Nick Chubb
Season Long – All Sports

2023 Cleveland Browns Outlook

2023  Cleveland Browns Outlook The 2023 NFL season is right around the corner and that means fantasy football drafts are underway. Before you assemble your championship dynasty, redraft, or high-stakes squad, FullTime Fantasy members will have an in-depth, player-by-player preview […]

2023  Cleveland Browns Outlook

The 2023 NFL season is right around the corner and that means fantasy football drafts are underway. Before you assemble your championship dynasty, redraft, or high-stakes squad, FullTime Fantasy members will have an in-depth, player-by-player preview of all 32 teams from football legend Shawn Childs.

Also, check out Jody Smith’s NFL offensive line rankings and exclusive 2023 Strength of Schedule analysis.

Up next in our extensive NFL and fantasy football preview series is Shawn’s deep dive into the 2023 Cleveland Browns Outlook.

— Quarterback —

Deshaun Watson

Over his final three seasons with the Texans, Watson went 25-22 with two winning years (11-5 and 10-5). His completion rate (68.7) and yards per pass attempt (8.3) were exceptional, but he ranked below the league average in pass attempts per game (32.9). Watson had his best fantasy season in 2020 (led the NFL in passing yards – 4,823) while delivering 36 combined touchdowns. He was active in the run game from 2018 to 2020 (99/551/5, 82/413/7, and 90/44/3). His most significant obstacle to success came via sacks (62, 44, and 49) during this span.

The Browns ranked poorly in passing attempts (539 – 19th, 501 – 28th, 520 – 28th, and 540 – 21st) and passing yards (3,847 – 22nd, 3,701 – 27th, 3,619 – 27th, and 3710 – 23rd) over the past four seasons. 

Watson wasn’t worth the investment by Cleveland last season, putting their coaching staff on the hit seat in 2023 if they don’t make the playoffs. He had 31 or fewer passes in five of his starts, leading to fewer than 170 yards passing in four games and only two matchups with more than one score. Watson held form in the run game (36/175/1) but had weakness in his completion rate (58.2 – 67.8 over his previous 1,748 pass attempts) and yards per pass attempt (6.5 – 8.3 before 2022).

Fantasy Outlook: Cleveland upgraded their wide receiving corps in the offseason by trading for Elijah Moore and drafting Cedric Tillman. Amari Cooper (78/1,160/9), Donovan Peoples-Jones (61/839/3), and David Njoku (58/628/4) played well in 2022, giving Watson plenty of firepower to move the ball. His career path suggests that 4,500 combined yards and 30 touchdowns are a reasonable floor. If Tillman and Moore play well, Watson should beat his early draft ranking at quarterback (9th).

Dorian Thompson-Robinson

Over his 49 games in college, Thompson-Robinson passed for 10,695 yards with 88 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. He helped his value with his production (471/1,828/28) on the ground. His completion rate (69.6) moved to an elite area in his senior year at USC. Thompson-Robinson scored 39 times in 2022 with a combined 3,801 yards over 13 starts.

Other Options: Joshua Dobbs, Kellen Mond

— Running Backs —

Other than rushing attempts (450), the Browns’ running backs regressed in rushing yards (2,104), yards per rush (4.7), touchdowns (18), catches (67), receiving yards (464), and targets (88) from 2021. Their backs gained a combined 2,568 yards, leading to 25.4 FPPG in PPR formats. Cleveland should run the ball well over 500 times this year, but Deshaun Watson will steal touchdowns and many carries.

Nick Chubb

Over five seasons with the Browns, Chubb has been a phenomenal running back based on his yards per rush (5.2, 5.0, 5.6, 5.5, and 5.0). He was a workhorse back in 2019 (334 touches), leading to 1,772 combined yards with eight touchdowns and 36 catches. 

Chubb missed seven games in 2020 and 2021 while also losing touches to a second rotational back. He averaged 17.7 touches in 2021 (17.2 in 2020) while ranking him 13th in running back scoring (216.30) in PPR formats. Surprisingly, Chubb was a much better player on the road (810 combined yards with six touchdowns and 11 catches over seven games). He gained more than 100 yards rushing in five matchups (once at home).

Last season, Chubb posted the best year of his career (282.40 fantasy points – 6th), leading to new tops in rush attempts (302), rushing yards (1,525), and touchdowns (13). He gained more than 100 combined yards in 11 games, with seven of those outcomes coming over the first eight games. His season ended with no rushing scores over six consecutive matchups when Deshaun Watson took over at quarterback. Cleveland gave him less than half of their running back pass-catching opportunity (27/239/1).

Fantasy Outlook: With Kareem Hunt off the roster, Chubb looks poised to push his stats higher. His ceiling will remain limited in the passing game, and Deshaun Watson will snip some rushing scores. On the positive side, a better quarterback should lead to more offense by the Browns. Let’s shoot for 350 touches for 1,850 yards with 14 scores and 30 catches. Chubb is the seventh-ranked running back selected in the early draft season in the high-stakes market.

Jerome Ford

Cleveland added Ford in the fifth round in 2021 after having his best season (215/1,319 with 21 catches for 220 yards and one score) in college. He had a limited opportunity over his first three years (696 combined yards with 11 touchdowns and ten catches). 

His speed is better than the league average at the running back position. Ford runs with an upright style with the ability to sidestep defenders and break tackles. He will take what the defense will give him while having the gear to finish long runs with scores if given a lane. With more experience, Ford will develop into a better runner.

Fantasy Outlook: The backup running back position is up for grabs in 2023. Ford is the front-runner to take over the Kareem Hunt role in the Browns’ offense…


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