CLEVELAND! THIS IS FOR YOU! Ah, yes, Cleveland. It's incredible how much things can change in such a short period of time. Why, just last summer, the Browns were better known as the team that was 1-31 over the previous two seasons (2016-2017). After a 7-8-1 campaign in 2018 and several noteworthy acquisitions in the off season, the Browns look to improve in 2019 and contend for the divisional crown.
This season brings the most hype for Browns' fantasy potential in recent memory as well. Currently two Browns are being drafted at the back end of the first round/beginning of the second, something we haven't seen from this organization in the past. Let's dig deeper into the fantasy outlook for a few of these players.
Baker Mayfield – QB
It's pretty safe to say that Bakermania has been the cause for a lot of the excitement around the Browns heading into this season. The number one overall pick lit the world on fire in 2018 when he took over under center for the Browns mid season. He amassed 3,725 yards and 27 touchdowns in just 13 starts, and with added weapons to the offense, he's considered by many a breakout candidate for 2019.
Baker is currently being drafted in the early to mid sixth round in mock drafts. Although I like Baker to have a solid year, the draft cost is too high for me to recommend Mayfield as a quarterback option. I tend to lean towards taking QB's later in drafts. That being said, I believe in Baker as a competitor and talent and expect him to eclipse 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. If he falls in drafts a few rounds, go ahead and grab him, but I wouldn't expect that to happen.
Nick Chubb – RB
We'll stick on the topic of breakout rookies and talk about Nick Chubb. Fantasy football is a game of opportunity, and Chubb did not miss his once the Browns traded former starter Carlos Hyde to Jacksonville. Chubb never received more than three carries until Hyde's departure after week six. As a rookie he finished the year with just shy of 1000 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns.
Chubb is currently being drafted at the beginning of the second round. However, there are a lot of question marks when it comes to his fantasy outlook. First of all, he didn't prove to be much of a pass catcher. At the time of this writing, Duke Johnson is still a Brown, and if he remains on the team I would expect him to earn a lot of the receiving out of the backfield. Chubb had just 149 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 2018. The Browns also signed Kareem Hunt, who is suspended for the first eight games of the season. I would anticipate head coach Freddie Kitchens will want to have a talent like Hunt involved once he's able to play, which I expect to stunt Chubb's production down the stretch. With the addition of Hunt, Odell Beckham Jr., and returning players like David Njoku and Jarvis Landry, Baker will have a lot of mouths to feed in 2019. Finally, Chubb's overall numbers were inflated a bit by several big plays, which will be hard to duplicate. He's a good back, but I don't think I'll be spending an early second round pick on him this year.
Jarvis Landry – WR
Jarvis Landry is going into his second year in a Browns uniform. If you owned Jarvis last year you probably felt pretty disappointed with him overall production – a career low 81 receptions, 976 yards and only 4 receiving touchdowns. This year he will line up next to his LSU teammate and friend, Odell Beckham Jr. For all who are brave enough to draft Landry in 2019, I expect he will “Bless 'em” with a solid season. Let me explain why.
Jarvis is currently being drafted at the back end of the sixth to early seventh round in mock drafts. More than likely at this point in your draft your taking him as a player you'll fill in your flex position. His draft cost this year is not nearly as high as in previous years, so even if he doesn't have his best statistical season of his career I expect he will still be productive based on his draft cost. I expect him to be able to coexist with proclaimed best friend, Beckham (if the Nike commercial didn't give you all the feels, you have no soul). At LSU in 2013, both receivers accumulated 1152 yards a piece (yes, the same amount for both of them; I said they were best friends, didn't I?) and 18 combined touchdowns (10 for Landry, 8 for Beckham). While Beckham will be the primary target for Baker, I'll still take Landry at his ADP.
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