2023 Cleveland Browns Team Preview

Jun 12th 2023

Hayden Winks

The Cleveland Browns finally have a shot to make some serious noise, and we can draft them all on Underdog Fantasy with promo code 'UNDERBLOG' to match your first deposit up to $100. We have the biggest fantasy football tournament of all time ($15M) right now.

2022 Cleveland Browns Advanced Stats

Aside from the 31st-ranked rushing EPA defense and being 26th in penalty yards, the Browns' biggest issues as a team were with their downfield passing. They were 24th in big plays through the air and were 26th in deep-target catch rate. Deshaun Watson, if he's right, should solve this. If not, this win now roster is going to get people fired. A lot is on the line this year, but they have a AFC contending ceiling if things go their way.

2023 Cleveland Browns Starting Lineups

3-WR Sets (17th in snaps, 62% of snaps)

  • WR: Amari Cooper --> David Bell

  • WR: Donovan Peoples-Jones --> Cedric Tillman (R)

  • SLOT: Elijah Moore --> Marquise Goodwin

  • TE: David Njoku --> Jordan Akins

2-WR Sets (17th in snaps, 26% of snaps)

  • WR: Amari Cooper --> Cedric Tillman

  • WR: Elijah Moore vs. Donovan Peoples-Jones

  • SLOT TE: David Njoku --> Harrison Bryant

  • INLINE TE: Jordan Akins

RB Usage (10th in expected half PPR)

  • GOAL LINE: Nick Chubb --> Jerome Ford

  • PASSING DOWN: Nick Chubb --> Jerome Ford

Offensive Line (extremely good)

  • LT: Jedrick Wills (average returning starter)

  • LG: Joel Bitonio (great returning starter)

  • C: Ethan Pocic (solid returning starter)

  • RG: Wyatt Teller (great returning starter)

  • RT: Jack Conklin (solid returning starter)

2023 Cleveland Browns Fantasy Preview

Deshaun Watson was rusty and fell into some bad weather luck in his six starts. Three of them came in sub-35 degree weather. He at least averaged 7.0 YPA in the other three starts. His pre-Browns career YPA is 8.3, so no matter how we slice it, Watson wasn't the same. He claims a lot of it was due to poor timing with his receivers, but Watson also set career highs in time to throw, pressure-to-sack rate, and throwaway pass rate, meaning he was holding onto the ball too long in general. He looked a bit puzzled and opted for uncharacteristic checkdowns (7.9 aDOT). A lot of these issues seem fixable with more reps this offseason, especially because I trust coach Kevin Stefanski and this elite OL that returns all five starters. Watson's rushing numbers (29.2 yards on 6.0 attempts) were in line with his career, so his fantasy upside remains quite high.

Amari Cooper set a career high in average depth of target (13.3), helping him lead to a WR13 finish in fantasy points over replacement per game. He did so despite the Browns only averaging 6.3 YPA. If Watson rebounds, Cooper has top-12 potential. If he doesn't, the 29-year-old still looks like he's in his prime following a 2.1 yards per route run season... Elijah Moore was traded for a 2nd-to-3rd round pick swap. He'll slide into the slot in 3-WR sets, especially after OTA reporting suggested that Moore is the manufactured touch WR in this offense. That's how he was used at Ole Miss, when he averaged over 10 grabs per game. Moore was the 65th overall player in 2021 (1.8 YPRR) on a bad Jets team, then busted last year (0.9 YPRR) after battling with coaches. He was able to win on the outside as a rookie, so Moore could leap Donovan Peoples-Jones (career 1.5 YPRR) for 2-WR set snaps. Whoever wins that battle will have flex consideration. DPJ is a deep threat outside receiver with speed, who will have to hold off 3rd-round rookie Cedric Tillman. Initial reports on Tillman have been positive (and we liked his tape), so the receivers behind Cooper are unsettled to say the least.

David Njoku is one of my favorite players. In his five games before his injury, he averaged a 6-76-0.2 receiving line, and Njoku still managed 5+ targets in 11-of-13 games despite playing through ailments and a balanced offense. Njoku stands to benefit with Watson's projected rebound, too. He saw 29% of the Browns' red zone targets, leading all TEs. A TE8 per-game finish last year is the starting point for what could be a career year... Jordan Akins and Harrison Bryant round out the depth chart. It's one of the best in the NFL.

Nick Chubb was the RB6 and 15th overall player last year. This offense has more upside, and Kareem Hunt stole a not nice 6.9 expected touchdowns while mixing in at the goal line. Hunt's absence gives Chubb outs to far more receptions, too. In 2019 when Hunt was suspended, Chubb paced for 53 catches. And over the last two years, Chubb's dropped just 1.7% of his targets. For the first time in his career, Chubb has a path to the RB1 overall... Jerome Ford is the current No. 2 RB, and The Athletic believes there's no urgency to upgrading the depth. Ford has a pro style background dating back to Alabama and Cincinnati, and he has the size (5'11/220) to handle a full workload if he's ever called upon. We liked his rookie tape on a very small sample, too.

2023 Cleveland Browns Fantasy ADPs

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  • RB6 Nick Chubb (18.2 overall) --> BUYING

  • WR18 Amari Cooper (34.6) --> Mixing in

  • QB9 Deshaun Watson (84.0) --> Buying

  • WR46 Elijah Moore (89.9) --> Mixing in

  • TE9 David Njoku (103.6) --> Buying

  • WR72 Donovan Peoples-Jones (160.8) --> Mixing in

  • RB52 Jerome Ford (167.6) --> Buying