Does Deshaun Watson Rebound To Be A QB1? | 2024 Cleveland Browns Fantasy Football Draft Guide

by Dennis Sosic
Does Deshaun Watson Rebound To Be A QB1?

Does Deshaun Watson rebound to be a QB1? What should fantasy managers expect from Nick Chubb, Jerome Ford, and the Browns backfield? How will the arrival of Jerry Jeudy affect Amari Cooper? The answers to those questions and more can be found in this 2024 Cleveland Browns Fantasy Football Draft Guide.

Last season, Cleveland Browns fans watched the Browns win 11 games and clinch a playoff spot despite losing significant players, including starting quarterback Deshaun Watson, bell cow running back Nick Chubb, and its top three tackles. Additionally, Cleveland was forced to start five quarterbacks due to injuries like P.J. Walker and rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson behind center.

The 2023 season was highlighted by a Browns defense that dominated most of the season, with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz scheming to stymie offenses. However, the defense looked lost and confused in the crushing 45-14 loss to the Houston Texans in the wild-card round. Also, we saw Joe Flacco's career resurgence come to an abrupt end, with two interceptions returned for scores.

Optimism is in the air in Cleveland for the 2024 season with the hopeful returns of Deshaun Watson and Nick Chubb and the addition of wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.

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Does Deshaun Watson Rebound To Be A QB1?

The Cleveland Browns have received a minimal return on the ridiculous trade and contract with the Houston Texans. However, now the Browns are stuck with Deshaun Watson, who has yet to remotely play up to his expectations, let alone his massive contract.

Watson missed 11 games last season after suffering a fractured shoulder socket and a partially torn labrum. The Browns did not sign up for his performance in the six games either. In those six games, Watson threw for 1,115 yards, seven touchdowns, and four interceptions while competing 61.4 percent of his passes while posting an 845 passer rating. The Browns did post a 5-1 record in those starts, but that had more to do with their dominating defense than with any effective play of Watson.

Watson will get every chance to try to regain the type of performance he experienced with the Texans. However, it is a challenge to see Watson pull it all together and regain that form at this point. Also, it's hard to see the upside for fantasy managers to plunge with Watson. The Browns also needed to secure a Watson clone to back up Watson with veteran journeyman Jameis Winston so the offense concepts would not be forced to be adjusted. Watson will return as a bottom-tier quarterback in 2024.

What to expect from Nick Chubb, Jerome Ford, and the Browns' backfield?

The expectation is that we will see Nick Chubb sometime this season. However, will Chubb reach the level of finishing a top ten running back as he reached for five consecutive seasons? Chubb suffered a catastrophic injury to his left ACL, MCL, and meniscus in Week 2 last season. The uncertainty surrounding Chubb creates a muddled Browns backfield.

Jerome Ford was not an awful backup plan. He stepped into a role that saw the Cincinnati product rush 204 times for 813 yards and four touchdowns last year, along with 44 receptions for 319 yards and five scores. Regardless of Chubb's status, Ford should at least be involved in the receiving game in his third NFL season, especially with the Browns choosing not to resign Kareem Hunt this offseason. Hunt led the team with nine rushing touchdowns. Instead, the Browns signed D'Onta Foreman as a depth piece behind Ford and insurance for the hopeful return of Chubb.

The preliminary rehab reports of Chubb look promising. It is hard to doubt Chubb, but he has a long road ahead. His return would create excitement for fantasy managers. Jerome Ford is a sneaky pick and should not be ignored in your fantasy drafts. And if Chubb doesn't return to form, Ford would return fantastic value with extreme upside, especially considering that he finished as the RB17 last season. Foreman would be a dart throw selection if all else fails or if you roster Chubb/Ford as an insurance selection.

How will the arrival of Jerry Jeudy affect Amari Cooper?

Amari Cooper is a hot topic among fantasy analysts. He has plenty of naysayers, but he just posted a career-high of 1,250 receiving yards and 17.4 yards per catch last season. Cooper achieved those numbers with an unstable quarterback situation, including assisting Joe Flacco's career revival with three scores across four games. Cooper continues to be criminally underrated after finishing as the WR18 last season.

Elijah Moore was expected to emerge as the WR2 opposite Cooper but has never emerged as a threat from the slot position. Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski moved Moore around in different spots. However, Moore continued to disappoint and did not impact the offense or the fantasy radar.

The Browns decided to get help at wideout by adding Jerry Jeudy this offseason by sending 2024 fifth and sixth-round picks to the Denver Broncos. Jeudy is a former first-round pick who regressed to 758 receiving yards and two touchdowns last season. Jeudy has failed to reach 1,000 yards or more than six receiving scores across his first four NFL seasons. He is still only 25 years old and has the opportunity to revive his career in Cleveland opposite Cooper in the WR2 role while pushing Moore into the better-suited WR3 role.

During the season's final month, we saw the emergence of second-year wideout David Bell. Bell produced 16 receptions for 176 yards and three scores across the last five games, including the wild-card loss to the Texans. Seeing Bell climb the depth chart over Moore would not be surprising.

Rounding out the Browns receivers are sophomore Cedric Tillman and rookie wideout Jamari Thrash, who will compete for snaps and will compete with Bell and Moore for touches outside of Cooper and Jeudy.

The success of these wideouts will hinge on Deshaun Watson rebounding from his struggles since arriving in Cleveland. This is a crowded wide receiver room, but Cooper is the alpha, while the other wideouts compete with wide-open prospects, including Jeudy, hoping to play up to his potential.

Will David Njoku repeat as a TE1 in 2024?

David Njoku was a Fantasy football league winner for Fantasy Managers last season. Njoku finished as the TE6 in average weekly fantasy points scored. The former Hurricane spiked with the arrival of Joe Flacco, who had a career resurgence after taking over behind the center for the Browns. Njoku was the TE1 for Weeks 14-17, with Flacco slinging the ball to the tune as the QB2 during that same four-game stretch.

In contrast, Njoku was TE12 before Flacco took over as the fifth quarterback for the Browns last season. Deshaun Watson returns as the Browns' starter next season, and this duo combined for only one touchdown in five games. As mentioned, Watson looked abysmal last season, and there is hope for more efficient play, but the connection did not come to fruition.

The Browns' offense will be more diversified with Jerry Jeudy's addition and the possible return of Nick Chubb. Given these factors, seeing Njoku repeat as a TE1 next season will be challenging.

Final Thoughts

The Cleveland Browns have prime fantasy targets for fantasy managers. Of course, most eyes will be on the return of Nick Chubb. His comeback opens up and completes the Browns' offense. When do you take a plunge with Chubb in your drafts? However, the backup plan with Jerome Ford has a high upside and the type of draft investment that propels your rosters to playoff contender.

Deshaun Watson's required career resurgence is just as crucial as Chubb's return. Watson has struggled in Cleveland, and his play with the Houston Texans looks nothing like his. The Browns need Watson to be impactful, but he has been more of a distraction. The best strategy is to avoid Watson in your fantasy drafts.

The latest news from the Browns' camp is that Amari Cooper is holding out from camp as he seeks a new contract. His WR1 role in the Browns' offense suits him very well, and he has the juice to open up this offense. Jeudy comes to Cleveland to resurrect his career after being a massive disappointment in Denver. Elijah Moore is playing in the final year of his rookie contract and has not developed since his rookie season. Cedric Tillman and David Bell have exhibited potential, with Bell standing out at the end of the season and in the playoffs. David Njoku is coming off a career season. Fantasy managers should never pay for the draft capital of career seasons.

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