Thursday Night Football 9/22/22
Steelers @ Browns
Browns -4, o/u 38
Everyone is fully aware of the Browns’ game plan for tonight and the entire season…a heavy dose of the running game with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The Chubb & Hunt show will be in full effect with the weather cooling off a bit, the wind picking up, a low line set for the total, and a struggling Steelers offense. The questions in this game will be can Pittsburgh slow down the running game and can Mitchell Trubisky continue to exploit this bad secondary? Did the Browns team meeting help and allow them to figure it out at home?
Weather in Cleveland: 55 Degrees with 15-20 MPH winds
Key Injuries: Clowney – OUT; Bryant – QUESTIONABLE
- Chubb – Priced high for a reason. Will easily see 15- 20 carries in a close game that they will rely on him to get the W. Who will get in the endzone, him or Hunt?
- Diontae – Maintained his consistency, even with Trubisky. 22 targets through two weeks, compiling six and seven catches in the first two games. He hasn’t scored yet, but he draws a great matchup and is Trubisky’s favorite option, drawing 30% of the team’s targets. The Browns have given up big numbers on the outside this year, so I expect him to do the same.
- Najee – He hasn’t looked great and hasn’t surpassed 50 yards rushing in either of his first two games. Harris had two massive games against the Browns last year, so the narrative is there for him. The Jets didn’t have to run much with all of their success in the air, but Hall/Carter combined for 73 yards last week against the Browns.
- Trubisky – Everyone wants to see Trubisky stink it up tonight, so the Steelers will make the switch to Pickett. I think this will allow him to be low owned and if there was a time to shine, it would be against this Browns defense, which is allowing a league worst 12.9 yards per completion, which comes against the likes of Baker Mayfield and Joe Flacco. Trubisky has definitely struggled and it is tough to get on his bandwagon, but this is a good matchup and there is plenty of talent at the receiver position.
- Cooper – Slow start in week 1, but a huge game in week 2 in a shootout with the Jets. I think this game will be much slower paced, and Pittsburgh’s corners aren’t terrible. Brissett has an o/u of 16.5 completions, and when you factor in both running backs and both tight ends, there aren’t many other completions to go around, so I think Cooper’s upside is limited. His floor is safe with four or five catches for 50 yards.
- Hunt – 15 touches in each of his first two games. He didn’t score last week, but still filled up the stat sheet. His price is reasonable for that amount of volume. Harris and Stephenson both had success against the Steelers’ DST, last week as did Joe Mixon in week 1. Coming off of a short week, I think we can expect even more of Hunt. He can be used alone or paired with Chubb as well.
- Brissett – 22 completions in week 2, 18 in week 1, which included one touchdown pass in each game. When you factor in catches to running backs and tight ends, there aren’t many completions to go around. He does have rushing upside, including goal line QB sneaks.
- Freiermuth – 17 TARGETS and nine catches in two games. He has been on the field for 104 of 122 snaps. He also has two red zone targets that resulted in one TD. In a game projected to be mainly on the ground, Trubisky will turn to him as a safety blanket in a prime matchup. The Browns gave up six catches for 40 yards last week to Ty Conklin and two catches for 53 yards to Ian Thomas week 1. His over 35.5 receiving yards is very appealinggggg. I like him a lot tonight: Captain spot, over catches, over yards, and to score a TD.
- Claypool – Back to back games with six targets and four catches. He has also led the receivers each week with 92% of the snaps. Primarily playing in the slot this year and I think those numbers will be similar tonight. As you’ll read in the Browns’ DST writeup below, the Browns have given up 100 yards in back to back weeks, but to outside receivers Robbie Anderson and Garrett Wilson, and Corey Davis even had 83 yards. I also think he will receive a couple rushes as the Steelers asked him to stretch the field a few times in week 1 and the Jets asked Berrios to do this twice against the Browns last week.
- Peoples-Jones – Seeing a ton of playing time and will be on the field about 80% of the time. With the Steelers selling out to stop the run, he could see some chances as well. He had a very promising week 1 with six catches for 60 yards on 11 targets before his goose egg last week. This was the case last year as well and he is very difficult to trust.
- Njoku – 89% of the snaps in week 1 and 94% of the snaps in week 2. Had three catches for 32 yards on five targets last week, which included a fade in the endzone that he caught, but his foot was just out of bounds. With Bryant listed as questionable, you can expect another 90% of snaps.
- Pickens – The rookie wide receiver hasn’t done much this season, but he is on the field a lot and only $4,800 on DK. He played 71% of the snaps in week 1 and 85% in week 2. Not only is he playing a lot of snaps, but he has a 21.5 yard average on his depth of target, which is second in the league. He only has six targets, but he is a deep play threat and the Browns have given up a bunch these first two weeks. I can certainly see Pickens catching a deep ball for his first TD tonight.
- Steelers DST – Huge difference without TJ Watt, going from seven sacks in week one to zero in week two. Their safeties are talented, and their corners are decent, although they didn’t grade well last week. Ahkello Witherspoon allowed a 48% passer rating in 2021, which was fourth lowest at corner. He was burnt last week, but had perfect coverage, and was outplayed on a jump ball by Nelson Agholor. Witherspoon also had to deal with Chase a lot in week 1.
- Bryant – Listed as questionable. He has played less than 50% of the snaps in both games so far, however he has received four targets in each of the first two games one of them in the red zone.
- York – The rookie has proven himself with a 58 yarder in week 1. He did miss an XP last week, but in a low scoring game, long field goals could be key.
- Boswell – Very much in play as he already has five made field goals in two weeks, including made field goals of 50+ each week.
- Browns DST – Clowney is OUT and this defense has already given up 55 points, which already called for a players-only meeting. They are at home against a struggling QB in Trubisky. There was a lot of miscommunication in this secondary last week and a lot of blaming each other. This defense has a great pass rush, but their coverage has not been good across the board.
- Pickett – Tomlin wants Pickett to sit for a while, but if this offense struggles with Trubisky again, he might be forced to put him in. The Browns’ defense got ripped by Flacco and Mayfield, so if Trubisky can’t be somewhat effective here, I think it will be clear he is the problem. There are a couple game scripts that might find him in the game – a close game and the Steeler offense looking terrible, or if the Browns get a big enough lead.
- Warren – He will be on the field for about ⅓ of the game, compared to Najee’s ⅔’s. His usage is the problem, only having three rushes in week 1 and four in week 2. At only $3,200 on DK, he could be the final piece of your lineup.
- Bell – The rookie out of Purdue is actually playing more than Schwartz and is much cheaper. Recorded his first career catch last week and continues to be trending ahead of Schwartz.
- Schwartz – Played only 12 snaps last week compared to Bell’s 20.
- Forristall– With Jesse James out and Bryant questionable, the ‘Bama grad might be activated and at a min price.
Must Have: Chubb
Secondary: Diontae, Trubisky, Freiermuth, Hunt, Najee
Value: Pickens, Bell
Less Of: Brissett, Claypool, Cooper
Prediction: Steelers 20-16
- Freiermuth, Trubisky, Johnson, Chubb
- Johnson, Trubisky, Harris, Hunt
- Chubb, Hunt, Johnson
- Pickens, Johnson, Trubisky, Chubb/Hunt
- Pickens, Harris, Trubisky
- Chubb, Hunt, Brissett, Johnson
- Freiermuth, Pickens, Trubisky
Milli Maker Ideas:
- Fade Chubb and his high ownership with the idea that Pittsburgh is able to slow down the run.
- Fade Diontae with the idea that Pittsburgh is successful elsewhere in passing game.
- Captain York with the idea that Cleveland is able to move the ball with Chubb and Hunt, but unable to cash in on touchdowns.
- Captain Pickens hoping he catches a deep ball with this porous secondary.
- Add a couple of lineups with Pickett, as it seems the QB switch is only a matter of time.