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Booms, Busts, Breakouts & Bets: Cleveland Browns

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As the mercury rises and we inch closer to training camp openings, our resident fantasy football aficionados, Brad Evans and Derek Brown, profile their favorite Booms, Busts, Breakouts and Bets for every NFL team. Giddy up, gamers. Today’s topic: The Fightin’ Jim Browns.

Fantasy Football Booms – Browns

Nick Chubb, RB

Chubb is primed to build upon last year’s sizzling stretch run after his return from injury. Chubb boomed weekly, stacking explosive runs in bunches. In Weeks 10-17, he was the RB9 in fantasy points per game (18.4, PPR). His combination of rushing talent and touchdown equity in an offense is rare. In those final eight games, he averaged 91.5 rushing yards and hit paydirt in seven contests. 

Backed by a Cleveland defense that could ascend to top-five territory this year, expect the Browns to pound the rock with regularity. Last season Cleveland had the fifth-highest neutral script rushing rate (47%). Chubb will be fed 20 touches weekly as a top 10 running back in 2021. — Derek Brown

Nick Chubb, RB

Rub-a-dub-dub. Those who pay the hefty cover charge at the Chubb Club should expect nothing but top-notch bottle service behind the velvet rope. The RB, similar to last season, should again pack a hefty buzz. Though a knee injury temporarily derailed his season, he still finished at or near the top of the RB class in yards after contact per attempt (4.06), yards created per touch (3.15) and total breakaway runs (14). Given his entrenched red-zone role and Cleveland’s stalwart offensive line, he’s a strong candidate to push into the position’s top-three. 

How Chubb will be deployed in the pass game will be critical determining his final standing in PPR formats. The coaching staff increased his usage as a receiver down the home stretch, indicative in his 13.3 average routes run per game from Week 12 on. Local reports suggest his growing role as a pass catcher wasn’t an anomaly. If he can consistently haul in 2-3 receptions per game, he may push 1,700-plus combined yards with 12-15 total TDs. — Brad Evans

2021 Fantasy Football Busts – Browns

Odell Beckham, WR

For OBJ, long gone are the days of kicker net marriage proposals and top-10 WR finishes in fantasy. At this point on the career arc, he’s a brand name who churns out generic production. 

In a run-often Cleveland offense (49.3% run rate in 2020) and with formidable competition for targets from former LSU teammate Jarvis Landry, Beckham has slipped into the WR3 class of ADP ranks. It’s justifiable. He’s coming off a major knee injury and, even when on the field last season, posted marginal results in yards per target (7.2, WR86), yards per route run (1.83, WR41) and contested catch rate (WR70). Tee Higgins, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Courtland Sutton, all available at a similar price point, are better options in 12-team drafts. — Brad Evans

Odell Beckham, WR

Since arriving in Cleveland, Odell Beckham has struggled to ever get on the same page with Baker Mayfield. Sadly, it looks like his best days are firmly in the rearview, and it’s hard to remember his former elite stature in the Big Apple. Now entering his age-29 season coming off a major injury, I find myself looking other ways consistently in best-ball drafts. 

In Weeks 1-6, Beckham was the WR27 in fantasy points per game (14.5, PPR) last season, but even that ranking is a false representation. He filled box scores with pedestrian stat lines outside of his 154 total and three-touchdown performance against a terrible Cowboys’ defense. In five other games, he surpassed 59 receiving yards and scored once. Beckham’s current ADP (WR28, 64.8 overall) is based solely on name value. Chase Claypool and D.J. Chark are flying off the draft board within five picks of Beckham and are primed for better seasons. — Derek Brown

Fantasy Football Breakouts for the Browns

Austin Hooper, TE

There’s no denying it’s slim pickings for breakouts on the Browns offense, but I agree with Brad here. Hooper’s role in this offense won’t be overtly sexy, but the production line he has to cross to exceed value is attainable. Before Beckham was sidelined by injury, he was second on the team in target share (20%) and flashed as a valuable red-zone weapon for Baker Mayfield over the season’s final month. In Weeks 15-17, he led the team in red-zone targets (5). With another offseason to build chemistry with Mayfield, Hooper can flirt with top 12-15 fantasy tight end production if everything breaks in his favor. — Derek Brown

Austin Hooper, TE

Admittedly featuring Hooper here is a stretch, but based on his TE21 (173.1 overall) ADP, he’s a viable candidate to exceed perceived draft day value. His 46-435-4 line, off a breakthrough campaign in 2019 with Atlanta, was certainly deflating. Still, he finished No. 8 in target share and No. 14 in contested catch rate at the position. Harrison Bryant and David Njoku will push Baker Mayfield for affections, but Hooper did lead the group in red-zone looks with 14, in 13 games, last year. Stay healthy and he could experience a decent production jump in Year 2 of Kevin Stefanski’s system. — Brad Evans

Best Bets for the Browns 2021

(Use the FTN Prop Shop to uncover the best lines across legal sportsbooks) 

Cleveland Browns to Win the AFC (+750, DraftKings)

The Browns will field an explosive offense and pair it with a defense that could quietly be an elite unit in its own right. With the league’s second-easiest projected schedule, the Browns could find themselves with a first-round bye and knocking on the door of the Super Bowl. — Derek Brown

Cleveland Browns to win the AFC North (+145, DraftKings)

The Ravens are a formidable challenge, but the Browns, after years of ineptitude, are on the cusp of taking another step forward after last year’s playoff appearance. The +145 is a quality wager for those chasing value. — Brad Evans

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