Jarvis Landry or Donovan Peoples-Jones Start/Sit Week 16: Could Browns WRs surprise?

The Cleveland Browns lean on their running game, but could Jarvis Landry and Donovan Peoples-Jones be good options in fantasy this week?

The Cleveland Browns have one of the best running games in the NFL. Nick Chubb is a fantasy football superstar, but Kareem Hunt and even D’Ernest Johnson have excelled at times this season. This success has meant that the passing game is often an afterthought. With a potentially high-scoring game on deck against the Green Bay Packers in Week 16, could the Browns turn to the air? We look at the fantasy potential of wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Donovan Peoples-Jones.

Is Jarvis Landry playing in Week 16?

By his standards, Landry is having a down year. He has just 38 catches on 62 targets for 397 yards and 1 touchdown in nine games. He’s missed five contests with injury, but he’s set to post career lows in all of those categories.

Landry’s skill set has often seen him relied upon as a high-volume option; he’s a slot receiver who excels as a safety net for his quarterbacks. While that can produce a high floor in fantasy football, the lack of big plays hurt. It makes it unlikely that he’ll have those games that can win you fantasy weeks by themselves.

Landry has always been more suited to points per reception (PPR) scoring. Still, the 4.2 receptions per game that he’s averaging is the lowest mark of his career. Moreover, his 10.4 yards per reception is the third-lowest average of his career. This combination means he has just 44.1 receiving yards per game, another career low.

Landry missed the Week 15 game against the Las Vegas Raiders due to COVID-19 protocols but will be available for the Christmas Day showdown barring any further developments.

Donovan Peoples-Jones is having a breakout season

Peoples-Jones has been the direct beneficiary of Odell Beckham Jr.’s departure. He’s established himself as the primary deep threat for the Browns, leading the team in yards per reception, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. Peoples-Jones has only been fourth on the team in targets and catches this season. He’s behind Landry, Austin Hooper, and David Njoku, but he’s proving himself worthy of increased involvement.

With starting quarterback Baker Mayfield and backup Case Keenum sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols, Nick Mullens was thrust into the spotlight against the Raiders. It would ultimately be a losing effort for the Browns, but Peoples-Jones was the focus of the passing game. Mullens targeted the second-year receiver 8 times. While he’ll be frustrated that he didn’t reel in more than 4 of those, it was an encouraging sign for fantasy managers.

The Browns could be in a shootout with the Packers

The Packers have been a middling defense against wide receivers in fantasy football. The Browns’ receivers will be boosted by the expected absence of Jaire Alexander, one of the top cornerbacks in the league. His coverage ability would have had the potential to stymie the passing game significantly.

When the Browns get in the red zone, they tend to look for Landry more often, and he has 7 targets inside the 20 compared to just 2 for Peoples-Jones. Head coach Kevin Stefanski and his offensive staff like to run the ball. When they call for a pass play, though, it’s likely to be to the middle of the field where either Hooper, Njoku, or Landry will be.

Both Landry and Peoples-Jones are risky starts in fantasy football this week. It could be difficult to rely on receiving volume even in a game against the Packers, which they will likely be trailing. If you have advanced this far in the playoffs, you will hopefully have better options.

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