The Browns have signed former Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt. It's surprising news in terms of both timing and landing spot. Hunt is still on the Commissioner's Exempt List after video was released of his February altercation with a woman inside a Cleveland hotel. It's unclear when he'll be reinstated and how long a suspension he'll garner to open the 2019 campaign. And the Browns, of course, already have RBs Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson on the roster. We'll see when Hunt is ruled eligible to return, but his addition makes Chubb a riskier pick in early fantasy drafts. We've seen him going in the late 1st and early 2nd round of FFPC best-ball drafts.
The Browns have fired HC Hue Jackson, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. Finally! Jackson has compiled a 3-36-1 record in Cleveland but somehow hung around for 2-and-a-half seasons. We'll see who the Browns tab as their interim HC, but the move can be nothing but good news for the team's skill-position guys.
Update: The Browns have also fired OC Todd Haley.
Update: The Browns have named former DC Gregg Williams their interim HC and former RBs coach Freddie Kitchens their interim OC.
Browns WR Josh Gordon is out for Sunday's game at New Orleans. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Gordon complained of hamstring trouble at team headquarters Saturday and was ruled out after getting checked. That leaves a few more targets available for WR Jarvis Landry, TE David Njoku and RB Duke Johnson in a game where Cleveland figures to trail.
The weather for today's Steelers-Browns game doesn't look quite as bad as it appeared it might be 24 hours ago. Light rain is expected throughout with winds of 10-20 mph. We'd try to avoid the kickers in this game and use the weather as a tiebreaker for passing-game pieces. But we're not adjusting our projections.
Browns RB Nick Chubb didn't get any snaps with QB Tyrod Taylor and the 1st-team offense in Friday night's preseason game against the Bills. RB Carlos Hyde was on the field for 17 of Taylor's 25 snaps, carrying 9 times for 64 yards and a score. RB Duke Johnson played the other 8 snaps with Taylor, finishing with 27 yards on 4 carries. It's clear at this point that Hyde will open the season as Cleveland's lead back. Chubb could work his way into playing time over the course of the year but won't be an early-season fantasy option.
The Browns agreed to a 3-year, $15.6 million extension ($7.7 million guaranteed) with RB Duke Johnson on Thursday, NFL Network reports. Johnson already looked likely to hang on to his significant offensive role, and this extension only solidifies that standing. It's especially important given the additions of Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb to the Cleveland backfield this offseason. Johnson is a nice value in current PPR drafting.
Browns HC Hue Jackson said Friday that he's giving OC Todd Haley "total autonomy" of the offense. He's "one of the best in the business," Jackson added of Haley. Consider this good news for all of Cleveland's skill-position guys. The Browns have ranked 31st and 32nd in points scored under Jackson the past 2 seasons. Haley arrives with 11 years of experience as a HC or OC. Eight of his squads have finished in the top half of the league in total points, including 6 top-10 finishes.
The Browns used the 35th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on Georgia RB Nick Chubb. Chubb busted out as a true freshman back in 2014, racking up 1,547 yards and 14 TDs on 7.1 yards per carry. His 2015 was cut short in October by a catastrophic left knee injury: a torn PCL, MCL and LCL, plus cartilage damage and a dislocation. Chubb returned for 2016 but didn’t look like the same player, posting a career-low 5.0 yards per carry. He bounced back nicely this past year, carrying 223 times for 1,345 yards (6.0 YPC) and 15 TDs. Chubb proved that the knee injury is behind him by registering an 83rd percentile SPARQ score at the Combine. When healthy, this guy is as good a runner as any RB in the class. He’s mostly unproven in the passing game, though, totaling just 31 catches across 4 college seasons. Chubb won’t be doing much pass-catching in Cleveland with Duke Johnson in the same backfield. But the rookie has a good shot to beat out Carlos Hyde for lead ball-carrying duties. That’ll be a situation to monitor throughout the summer.
Browns run-game coordinator Kirby Wilson says the team wants to have RB Duke Johnson on the field "as much as possible because we believe so strongly in him as a playmaker," according to the Akron Beacon Journal. Week 10 saw Johnson play his largest snap share since the season opener, but last week found him back down a bit: 49% compared with 59%. Johnson has caught 4+ passes in 4 straight games, though, after reaching that number just twice through the 1st 6. He scored on a 27-yard catch last week and totaled 88 yards the game before. Cleveland would be wise to increase his playing time against the Bengals on Sunday.
Browns RB Duke Johnson exited in the 4th quarter of Sunday's game to be checked for a concussion. We'll update his status when we learn more. Johnson previously sustained a concussion in August of 2015.
Update: Johnson cleared the protocol. He'll be available when Cleveland comes out of its Week 9 bye.
Browns RB Duke Johnson has been "doing everything" on offense early in training camp, HC Hue Jackson said. "He can catch out of the backfield. He runs the ball. We line him up in different places where we can get an advantage with him. He is a weapon for us," Jackson gushed. "We are just trying to use him as much as we can, and we do." Isaiah Crowell has established himself as Cleveland's lead back, but there's still room for Johnson. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry on 74 totes last year and hauled in 53 of 74 targets. Only 5 RBs caught more passes. Johnson ranked 30th at his position in PPR points in 2016 and sits in a similar spot in our 2017 PPR rankings. He's coming off the board at RB39 in recent MFL10 drafts.
Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot reports that Browns RB Duke Johnson has been lining up as a slot receiver "and could replace Andrew Hawkins in that role this season." Johnson's receiving skills are no secret, but that specific role should increase his playing time and give the young RB a path to regular touches even if Isaiah Crowell continues to work as the clear lead back. Johnson finished 2016 third on the team in targets (74) and 5th among all NFL RBs in that category. Hawkins finished last year 5th on the team with 54 targets. Johnson's target ceiling for 2017 could reach 90 -- perhaps even higher if WR Corey Coleman struggles further with durability issues.
Browns RB Duke Johnson led the team in receptions (5) and receiving yards (72) in Sunday's loss to the Bills, while his 7 targets fell just 1 behind Terrelle Pryor's team lead. It was Johnson's 1st game with more than 3 catches since Week 8 and followed a 2-target, 1-reception line against the Bengals in Week 14, when QB Robert Griffin returned to the lineup. So Johnson might be a low-level PPR option for Week 16's home date with the Chargers, but don't elevate him above that. He remains a high-risk, low-reward RB.
The forecast for today's Browns-Bills game calls for a slight chance of snow but winds of 20-30 mph. That's certainly enough to impact the passing games. Hopefully you're not relying on any part of Cleveland's passing attack. Downgrade Bills QB Tyrod Taylor and WR Sammy Watkins a tad, but both are still fine fantasy starters. Expect a heavy dose of RB LeSean McCoy today.
The forecast for today's Bengals-Browns game calls for 1-3 inches of snow and winds of 10-20 mph. We start to worry about the passing games when winds get over 15 mph, so this is a slight concern. Both teams figured to go run-heavy anyway, and the weather will only push them farther in that direction.
Browns WR Terrelle Pryor (hamstring) missed practice again on Thursday. He's starting to look extremely iffy for this weekend's game against the Bengals. That'd leave Cleveland with WRs Andrew Hawkins and rookies Ricardo Louis, Rashard Higgins and Jordan Payton. TE Gary Barnidge and RB Duke Johnson would be good bets to see increased volume.
Browns RB Isaiah Crowell is not expected to be disciplined by his team or the league for his controversial social media post depicting a police officer being stabbed. Crowell later removed the image and issued an apology. "We have spoken to Isaiah regarding his extremely disturbing and unacceptable social media decision,'' the Browns said in the statement. "It was completely inappropriate and we have made him aware of our high level of disappointment. Isaiah has apologized but also knows that just an apology is insufficient and that he must take steps to make a positive difference after a very negative and impactful post.'' We'll see whether the incident impact Crowell's standing with his new coaching staff. He'll battle for snaps and touches this summer with RB Duke Johnson.
Browns HC Hue Jackson sees Duke Johnson as an "every-down back," according to ESPN's Pat McManamon. Johnson was used in more of a change-of-pace role as a rookie, catching 61 balls but carrying just 104 times. He's on the smaller side at 5'9, 210 pounds but carried 242 times with a 6.8-yard average in his final college season at Miami. Johnson obviously needs to be better than his 3.6 yards per carry as a rookie if he wants an expanded rushing role this year. Cleveland has another talented (and bigger) RB in Isaiah Crowell. And Jackson rolled with a committee backfield both in Cincinnati (Jeremy Hill, Gio Bernard) and Oakland (Darren McFadden, Michael Bush). We're not banking on Johnson assuming an every-down role in 2016, but he should surpass last year's 165 total touches. He's a fine pick in PPR leagues at his current 6th-round ADP.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, new Browns HC Hue Jackson sees a potential "bellcow" when he watches RB Isaiah Crowell on tape. "I really think Isaiah Crowell is a really good running back," Jackson said after not picking any RBs in the NFL Draft. "I think he's going to have a sensational season, I really do. "Obviously Isaiah is very explosive," he said. "He's got quick feet, he's fast in the hole, he runs with good pad level.'' Jackson also called the combined talent "extreme" between Crowell and Duke Johnson. "Those 2 guys are as good as I've seen in a while,'' said the coach who just finished working with Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill in Cincinnati the past 2 years. Jackson also reportedly sees Bernard similarities in Johnson. "I think he's going to have a great year as well," Jackson said. "Duke has suddenness and quickness and he can go catch the ball with anybody. He does so many different things that gives your offense a boost.'' The Browns might need the backfield to carry an offense that appears ready to rely on a Robert Griffin rebound and a slew of rookie receivers. Even if the Browns struggle to win games, expect enough rushing to potentially support fantasy value in both backs -- especially at likely modest ADPs. Both make for solid picks in current best-ball drafting on MyFantasyLeague.com and MyFFPC.com.
The Browns have agreed to a deal to make Hue Jackson their new HC. Jackson has spent the past 4 years with the Bengals; the past 2 as OC. Cincinnati ranked 15th in total offense in both. Jackson was the Raiders' HC back in 2011, leading the team to an 8-8 record and a 9th-place finish in total offense. Generally regarded as 1 of the top offensive minds in the game, Jackson's arrival is good news for Cleveland's offense. Of course, there aren't many pieces there to be excited about.
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