3
- Broncos implied points: 18.8
Russell Wilson: There are spots to like Wilson as a potential streamer or cute DFS option in Weeks 13-14, but this isn’t one of them. “Mr. Unlimited” hasn’t cleared 260 passing yards since September, and after running for 20+ yards in five straight games, the veteran QB recorded just a single yard on the ground on Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings.
Over his past five games, Wilson only has two multi-passing-touchdown games, and they both came against QBs that were supposed to create a high-scoring environment (KC and BUF). That’s something to track down the stretch if you’re considering going in this direction, but again, nothing like that is in play this weekend.
Jerome Ford: The snap count ended up being even last week. Ford led Kareem Hunt 37-33, but it very much was a drive-by-drive sort of deal. If I roster Ford, I liked what last week said about the hierarchy of this backfield, despite an underwhelming snap share.
On the first two drives, Cleveland ran 15 plays, and Ford had 10 touches for 36 yards and a TD. If we are to believe that the first few series are what the team spends the week scripting to take advantage of what they do well, Ford is set to hold the lead role in this backfield for the foreseeable future.
This season, 40% of yards gained on the Broncos come on the ground, which puts Ford in a position to potentially approach 100 rushing yards for the third time this season. He’s tallied 80 rushing yards or a rushing score in six of his past nine games.
I have Ford ranked as a viable RB2 in all formats this week.
Kareem Hunt: His streak of five-straight games with a rushing score was snapped last week, as he once again averaged under 4.0 yards per carry – something he has done in every game this season.
Ford out-snapped Hunt 10-2 on third downs last week, a role that we assumed Hunt would fill when he rejoined this team following the RB Nick Chubb injury.
Hunt is a roster stash more than a realistic Flex option right now. The volume is a concern, and there isn’t enough upside to chase at the moment (one yard on four targets this month, zero 20-yard gains this season).
Javonte Williams: We can nitpick exactly where to rank Williams in this tough matchup (high-end RB2 for me) all we want, but the fact of the matter is that you’re playing him. He has caught 15-of-16 targets since the beginning of October and is dominating the carry share every week.
Denver was badly out-possessed last week against the Vikings, and that resulted in an underwhelming stat line. But the role is what we are trusting here, and that was still there (11 of 13 RB carries).
Due to the high number of committees around the league right now, Williams is going to be ranked as a strong starter no matter the matchup, and with a favorable December schedule, he could crack the top 10 for the final month of the fantasy season.
Amari Cooper: Buckle up; this is going to be a bumpy ride to the finish line. After three straight games clearing 85 receiving yards, Cooper turned eight QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson targets into just 34 yards.
The limited per-target production was to be expected and is cause for concern, but I didn’t think we’d be looking at a sub-20% target share. If that continues, Cooper is at risk of falling completely off of my Flex radar.
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As is, he’s on thin ice. I expect him to see his fair share of Denver Broncos CB Patrick Surtain II this week, and that makes low-quality targets worth even less. He’s floating around WR40 in my ranks at the moment – a spot that lands him in the Buffalo Bills WR Gabe Davis/Green Bay Packers WR Jayden Reed tier.
WRs Cedric Tillman and Elijah Moore both had a route participation north of 84% playing alongside Cooper. I have my concerns about the Browns getting consistent play under center at any point for the remainder of the season, so if I’m throwing darts, give me the deep threat (Tillman’s aDOT is 29.8% higher than that of Moore this season).
Courtland Sutton: The SMU product entered this season with 14 touchdown catches in 65 career games, so of course, he has scored in five straight and in eight of 10 games this season.
To be honest, I’m not sure how he continues to do it. He’s seen more than six targets just three times this season and plays for an average offense in terms of PPG, yet he has been productive on a week-in, week-out basis.
The floor is concerningly low (pacing for under 850 receiving yards) should the scoring dry up, and that needs to be considered this week with the low implied total. I have Sutton ranked as my WR30, which happens to be his average positional finish this season.
Jerry Jeudy: We entered the season hoping that Jeudy would prove to be an alpha target earner, but that simply hasn’t been the case. Don’t get me wrong, the fact that he has seen 5-7 targets in eight of nine games is a level of consistency that allows us to evaluate him with confidence, but it’s just not what we expected from Jeudy this season.
He has yet to give us a top-25 performance, and I have him barely inside of my top 50 at the position. He’s averaging a WR47 ranking.
Marvin Mims: Mims participated in 67.6% of dropbacks, and that at least puts him on the radar for deeper leagues. As we approach the end of the fantasy regular season, there are going to be situations in which you are willing to ignore all risk and chase potential. Mims is firmly on that radar.
He doesn’t need to be rostered in most leagues, but if you’re punching above your weight and are a big underdog in a must-win situation, a player like Mims is a live option.
David Njoku: I’m not sure how many people thought Njoku’s target total in Week 11 would be greater than the number of points the Browns scored, but life comes at you fast sometimes.
I don’t think his 36.6% target share is even remotely sticky, but it was encouraging to see Thompson-Robinson looking his way with a level of confidence. Njoku’s 65.2% catch rate this season is underwhelming for a player averaging under 10 yards per catch, and that keeps his floor low without access to much of a ceiling.
That said, the sheer number of targets makes him worth a look, even if those opportunities aren’t layered with potential. Njoku checks in as my TE13 this week — a high-end blobber.
Should You Start Jerome Ford or James Cook?
The efficiency of Ford projects is a problem, but I prefer his consistent work (and goal-line role) over the role of James Cook in a brutal matchup. Both players deserve to be on rosters – it’s the one touchdown on 137 carries from Cook this season that I can’t overlook.
Should You Start Courtland Sutton or DeVonta Smith?
The scoring of Sutton puts him in this class of receiver, but DeVonta Smith’s offense projects much better this weekend and we’ve seen enough in the way of target upside (7+ in three of his past five games) to give him a mean outcome greater than that of Sutton.
If I can avoid the Browns defense or target the Bills, I’m doing it – here, I get to do both!
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