2022 Browns Fantasy Football Preview: Deshaun Watson’s status casts a shadow over everything here

The Browns made a big move this offseason in dealing Deshaun Watson, who did not play last season and remains under investigation by the NFL over multiple sexual misconduct allegations. Until we find out if he will be suspended it remains difficult to know what to make of this team but at this point it seems more than likely they will be without Watson for much if not all of the season.

Review 2021

Recording: 8 – 9 (19)
PPG: 20.5 (20)27.1 (7)
YPG: 340.6 (18)
YPG exist: 195.3 (27)
Rush YPG: 145.4 (4)
PAPG: 30.6 (28)
RAPG: 28.5 (9)

2021 fantasy ends

QB: Baker Mayfield QB25
RB: Nick Chubb RB13, Kareem Hunt RB50
WR: Jarvis Landry* WR51, Donovan Peoples-Jones WR63
TE: David Njoku TE22, Austin Hooper TE24
*Not on the team anymore

Number to know: 1

The number of times Nick Chubb has double-digit fantasy ratings in non-touchdown games this past season. It’s not entirely accurate to say he’s a “touchdown-or-bust” player — and it wouldn’t really be a fair criticism considering how often he scores — but as long as he’s effectively not a factor in passing I’m game, Chubb will rely more on finding the end zone than any other top tier running back in the game.

Which limits both its bottom and ceiling on a weekly and seasonal basis. Could he be a top five running back in the PPR rankings? Yes, probably, but the road to get there is a narrow one — he’d need to stay healthy for every game and probably be in the top two or three in both rushing yards and touchdowns. And even that might not be enough – he was second in rushing yards in just 14 games last season and was RB12 in points per game with a relatively paltry 15.5.

Of course, Chubb is only RB11 in ADP at NFC at the moment, so his price is more than fair for the kind of player he is. There’s room for him to surpass that ADP, but it probably requires him to find the end zone significantly more than last season, and this is where it gets a little difficult for me to justify targeting him in front of the likes of Aaron Jones gain weight. Saquon Barkley or Leonard Fournette. Any of those players could find their way to a dozen touchdowns, arguably just as easily as Chubb — especially when Jacoby Brissett is the starting quarterback for much of the season — and all of them could triple Chubb’s receiving totals.

This matters less in non-PPR formats, although if you felt better about the state of the Browns offense as a whole, you’d feel better overall about Chubb’s big touchdown chances. All in all, towards the end of Round 2, Chubb seems like a rock solid pick, but likely one with little upside potential to become a significant value.

2021 low season

draft picks

3. (68) Martin Emerson, CB
3. (78) Alex Wright, DE
3. (99) David Bell, WR
4. (108) Perrion Winfrey, DT
4. (124) CadeYork, K
5. (156) Jerome Ford, RB
6. (202) Michael Woods, WR
7. (223) Isaiah Thomas, DE
7. (246) Dawson Deaton, OL


QB Deshaun Watson, WR Amari Cooper, WR Jakeem Grant, OL Chris Hubbard, LB Anthony Walker, QB Jacoby Brissett, DE Chase Winovich

lost keys

WR Jarvis Landry, C JD Tretter, DE Jadeveon Clowney, TE Austin Hooper, DE Takkarist McKinley, DL Malik Jackson, CJ Uzomah

Opportunity available

0 carries, 0 RB targets, 168 WR targets, 61 TE targets

2022 preview


Projections by Chris Towers

With Deshaun Watson

QB Deshaun Watson PA: 541, YD: 4115, TD: 30, INT: 14; RUSH – ATT: 85, YD: 299, TD: 5
RB Nick Chub AUTO: 237, YD: 1187, TD: 12, TAR: 27, REC: 23, YD: 196, TD: 1
RB Kareem hunt AUTO: 142, YD: 641, TD: 7, TAR: 60, REC: 50, YD: 394, TD: 2
WR Amari Cooper TAR: 132, REC: 91, YD: 1189, TD: 8
WR Donovan Peoples Jones TAR: 92, REC: 53, YD: 796, TD: 5
WR Anton Schwartz TAR: 51, REC: 33, YD: 452, TD: 2
TE David Njoku TAR: 81, REC: 57, YD: 756, TD: 4

With Jacoby Brissett

QB Jacoby Brissett PA: 510, YD: 3466, TD: 20, INT: 14; RUSH – ATT: 51, YD: 180, TD: 3
RB Nick Chub AUTO: 257, YD: 1236, TD: 10, TAR: 25, REC: 21, YD: 174, TD: 1
RB Kareem hunt AUTO: 154, YD: 695, TD: 6, TAR: 56, REC: 47, YD: 356, TD: 2
WR Amari Cooper TAR: 132, REC: 81, YD: 978, TD: 7
WR Donovan Peoples Jones TAR: 92, REC: 48, YD: 671, TD: 4
WR Anton Schwartz TAR: 51, REC: 33, YD: 440, TD: 2
TE David Njoku TAR: 81, REC: 51, YD: 568, TD: 3

biggest question

Will Deshaun Watson be suspended?

I expect Watson will face some kind of suspension and this is a very different team with Watson in QB against Jacoby Brissett. I also assume that Baker Mayfield will be traded at some point. Amari Cooper has the advantage with Watson top 10 WR, but you can’t drag him in that high until we know how much Watson will play, if at all. Chubb seems like the safest bet here, although even his advantage will be reduced if the Browns’ offense is held back by Brissett. To be honest, this might just be an offense that I’m avoiding until we have some clarity – and as we’re likely to see a protracted battle over which suspension will ultimately be handed down, we might not have that clarity until the season starts .

A sleeper, a breakout and a bust

Peoples-Jones would be a real breakout contender if Watson played a full season, but even with Brissett, he’s someone I’m interested in taking on a late-round flyer. Peoples-Jones flashed as a big-play receiver last season, averaging 17.6 yards per catch, which was the best in the league, and he showed signs of falling midseason over a stretch where he averaged 60 yards on 3.3 catches, Things Out per game, with three touchdowns in six games. It’s unlikely Peoples-Jones will ever be more than a touchdown-or-bust receiver unless that passing game takes a big step forward overall, but the 23-year-old could be a high-profile banker if he breaks out .

With Austin Hooper and his 61 targets out of the way, Njoku looks to step in as the team’s main tight end. He’ll share the field ample with Harrison Bryant, but Njoku should be one of the team’s top passing options, and if he can advance to around 90 goals, there’s a chance he’ll be a viable end-of-season starting option this season is . He’s always had the size and athleticism to make a difference in this position, and while this again remains a relatively low-volume passing attack, it’s not unreasonable to think that Njoku is the No. 2 receiver here with the Could be potential for career highs.

There will almost certainly be someone in your league willing to take a flyer on Watson unless he’s suspended for the whole season, but I’ll be honest I don’t think it makes much sense myself if you want it. He didn’t play last season, he’ll be joining a new team, with players and coaches he’s never played with before and will have to do so while likely having little opportunity to practice much with them while he the ban expires. So you have to tuck a guy on your bench – banned players aren’t IR eligible for most fantasy leagues, and shouldn’t be – who you don’t know is actually still producing at a high level in this new environment can until he proves it. The juice isn’t worth the pressure.

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