Thursday Night Football
NY Jets @ Cleveland
Team Totals: Browns 21, Jets 18
Sacked 10 times in two games -- second most in the league -- Tyrod Taylor will face one of the NFL’s softest pass rushes on Thursday night, in addition to a man-coverage Jets defense that is vulnerable to dual-threat passers. Todd Bowles’ team coughed up 44 yards on the ground to Ryan Tannehill in Week 2 after yielding the league’s third-most quarterback rushing yards last year. Tyrod logged rushing lines of 6/35/1 and 8/38/0 in last year’s two division meetings with the Jets. Taylor is also one of football’s most environment-sensitive producers; in 2015-2017 with the Bills, Taylor averaged 21.5 fantasy points per game and 7.77 yards per pass attempt at home versus 19.0 PPG and 6.84 YPA on the road. This year, Taylor finished as Week 1’s overall QB6 at home and Week 2’s QB25 in New Orleans. … Carlos Hyde kept feature-back responsibilities against the Saints, logging 17 touches on 58% of the offensive snaps while Duke Johnson (5 touches, 37%) and Nick Chubb (2, 4%) took clear backseats. Hyde is a volume-driven RB2 option versus a stout Jets run defense that held Lions and Dolphins running backs to a combined 33/112/1 (3.38 YPC) rushing line in Weeks 1-2. … Johnson’s touch counts in Weeks 1-2 were 6 and 5. Chubb has played seven snaps. Both would need a Hyde injury or benching to become fantasy viable.
Taylor’s Weeks 1-2 target distribution: Jarvis Landry 22; David Njoku 14; Rashard Higgins 11; Johnson 8; Antonio Callaway 5; Hyde 3. … Running 66% of his routes inside, Landry has a significant matchup advantage on Jets slot CB Buster Skrine, who has missed a league-high four tackles this season after missing the NFL’s sixth-most tackles among cornerbacks last year. Landry has long been one of the premier tackle-breaking receivers in pro football. Skrine also showed a distinct lack of speed on Albert Wilson’s 29-yard touchdown catch last week. The week before, Gang Green coughed up 7/79/1 to fellow slot WR Golden Tate. … Njoku has 33 scoreless yards with two drops on 14 targets. He does respectably rank ninth among tight ends in Air Yards (117), but Njoku’s to-date lack of production renders him a boom-bust TE1 option. Albeit against tight end-barren Detroit and Miami, the Jets have yielded just 31 yards to tight ends in two games. Bowles’ defense ranked 15th in tight end yardage allowed last year. … Higgins’ snap rate jumped from 60% in Week 1 to 74% last week in Josh Gordon’s absence, and he tied for the team lead in targets (7) en route to 47 yards. A possession receiver best suited to the slot but forced to play outside, Higgins is an opportunity-based deep-league commodity worth noting for single-game DFS slates. … Fourth-round rookie Callaway was the biggest beneficiary of Gordon’s exit, out-snapping Higgins (81%) and catching a 47-yard touchdown bomb on fourth-and-five to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. Next Gen Stats recorded Callaway running at 21.5 MPH, this year’s third-fastest timed play behind two Tyreek Hill TDs. A Santonio Holmes-level talent with 4.41 jets but checkered off-field past, Callaway also broke off a 54-yard score from Baker Mayfield in Cleveland’s second preseason game. Callaway projects as a big-play-dependent, volatile producer on low volume.
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Although Isaiah Crowell out-touched Bilal Powell 14 to 10 in Week 2 versus Miami, Powell out-snapped Crowell 52% to 48% and outgained Crowell 81 to 39 with a 28-yard catch-and-run receiving score. As Crowell is the early-down grinder to Powell’s multi-purpose back, Powell’s matchup is more favorable versus a Cleveland defense that held Steelers and Saints backs to 53/198/2 (3.73 YPC) rushing in Weeks 1-2 but gave up 110 yards on 11 running back catches. Powell is a PPR-specific flex option. Crowell is a non-PPR-specific flex. … Sam Darnold’s pass protection failed him all too frequently in last week’s loss to Miami, and Cleveland’s underrated defensive front is capable of applying consistent pressure keyed by breakout sophomores RE Myles Garrett and NT Larry Ogunjobi. The Browns have seven sacks in two games, fifth most in football. Cleveland held Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees to fantasy finishes of QB21 and QB15 in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively. Darnold is a low-end two-quarterback-league option.
Darnold’s Weeks 1-2 target distribution: Quincy Enunwa 21; Terrelle Pryor 11; Powell 8; Robby Anderson 6; Chris Herndon 4; Crowell and Neal Sterling 3; Jermaine Kearse 2. … Locked in as Darnold’s go-to guy, Enunwa has drawn double-digit targets in back-to-back games on stat lines of 6/63/1 and 7/92/0 with a team-high 179 Air Yards. Enunwa is an every-week WR2 facing a Browns defense that has been torched by Michael Thomas (12/89/2), Antonio Brown (9/93/1), and JuJu Smith-Schuster (5/119/0) though two games. Enunwa’s Week 2 could have been much bigger had Darnold not overthrown him on a wide-open second-half target in the back right corner of the end zone. … Anderson needs to turn things around fast. His 89 Air Yards rank a distant third on the team, and he has so far looked like a misfit in first-year OC Jeremy Bates’ short-pass West Coast scheme. Based on to-date usage, Anderson is a big-play-dependent WR4/flex at best. … Pryor has more Air Yards (133) and more targets than Anderson so far, and Pryor’s Week 2 playing time rose (40% to 68%) despite Kearse’s return from an abdomen injury. There is data-backed reasoning to believe Pryor is a better fantasy play than Anderson at this point. … Fourth-round pick Herndon managed 30 scoreless yards on four targets after Sterling left with a Week 2 concussion, including a back-breaking second-half drop. Herndon is an extreme matchup-based dart throw against the Browns, who haven’t been as leaky to tight end production as usual early this year.
Score Prediction: Browns 20, Jets 13