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2024 Player Outlooks: Cleveland Browns

By Colby Cavaliere | 7/8/24 |

Deshaun Watson

QB Deshaun Watson
2023 QB Rank - No.37, 17.3 FPts/G

Injuries and ineffectiveness have Watson’s trade and subsequent contract teetering on the historic disaster range. After suffering a shoulder injury that eventually knocked him out for the year, Watson sat and watched a washed-up Joe Flacco lead Cleveland to the playoffs. The Browns have gotten just 16 total touchdowns and 12 games out of their monstrous investment, and it’s clearly now or never for Watson. Cleveland has a solidly built roster that’s ready to win, but will only go as far as Watson can take them. This passing game is flush with weapons after the trade for Jerry Jeudy, although Amari Cooper’s contract situation is something to monitor. It’s been three years since Watson has been an elite player and with damage done both physically and mentally, it’s difficult to believe he can return to his peak Houston days. The weapons, scheme, and situation in Cleveland certainly set him up for fantasy success, but he’s way too much of a risk as anything more than an upside QB2.

RB Nick Chubb
2023 RB Rank - No.87, 9.6 FPts/G

It seems injury was the only thing stopping Chubb, as his string of elite RB1 seasons came to an early end in 2023. Off to another eye-popping start with a 6.1 yards-per-carry average in his first 28 attempts, Chubb suffered a gruesome knee injury in Week 2. No stranger to such setbacks as he suffered something similar in college, Chubb nonetheless is deep into another lengthy and complicated rehab. Career-ending if not for modern medicine, Chubb is the heart and soul of this team, and while there remains no specific timetable for his return, there are few players more equipped to handle the physical and mental toll of the rehab process. If he can manage to avoid the PUP list and participate in some of camp that would be a tremendous sign, but I look for Cleveland to be very patient with his return. It will take some time for the power and explosion to truly return, but he’s most certainly worth the early season stash with an eye on the 2nd half.

RB Jerome Ford
2023 RB Rank - No.20, 9.8 FPts/G

Whether he helped lessen the loss of Chubb, or suddenly gave you an instant season long RB2, Ford saved plenty of fantasy squads in 2023. Though he certainly lacked the consistency and week-winning potential of Chubb, Ford held the running game together even after late season injuries decimated the offensive line. He proved solid in the receiving game as well with 44 receptions, and his 9 total touchdowns gave him plenty of value across the fantasy scoring landscape. It’s going to be quite some time until Chubb returns to full-volume duty, so Ford should be counted on for at least some early season work. The offseason additions of D’Onta Foreman and Nyheim Hines are depth signings, and despite some recent trade rumblings, Ford is an important piece on a win-now team. Worth a mid/late-round pick for his early season value, just be prepared for a diminished role as Chubb returns to form.

WR Amari Cooper
2023 WR No. 16, 10.3 FPts/G

A little touchdown regression knocked him down a few spots in the rankings, but Cooper put up another solid campaign in 2023 with a 72-1250-5 line, despite missing two games. His 11-265-2 Week 16 line likely won plenty of fantasy championships, but the storm clouds are gathering for the 2024 season. Trying to cash in a final time, Cooper enters his age-30 season on the final year of his deal. So far, he’s sat out all of the offseason, including mandatory camp, and there’s a buzz that could continue into late July. The offseason trade for Jerry Jeudy not only puts a damper on Cooper being the lone threat out wide, but also gives the Browns some leverage in negotiations. Missing camp, or “holding in'' is a huge red flag, especially for guys like Cooper who have a history of soft tissue injuries. If things become copacetic between the Browns and Cooper, I’d be happy to trot him out as a solid WR2, but the combination of a lengthy camp absence and addition of Jeudy would present some major reservations, especially at such a deep fantasy position.

WR Jerry Jeudy
2023 WR Rank No. 50, 5.5 FPts/G

Jeudy comes over to the Browns after a disappointing four-year run with Denver. Injuries and inconsistency held him back from being the playmaker the Broncos thought he could be when they made him the 15th overall pick in the 2020 draft. Jeudy is fresh off signing a fairly team friendly three-year contract extension that keeps him hungry to continue to hone his craft. Never a high-volume receiver in Denver, Jeudy is the clear No.2 in this passing game that should see an increase in volume and pace with new OC Ken Dorsey. But there’s a catch. If Cooper’s contract stalemate stretches into a significant part of camp, Jeudy’s value climbs into the WR3 range. If you also believe Watson can return to his former glory, and a tweaking of the passing game opens this offense up, then Jeudy becomes a sneaky value pick. That’s lots of “ifs' ' for a guy who’s been very, as the kids say, ‘mid” in the last four years, and will likely mean he’ll cap out as a rosterable WR4/5 that plugs a hole from time to time.

TE David Njoku
2023 TE Rank No. 5, 7.8 FPts/G

In 2022 the Browns made the head scratching move of making Njoku one of the highest paid tight ends in the league. Clearly Cleveland was paying for what was to come, as Njoku had a career year in 2023 as a lynchpin player on offense. His 123 targets were 3rd among tight ends and his 81 receptions for 882 yards and 6 touchdowns were all career highs by a wide margin. Though he can struggle with inconsistent hands, his elite measurables make him a threat for all levels of the defense. While he was a league winner with Flacco down the stretch of last season, the addition of Jeudy, question marks around Watson and the change of the offense, leave Njoku closer to the bottom of the TE1 pile than the top.

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