Guest of the League
ANEZ LEAGUE Est. 2017
NFL Playoffs League - FFL: Week 1 | NFL: Week 15

2 of a kind: Chubb, Hunt give Browns powerful backfield

Tue Nov 12 5:03pm ET
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer

Players: Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Kareem Hunt, Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Mason Rudolph, Austin Seibert

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) rushes between Buffalo Bills free safety Jordan Poyer (21) and strong safety Micah Hyde (23) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)


In this May 15, 2019, file photo, Cleveland Browns' Kareem Hunt (27) and Nick Chubb (24) talk during an NFL football organized team activity session at the team's training facility in Berea, Ohio. With Kareem Hunt returning from his eight-game NFL suspension to join Nick Chubb in Clevelands backfield, the Browns (3-6) have a dynamic duo that will test opposing defenses through the air and on the ground. In Sundays 19-16 win over Buffalo, the Hunt-Chubb tandem combined for 147 yards rushing and 49 receiving while helping the Browns snap a four-game losing streak that halted a season shaped by high expectations from dissolving into another mess. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)


Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb, top, is tackled by Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)


Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) rushes against the Buffalo Bills during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)


BEREA, Ohio (AP) Freddie Kitchens has struggled to make two star wide receivers happy. The Browns coach now has a pair of elite running backs to please as well.

One football. Four playmakers.

That's not necessarily a bad problem.

With Kareem Hunt returning from his eight-game NFL suspension to join Nick Chubb in Cleveland's backfield, the Browns (3-6) have a dynamic duo that will test opposing defenses on the ground and through the air.

In Sunday's 19-16 win over Buffalo, the Hunt-Chubb tandem debuted and combined for 196 total yards while helping the Browns snap a four-game losing streak that halted this season shaped by high expectations from dissolving into another maddening mess.

Kitchens, whose future was beginning to look bleak and remains unclear, understands that Chubb-Hunt can be a potent 1-2 combination.

''Anytime you can get guys who can do things with the ball in their hands and they can also play off of other people, that definitely impacts decisions, alignments and assignments,'' Kitchens said Tuesday as the Browns prepared for Thursday night's game against the surging Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4) ''When you have more than a couple of options, it's always, from that positon in particular, very good.''

And very needed.

To this point, the Browns have lacked a clear offensive identity.

The two-back, Chubb-Hunt set may change that.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield hasn't developed any consistent chemistry with Pro Bowl receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who has just one touchdown catch as teams have focused on taking him away with double teams. The Browns went out of their way to get Beckham involved on Sunday as he was targeted 12 times - Mayfield just missed him on two long throws - and had five catches.

Jarvis Landry had one of his best games this season with nine receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown.

The Browns have already seen how Hunt's versatility will prevent teams from keying on Chubb, who is on the verge of a 1,000-yard season, while creating more downfield opportunities for Beckham and Landry.

''We kind of did some experiments on just how much we can do with that package,'' Mayfield said. ''Obviously, two dynamic players with Nick and Kareem, we are able to do a lot but kind of make to where we format it where it all looks similar, but we are doing different things out of it. It can be an explosive package for us. We just have to go out there and do our job.''

From the start on Sunday, Hunt did his job, unleashing months of pent-up energy.

On Cleveland's second play, he lined up alongside Chubb and then delivered a kick-out block that cleared a path for his teammate on a 21-yard run. It was a tone-setter and perhaps a sign of things to come.

''They're both willing blockers, they both can catch out of the backfield, then can line up in different spots and they both run with great energy,'' said left guard Joel Bitonio. ''It was cool to see `em both out there. Hunt ran the ball hard the few times he got it. The cool thing was he was lead-blocking a few times and some of those were big spring plays. You know we don't have a fullback in there, but he kind of acted like it a couple times.

''That was really cool to see, his willingness to be that guy.''

Hunt's debut for the Browns was a revelation in many ways.

The 24-year-old former NFL rushing champion is determined to change his personal narrative following two ugly, off-field incidents that led to his release by the Kansas City Chiefs last year and subsequent league punishment. To some, the disturbing video of Hunt shoving and kicking a woman during an argument last year has painted him as an unforgivable villain.

However, the Browns have been impressed with his attitude and maturity. He's made strides off the field. On it, he's a potentially game-changing player.

''Whatever the team needs, he'll do,'' said center JC Tretter. ''He showed it.''

Hunt understands there may be people not thrilled that he's getting a second chance. That's something else he has avoided focusing on.

''I really do not pay too much attention with that,'' he said when asked if he senses how fans have received his return. ''It is up to you. If you like me, you like me.''

NOTES: DE Olivier Vernon (knee) and S Eric Murray (knee) remain sidelined and will likely miss Thursday's game. ... The season's first significant snowfall forced the Browns to practice indoors. But kicker Austin Seibert, punter Jamie Gillan and long snapper Charley Hughlett went outside to get their work in. ... Mayfield will match up Thursday against Steelers QB Mason Rudolph for the first time as pros. They faced each other three times in college with Mayfield leading Oklahoma to a 3-0 record against Rudolph and Oklahoma State. ''Mason is a great guy,'' Mayfield said. ''He is playing well, taking care of the ball, putting them in a good position to win.''

Player Notes
Kelvin Harmon Dec 15 9:50pm ET

Washington Redskins wide receiver Kelvin Harmon was largely absent from his team's offensive attack for the second week in a row on Sunday. Harmon caught two passes on three targets and accumulated just 22 total yards in a loss to the Eagles. This is a discouraging trend for Harmon after he appeared to be carving out a spot in the pecking order in late November and early December. In any case, the fantasy season is at the point where owners just have to trust what their eyes are telling them. Harmon has dropped too far off the map to be considered a realistically safe bet in the late stages of the fantasy playoffs.

From RotoBaller

Austin Seibert Dec 15 9:40pm ET

Cleveland Browns kicker Austin Seibert hit one of his two field goals in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15. Seibert also tacked on three extra points in the loss. The rookie kicker missed a 45-yard field goal at the beginning of the fourth quarter, his fourth missed field goal of the season. In all, Seibert has been a reliable kicker for the Browns this season, although their poor offense has limited his scoring chances. Seibert will not be a recommended fantasy option in Week 16 against a tough Baltimore Ravens Defense.

From RotoBaller

Adam Thielen Dec 15 9:40pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen was quiet in his return, catching all three of his targets for 27 yards in a 39-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. He added one rush for three yards. The Vikings only attempted five passes in the second half as they held a solid lead shortly after halftime, severely limiting Thielen's chances at a big game. Stefon Diggs was actually the only receiver to see more than three targets in the contest and Irv Smith Jr. caught the only receiving touchdown. The good news is that Thielen appeared fully healthy, and he can be utilized as a WR2 in next week's crucial tilt with the Green Bay Packers.

From RotoBaller

Cleveland Browns Dec 15 9:40pm ET

The Cleveland Browns Defense struggled in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15. In addition to coughing up 38 points, Cleveland managed just one turnover and was unable to notch a sack in the loss, despite Arizona's offense line being one of the league leaders in quarterback sacks allowed this season. Things will get much worse for Cleveland's defense in Week 16 as they will try to limit a red-hot Baltimore Ravens offense. They will be a unit to avoid in fantasy for the fantasy championship round.

From RotoBaller

Brandin Cooks Dec 15 9:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks caught four receptions for 46 yards in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys. The four catches were all he had in the last three games entering the contest. He was third on team with eight targets. It was nice that he re-emerged as a target in the offense, but he's still not an option in fantasy against the San Francisco 49ers next week.

From RotoBaller

Robert Woods Dec 15 9:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods had four catches for 17 yards on nine targets in Week 15. The Dallas Cowboys did their homework and made him a non-factor. He was second on the team in targets. Next week will be even more of a chore against the San Francisco 49ers. Woods will be a WR3 option in the matchup.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Higbee Dec 15 9:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee had a game-high 12 catches for 111 yards in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys. He was targeted 14 times in the game, which led all players. He has 26 catches for 334 yards and one score the last three games as he has emerged as a TE1. He'll have a solid matchup against the San Francisco 49ers next week as a midrange TE1.

From RotoBaller

Greg Zuerlein Dec 15 9:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein had a single extra point in the blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15. He'll have a decent matchup against the San Francisco 49ers next week, and Zuerlein will be a low-end kicker option.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Donald Dec 15 9:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald had three tackles (one solo) in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys. He was unable to land a sack in the game. He'll have a midrange matchup against the San Francisco 49ers next week as a low-end DL1.

From RotoBaller

Ricky Seals-Jones Dec 15 9:30pm ET

Cleveland Browns tight end Ricky Seals-Jones had a big game against his former team in Week 15. Seals-Jones caught three of his four targets for 29 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, furthering Arizona's season-long struggles against the tight end. David Njoku was a surprise pregame scratch, which helped lead to a larger role for Seals-Jones. Regardless of what happens with Njoku in Week 16, none of the Cleveland tight ends will be recommended options against a tough Baltimore Ravens Defense.

From RotoBaller

Terry McLaurin Dec 15 9:30pm ET

Washington Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin hauled in all five of the passes thrown his way on Sunday, producing 130 yards and a touchdown. McLaurin's two best fantasy outings of the year have now both come against the Eagles, so Philly is likely happy to be finished with him until 2020. The Redskins' number-one receiver has scored in back-to-back weeks, and has put up serviceable PPR numbers in three of his last four. He remains in the starting conversation for all formats, especially for those fantasy owners who've been hit with injuries to WRs lately.

From RotoBaller

Stefon Diggs Dec 15 9:30pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs caught four of six targets for 76 yards in a resounding 39-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. He also added one rush for four yards in the victory. Diggs hauled in his 13th reception of at least 30 yards (most in the NFL) on a nice 46-yard catch in the fourth quarter, setting up an eight-yard Mike Boone touchdown. Diggs clearly could have had a bigger game if the Chargers had been able to keep it close, but the Vikings threw just five times in the second half with the outcome already determined. Diggs has emerged as one of the top deep threats in the NFL and should remain a high-upside WR2 in Week 16 against the Green Bay Packers.

From RotoBaller

Chandler Jones Dec 15 9:20pm ET

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones had five solo tackles and a sack against the Cleveland Browns Sunday. He has at least a half-sack in six straight games, but he has had five or more tackles in just four games this season. So it's a risk to use him against the Seattle Seahawks next week, but he'll be a low-end LB1 option.

From RotoBaller

Budda Baker Dec 15 9:20pm ET

Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker had seven tackles (five solo) in Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns. Baker has been a solid DB1 in individual defensive player leagues all season, but he has fizzled out a bit. He's good for tackles, but he doesn't do much else. He'll be a low-end DB1 against the Seattle Seahawks next week.

From RotoBaller

Odell Beckham Jr. Dec 15 9:20pm ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. caught eight of his 13 targets for 66 scoreless yards in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. On the plus side, Beckham's 13 targets are the most he's seen in a game all season. That being said, he failed to cash in on a dream matchup against an extremely ineffective Arizona secondary. Beckham is still stuck on just two touchdowns this season. His career-low in that category is three, which came in 2017 when he played in just four games. Beckham will be tough to trust in Week 16 against a tough Baltimore defense.

From RotoBaller

Jared Goff Dec 15 9:20pm ET

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff went 33-for-51 for 284 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in Week 15. The Rams were never in the game, and Goff was forced to throw for the entirety. Goff will face off against the San Francisco 49ers Saturday in Week 16. The 49ers haven't been as stout against opposing quarterbacks of late, and Goff will be a low-end QB1.

From RotoBaller

Jarvis Landry Dec 15 9:20pm ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry turned in a slow outing in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15. Landry caught five of his eight targets for just 23 yards in the loss. The slow outing goes down as a big letdown after Landry had been an extremely consistent fantasy option for much of the season. The slot receiver also got into an argument with head coach Freddie Kitchens early in the fourth quarter after a missed field goal. Things won't get much easier for Landry as he draws a tough Week 16 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.

From RotoBaller

Todd Gurley Dec 15 9:20pm ET

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley scored on the ground and in the air in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys. The Rams actually fell behind early and never recovered. Gurley had 11 rushes for 20 yards and three catches for 18 yards. Those touchdowns salvaged what would have been a rough fantasy week. Gurley will be a solid RB2 against the San Francisco 49ers next week.

From RotoBaller

Cooper Kupp Dec 15 9:20pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp salvaged a six-catch, 41-yard performance with a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday. Kupp was fifth on the team in targets as quarterback Jared Goff really hasn't connected well with him the last few weeks. Kupp will have a tough matchup in Week 16 against the San Francisco 49ers, but he'll be a low-end WR2.

From RotoBaller

Nick Chubb Dec 15 9:10pm ET

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb had a big game in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15. Chubb carried the ball 17 times for 127 yards and a touchdown while adding three receptions for 21 yards in the loss. The second-year running back also broke a two-game scoreless streak when he found the end zone for the eighth time this season. Chubb has been excellent this season but he will have his work cut out for him in Week 16 when he takes on a tough Baltimore Ravens Defense. He finished with 165 rushing yards and three touchdowns the last time these two teams met in Week 4, but Baltimore's defense is much improved since then. Treat him as more of a high-end RB2 for that matchup.

From RotoBaller