David Njoku Fantasy Outlook: Should you start the Browns TE?

Just two weeks removed from the best game of his career, should Browns tight end David Njoku be in Week 7 fantasy lineups?

Just two short weeks ago, Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku melted faces on a week where this humble writer declared him “not fantasy-relevant.” Njoku followed up his career-best 7 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown with 1 catch for 6 yards. On a week where fantasy football teams are ravaged by injuries and byes, can fantasy managers start Njoku?

David Njoku has never been a consistent fantasy producer

Njoku is still just 25 years old, but if you feel like he’s been in the NFL forever, that’s because he kind of has. The athletic tight end is in his fifth season but has yet to establish himself as a reliable fantasy option.

In 2018, Njoku posted his best fantasy campaign, averaging 9.6 PPR points per game. Many fantasy analysts thought it might be the precursor to a breakout. I can’t say I was ever among that group. I will get my fair share of analyses wrong, but I just never saw it with Njoku. Every once in a while, he’ll perform as he did in Week 5, but he always seems to fade back into obscurity.

Even in a week with six teams on a bye and injuries galore, David Njoku is not a fantasy starter

In 55 career games, Njoku has finished as a fantasy TE1 just 10 times. Half of them came in his 2018 “breakout” season. Since 2019, Njoku has been a TE1 exactly twice — Week 1 of the 2020 season and the aforementioned game from two weeks ago.

In the very next week following his overall TE2 performance in Week 5, Njoku played a season-low 42% of the snaps and saw his routes run cut nearly in half.

Njoku may not be fully healthy

Although Njoku hasn’t missed a game this season, he’s been limited in practice for the past several weeks due to a knee injury. Regardless of whether he appears on the Week 7 injury report, he will play on Thursday Night Football against the Broncos. But with all due respect to Njoku, fantasy managers have no use for a seldom-targeted, banged-up TE on an offense led by a backup quarterback.

Should fantasy managers start Njoku this week?

The answer to this one? Definitively no. Is it possible Njoku makes me look foolish by having another one of his random spike games? Of course. This is fantasy football. Anything can happen. All we can do is make decisions based on what is most likely to occur.

Outside of a small stretch in 2018, Njoku has never been a fantasy-relevant tight end. Through six weeks of the 2021 season, that hasn’t changed. On a short week with Case Keenum starting in place of an injured Baker Mayfield, fantasy managers can undoubtedly do better than Njoku. Leave him on the waiver wire.

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here. Don’t forget to listen to the PFN Fantasy Football podcast and check out our free fantasy newsletter.