2020 Fantasy Football Cleveland Browns Preview

by Dennis Sosic
2020 Fantasy Football Cleveland Browns Preview

Welcome Fantasy friends and foes to the 2020 Fantasy Football Cleveland Browns Preview presented by Fantasy Six Pack.

As a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan, I live with the agony of being a fan daily and the dysfunction this franchise has exhibited since its return to the NFL in 1999 has been appalling.

The only constant in Cleveland is change. The hiring of Kevin Stefanski as the newest head coach makes it 12 head coaches since the team came back, producing an embarrassing 101-234-1 regular-season record in 21 seasons.

As the Browns fans were entering the 2019 season, there was plenty of optimism about a return to the NFL playoffs in Cleveland. Rather, the team fell flat on their faces. Partly because they believe their hype but more importantly Freddie Kitchens was miscast and overmatched as the head coach.

The Browns struggled and we have a new regime in general manager Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski. Let's discover what the new regime did to improve this team this offseason and what type of Fantasy impact this will have in the 2020 Fantasy Football Cleveland Browns Preview.

2020 Fantasy Football Cleveland Browns Preview

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Baker Mayfield exploded into the NFL in his rookie season in 2018 by passing for 3,725 yards and setting a new rookie passing touchdowns record by throwing for 27 touchdowns. Mayfield guided the previously 1-31 Browns to a 6-7  record as the starter after taking over for Tyrod Taylor.

Heading into the 2019 season, the Cleveland Browns bandwagon was full of Dawg Pound hopefuls as the team attempted to earn their first playoff appearance since 2002. Mayfield spent the majority of his games running for his life behind an abysmal offensive line who could not protect him to the tune of 40 sacks, which was the ninth-worst in the NFL last season. Equally abysmal was head coach Freddie Kitchens who looked overwhelmed.

Mayfield looked uncomfortable and regressed significantly in his sophomore season. The combination of the poor offensive line and even worse play-calling attributed to the considerable regression for Mayfield. He threw 22 touchdowns and a sickening 21 interceptions. An offense with loads of talent couldn't get started or get out of its way.

The 2020 Season Outlook

The Browns look to bounce back with new leadership in Berry and Stefanski. The first step was to upgrade the anemic offensive line. Berry added two tackles in 2020 first-round pick Jedrick Wills Jr. at left tackle and inserting free-agent pickup Jack Conklin at right tackle. The new bookend tackles will be joined in Cleveland by spending massive money on free-agent tight end Austin Hooper, who accounted for 75 catches, 787 yards and six touchdowns with the Atlanta Falcons last season.

The rose-colored glasses are on again with the Browns offense. An upgraded offensive line, new security blanket in tight end Austin Hooper, a healthy and focused (for now) Odell Beckham Jr., and most importantly a new style offense established by Stefanski. His zone style running scheme should make Mayfield's life easier. Stefanski ran an efficient offense that was predicated by the run at the 10th best yard-per-play number (5.8) in the league and play-action. Given the elite surrounding talent, Mayfield's numbers should revert back to his rookie season numbers where he was a top 12 Fantasy quarterback.

Another impactful offseason move was signing Case Keenum to back up Baker Mayfield. Keenum is a journeyman quarterback who knows his role but more importantly, provides superb insurance for the Browns. Keenum will also provide a veteran presence and has a relationship with Stefanski from their time with the Vikings.

Running Backs

Chubb had a tremendous second year in the NFL, starting all 16 games, rushing for 1,494 yards, 36 receptions, 278 receiving yards and a combined eight touchdowns. PFF listed Chubb as the most elusive running back in football, meaning Chubb is the most difficult to bring to the ground. Chubb is one of two backs (Derrick Henry is the other) to average over 4.0 yards after contact per attempt (minimum 100 carries), according to PFF.

Chubb finished as the RB7 last season and was the Browns' best players and a huge reason why the team’s offense will take a big step forward in 2020.

The Browns brass took plenty of heat when they signed Kareem Hunt after his multiple mishaps but he is ultra-talented and proved to be an important piece in this office. In fact, he was third on the team in receptions despite seeing limited actions in eight games. Hunt continued to be more incorporated into the offense but was mainly used in passing situations.

The 2020 Season Outlook

However, there will be changes made to the Browns offense. Kevin Stefanski is taking over as head coach and Alex Van Pelt was hired as his offensive coordinator. The offensive line added two bookend tackles in Wills and Conklin and improved play-calling should provide more scoring opportunities for the Browns offense.

However, the new offensive brain trust has different ideas:

“I think you’d be crazy not to have your most talented guys on the field,” Van Pelt said during an appearance on Cleveland’s 92.3 The Fan radio show. “Whatever package that is. We would be crazy not to put those guys on the field at the same time. Both (are) dynamic as runners, pass-catchers, protectors.”

The addition of Hunt to the Browns offense provided a huge boost to the Fantasy players in the offense except for Chubb, whose production took a dramatic dip with Hunt's arrival. Chubb saw 20 or more carries in five of the first eight games of the season, and never saw fewer than 16. In the second half of the season, Chubb only hit the 20-carry mark on three occasions, and never hit that milestone after Week 12.

Chubb should be selected as low-end RB1 based on his Fantasy production although his numbers will likely take a hit. Hunt has stand-alone value in PPR redraft leagues as your FLEX. In dynasty formats, his stock skyrockets. One Chubb injury and Hunt becomes a Fantasy winning lotto ticket. Hunt will be a free-agent at the end of the season, so Hunt could also be playing for a job elsewhere next season.

Wide Receivers

Odell Beckham Jr. was hindered by injuries all season despite playing in all 16 of his team's games last season. He finished the season with 74 receptions for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns but he was not right physically all season which was originally reported to be a sports hernia injury suffered in training camp.

Jarvis Landry is a consistent receiver and has built chemistry with Baker Mayfield. Landry recorded 83 receptions, career-high 1,174 yards, and six touchdowns last season.

Landry has played in every game of the regular season since joining the NFL in 2014. That streak was tested last season when Landry played the entire 2019 season with an injured hip. Landry underwent hip surgery this offseason and his availability for training camp is in doubt.

The 2020 Season Outlook

I can't wait to see a healthy Beckham in this new offense. His Fantasy redemption happens in 2020. Fantasy managers should make a point to be a part of as I do in our WR rankings.

Fantasy managers should expect a dip int the Fantasy numbers for Jarvis Landry in 2020. A healthy Odell Beckham, new offensive scheme, and his return from injury should provide easy ammunition for his numbers to take a step back from last season. I am avoiding Landry in my upcoming drafts.

Rashard Higgins was resigned by the Browns which was an excellent move. Higgins missed multiple games due to a knee issue, then returned, but had a dispute with then-coach Freddie Kitchens. Kitchens refused to play him for much of the 2019 season. The most unfortunate part is that Higgins seemed to be a favorite target of Baker Mayfield in his rookie season. Higgins will win the Browns third wide receiver job and possesses sneaky Fantasy value.

Donavan People-Jones is a big framed receiver with a wide frame and has potential but there are obvious reasons he lasted until the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He possessed zero Fantasy significance in 2020.

Tight Ends

The Browns went out and signed Pro Bowl tight end Austin Hooper over the offseason to the largest contract for a tight end in the league. Hooper broke out last season, finishing as the No.6 tight end in half-PPR formats. Hooper caught at least six passes in eight of the 13 games he played in last season.

Stefanski's system is custom-built for tight ends to score in the red zone. Even Kyle Rudolph scores six times in this system. Hooper is far more talented than Rudolph which should lead to Hooper surpassing his six touchdown total from last season. However, with the surrounding elite offensive talent, the volume will take a hit which should lower his overall Fantasy numbers in PPR formats.

David Njoku battled injuries after he suffered a concussion and a broken wrist on the same play, seeing action in four games last season. The Browns showed faith in Njoku in picking up his fifth-year option. Njoku is a superb athlete for his size but this a make or break year for the former first-rounder.

The Browns drafted tight end, Harrison Bryant, in the fourth round in the 2020 draft as the former Owl was seen as one of the best tight ends in college football in 2019. Bryant will be incorporated into three tight end sets that Stefanski loves to employ.

Final Verdict

The Cleveland Browns play in the AFC North, which is one of the toughest divisions in the league. However, the Browns have one of the easiest schedules in the 2020 season.

The Browns have all the offensive weapons that a quarterback and the offensive staff could dream of. The defense will be led by the return of Myles Garrett and under new promising defensive coordinator Joe Woods.

The new regime has tried to resurrect a culture decimated by losing. They filled the areas of need and look to bring a winning attitude to Cleveland. The pieces are in place now they just needed to be molded together. Is first-time head coach Kevin Stefanski capable of leading that charge?

2020 Final Verdict: 9-7 record. The Cleveland Browns miss the playoffs but otherwise a successful season as Baker Mayfield becomes the franchise leader and Odell Beckham Jr. reminds everyone why the Browns traded for him.

Visit the F6P Fantasy Football page for more advice to get you prepared for the 2020 season.

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1 comment

2021 Fantasy Football Cleveland Browns Preview - Fantasy Six Pack June 15, 2021 - 10:31 am

[…] my 2020 Fantasy Football Cleveland Browns Preview, I explained how the only constant in Cleveland is change. However, I firmly believe that Cleveland […]


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