Cleveland Browns Fantasy Football Sleeper, Breakout & Bust

The Cleveland Browns were supposed to break out of it last year. They were supposed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. That didn’t happen. The Cleveland Browns were supposed to not be the league’s laughing stock anymore. That didn’t happen. Also, the Cleveland Browns were supposed to be a fount of fantasy football value. And guess what… that didn’t happen! Fast forward to 2020 and we have a new head coach and a new outlook on the squad for 2020, but what does that mean for fantasy football? Who is their best sleeper, breakout, and bust candidate for the upcoming season?

Sleeper – Kareem Hunt, Running Back (RB29, 76 overall)

While you generally can’t see a guy going inside the top-100 as a sleeper, this is my article. If you want to write about Damion Ratley, you go right ahead. He, like Jarvis Landry below, is a guy who has done it before, hasn’t forgotten how to do it, and yet has us all thinking he can’t do it again? Sure, questions abound for the Cleveland Browns this year. They have a new head coach with Kevin Stefanski, who is very running back-friendly, but that doesn’t mean that he will be friendly to running backs! Wait, yes it does. The Kevin Stefanski offense is built around getting the running back plenty of quality opportunities. While Nick Chubb is the lead back in the room, Kareem Hunt didn’t forget how to play football after he was a consensus top-five pick in 2018 (his looming suspension pushed him down in 2019).

The 2019 iteration of the Browns used Kareem Hunt as an air back, with him overlapping with Nick Chubb on a lot of plays. Hunt played on at least 54% of plays in every game he played last season, averaging 60% of plays. Chubb, in comparison, played on 64% of plays. That creates plenty of opportunities for the backs. In these games, Hunt ranked as a top-24 running back in HPPR leagues. Right now, he is going well behind that. Snapping up Kareem Hunt as your third or fourth running back is one of the smartest things to do this draft season.

Breakout – Jarvis Landry, Wide Receiver (WR31, 70 overall)

It’s always been Jarvis Landry. It always has and always will be. Jarvis Landry is perpetually going outside the top-20 at wide receiver over his career. Since 2015, his ADP has been: WR21, WR20, WR31, WR22, WR32. He ended those years as WR5, WR20, WR12, WR24 and WR13. That’s right, last year he was wide receiver thirteen, with the Browns collapsing around him. Every single year we do this to Jarvis Landry, and every single year, he turns in a top-24 season at wide receiver. Literally, every single season.

He’s dealing with a hip surgery recovery right now, but he’s expected to be ready for the regular season when it’s ready, and the latest news from Kevin Stefanski is that Jarvis Landry is “looking great.” It’s hard to call Jarvis Landry a breakout, given that he’s done this every single year. But it’s worth highlighting that he’s done this every single year. And by this, I mean “outperform his ADP.” He’s an easy third wide receiver to slide on into your rosters that should give you WR2 upside on a week-to-week basis.

Bust – Austin Hooper, Tight End (TE10, 88 overall)

The Cleveland Browns backed up the Brinks truck for Hooper this offseason, making him the highest-paid tight end in NFL history. He should be in line for a ton of targets… after Odell Beckham, and after Jarvis Landry, and maybe after Kareem Hunt. Oh, and he has to share those TE targets with David Njoku.

Austin Hooper’s calling card in Atlanta was always his target volume, averaging 6.4 targets per game in the last two seasons, the fourth-most among tight ends (behind Ertz, Kittle & Kelce). His per-target statistics haven’t been anything to write home about. They’ve been good, but not great, ranking between eighth and eleventh in yards per route run, fantasy points per target, and touchdown rate. He has the second-best hands of any tight end by his true catch rate.

The question, once again, comes down to targets. Kevin Stefanski had the tenth-highest target rate to tight ends last season as the Minnesota Vikings’ OC. But, given that Stefanski’s approach is to run first, ask questions second, and pass third, that amounted to just 105 targets to tight ends last year (18th). That’s not exciting, especially when you consider that he’ll be splitting said targets with David Njoku. Njoku and Hooper will run into the Brate-Howard problem down in Tampa Bay: there are a good amount of targets, they are split evenly, and neither person matters for fantasy football. I’m not investing in that with a top-ten tight end pick.


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About Jeff Krisko

You can follow me on twitter, @jeffkrisko for the same lukewarm takes you read here.

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