Last updated: October 30th at 8:45am ET
Team Totals: Browns 21, Broncos 18
The Browns hit the road to face a Broncos offense suddenly quarterbacked by Brandon Allen, who has never played an NFL snap and has diminutive hands (8 7/8”) that suggest lots of ball-security woes are in his future. It’s an opportunity to stream Cleveland’s D/ST, which already had an advantage on Denver’s lackluster pass protection. The Broncos have allowed sacks on 9.3% of dropbacks, fifth most in the NFL. … Even after losing two first-quarter fumbles in last week’s loss to New England, Nick Chubb remains the Browns’ top Week 9 fantasy play as a road-favorite feature back facing a team starting a practice squad-caliber quarterback. Chubb has at least 17 touches in 7-of-7 games, while running backs facing Denver have averaged 29.8 touches. One week before Kareem Hunt is eligible for activation from suspension, this may be Chubb’s final shot at a 30-plus-touch game during the 2019 season. … With just one top-12 fantasy result in seven starts, Baker Mayfield is an easy Week 9 fade on the road against a Broncos pass defense that’s yielded zero top-12 QB1 outcomes and didn’t trade top CB Chris Harris at the deadline.
Mayfield’s 2019 target distribution: Odell Beckham 61; Jarvis Landry 54; Chubb 27; Damion Ratley 15; Dontrell Hilliard and Ricky Seals-Jones 12; Antonio Callaway 10; Demetrius Harris 9; Rashard Higgins 5. … This is another tough draw for Beckham; only two wideouts have cleared 75 yards against Denver’s secondary in eight games, while OBJ himself has frustrated within Cleveland’s discombobulated offense and is now likely to see shadow coverage from Harris. Still due for major positive-touchdown regression with just one pay-dirt trip in seven games, Beckham is a contrarian DFS-tournament play at sub-5% ownership. … Popping in Week 9’s Buy Low Air Yards Model, Landry has been Cleveland’s most-stable receiver with 60-plus yards in 5-of-7 games, and he too is due for positive-touchdown regression with zero scores all year. As Harris projects to chase OBJ, there is little to fear about Landry facing Denver’s slot coverage. … Even as Harris logged 2/33/1 receiving on three targets in Cleveland’s Week 8 post-bye loss to New England, he played a season-low 21% of the Browns’ offensive snaps, and Seals-Jones ran 16 more routes than Harris. Continue to avoid ancillary pass catchers in the Browns’ dysfunctional offense.
Denver’s Brandon Allen installation renders its passing-game analysis near moot but brings the Browns’ defense into focus as mentioned above. Reports have Joe Flacco (neck) missing at least 4-6 weeks, and his heated post-Week 8 callout of Vic Fangio and OC Rich Scangarello suggests Flacco may never play a down for the Broncos again. … Scangarello’s run-first philosophy won’t change, of course; Denver ranks bottom ten in pass attempts per game (32.8) and will maintain a run-heavy approach featuring Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. Unimpressive in run defense, Cleveland has yielded a robust 170/800/4 (4.71 YPC) rushing line to enemy backs. As usual, Lindsay is an explosive if capped-ceiling RB2, and Freeman an oft-underrated RB2/flex play with pay-dirt trips in consecutive games. … A fourth-year journeyman on his third NFL team, Allen’s box-score impact on Denver’s pass catchers is entirely unidentifiable considering his total lack of big-league experience. In the Broncos’ first post-Emmanuel Sanders game, pass-catcher routes were distributed as follows: Courtland Sutton 34; Noah Fant 27; DaeSean Hamilton 25; Fred Brown 23; Jeff Heuerman 8; Diontae Spencer 6; Andrew Beck 4; Juwann Winfree 1. You’re on your own with all of these guys. Sutton does check in as Week 9’s No. 2 player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Buy Low Air Yards Model, giving him uncomfortable long-shot DFS-tournament life.
Score Prediction: Browns 21, Broncos 20