Cleveland Browns 2021 Fantasy Preview

Cleveland Browns

2020 Record: 11-5

2021 Over/Under: o/u 10.5

2021 Divison Odds : +140

2021 Super Bowl Odds: +1400

As you prepare for the fantasy season, whether it be your home league, a big money squad or with us at Champions Round, we want you to be as prepared as possible heading into the season. And most of all we want to see you win! 

The Browns come into the 2021 season with legitimate expectations, one of the best rosters in the league and without drama. Cleveland is back! Someone call Sonny Weaver Jr.! 

The offense, led by one of the best offensive lines in football and the best 1-2 punch at running back in the league, should find success once again this year. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are fantastic backs on their own, but running behind that offensive line makes them even more special. Baker Mayfield came into his own in the second half of the season last year, even without Odell Beckham Jr. This may not end up being the most dynamic offense in the league, but they should dominate on the ground and in time of possession. 

The defense is much improved and I thought the Browns really cleaned up in free agency. You can tell this is a well run team by the players they brought in and how they drafted. There’s a legitimate shot the Browns could win the Super Bowl this season if everything breaks right and Mayfield takes his game to the next level.

There are some reasons for concern, though. The Browns went 11-5 last year despite having a negative point differential. That simply doesn’t happen and teams that experience that sort of luck usually have some regression. The Browns could be a much better team this year and end up with a worse record. Still, the Browns are a playoff caliber team.

Champions Round “JUICE” Projections

2021 Expected Record: 10-7

2021 Expected Points Per Game: 27.1

2021 Expected Points Allowed Per Game: 22.9

QB

Baker Mayfield - Rank: QB20

JUICE Projections: 353-566 Passing, 64% Completion, 4025 Passing Yds., 29 TD, 12 INT; 148 Rushing Yds, 1 Rush TD

Mayfield found a great rhythm towards the end of the 2020 season. Will he be able to continue it with Beckham in the lineup? Mayfield mentioned this offseason that he changed the way he played when Beckham was on the field because he felt like he had to force him the ball. One would assume he learned his lesson and Odell will have to work for targets. But that remains to be seen. If Mayfield is able to build upon his 2020 season he has top 12 fantasy upside at QB, but part of this depends on how good the Browns are. He just simply may not throw the ball enough to have fantasy value in 1 QB leagues. In SuperFlex, go ahead and take Baker later on. He’ll be fine. 

RB

Nick Chubb - Rank: RB12

JUICE Projections: 245 carries, 1237 Rushing Yds, 14 Rush TD; 18 receptions, 144 Receiving Yds, 1 Rec. TD

As a pure running back I think Chubb is the best in the business. I would take him over Derrick Henry in 2021 if I needed someone to run the ball on one series or one game. But the problem with Chubb in fantasy is that he isn’t very involved in the passing game and Kareem Hunt takes away a lot of volume. If Hunt was to ever go down for an extended period of time, I think Chubb has top 3 fantasy upside, similar to Henry. That all being said, you could do worse than having Chubb as your RB1 in most leagues. He’s going to score a ton of touchdowns and put up a lot of yards. It would not be surprise to see Chubb lead the league in rushing yards in 2021.

Kareem Hunt - Rank: RB25

JUICE Projections: 175 carries, 744 Rushing Yds, 7 Rush TD; 36 receptions, 278 Receiving Yds, 4 Rec. TD

One of my favorite RB2’s this season, Hunt is being under drafted because of Chubb’s presence. That’s somewhat justified. However, Hunt was excellent in this role last year and is going to be one of Mayfield’s top targets this season. In re-draft leagues I would love to be able to get Hunt as my RB2 in the 6th or 7th round.

WR

Odell Beckham Jr. - Rank: WR23

JUICE Projections: 74 receptions, 967 Receiving Yds, 8 Rec. TD

Beckham is coming off of a serious leg injury and has never quite clicked in Cleveland. When he’s right, he’s one of the most dynamic receivers in the NFL. But he hasn’t been right in quite a few years. Look, if he drops in your fantasy drafts past WR30 territory, he’s probably a good buy. But I wouldn’t be reaching to grab Odell any more. 

Jarvis Landry - Rank: WR57

JUICE Projections: 58 receptions, 670 Receiving Yds, 3 Rec. TD

Landry is always overlooked and all he does is produce above his ADP. I’m never excited to get Landry on my team, but I’m always happy around mid season. I don’t think we’re going to see him catch 100 balls again any time soon, but as a WR3 and spot flex starter he’s a good asset to have.

Rashard Higgins - Rank: WR92

JUICE Projections: 28 receptions, 408 Receiving Yds, 3 Rec. TD

Higgins, along with second year receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, are players to keep your eye on. Should anything happen to Odell or Landry, both players become valuable in all leagues.

TE

Harrison Bryant - Rank: TE30

JUICE Projections: 33 receptions, 326 Receiving Yds, 3 Rec. TD

Austin Hooper - Rank: TE37

JUICE Projections: 30 receptions, 292 Receiving Yds, 2 Rec. TD

David Njoku - Rank: TE55

JUICE Projections: 14 receptions, 161 Receiving Yds, 1 Rec. TD

Which of the tight ends is the lead guy and how often will they be targeted in an offense with a plethora of other options? I’m high on Harrison Bryant, who had a nice rookie campaign. But Austin Hooper is probably the top option right now. He had some luck go against him last year and I think he’ll have a bounce back campaign. Either Bryant or Hooper would be good adds in deeper leagues, specifically in best ball. Njoku is probably the odd man out, despite his size and athleticism. 

TL;DR 2021 Cleveland Browns

  • Nick Chubb has top 5 fantasy upside at RB
  • One of the Browns tight ends could have a big season, but which will it be?
  • Baker Mayfield needs to take his game to the next level in order for the Browns to win it all
  • If Odell is healthy is he a top 20 fantasy receiver? Probably not.

Thanks for reading and good luck in your drafts! Next Up: the Jacksonville Jaguars!