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FFL: Playoff Week 2 | 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
Michael Badgley Dec 15 1:00am ET

Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley is back in sunny southern California for Sunday's game against the Vikings, and he's been on a bit of a hot streak. Badgley isn't known for his power, but his accuracy has returned after a shaky start. Badgley is 10-for-12 from less than 50 yards over the last five weeks, pushing his season stats up closer to his career numbers now that he's healthy. Badgley's groin injury put him behind when he returned to the team, but the further he gets away from the issue, the better he's getting. He should be considered a highly accurate kicker from here on out.

From RotoBaller

Derwin James Dec 15 1:00am ET

Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James will get his first opportunity to face former teammate and friend Dalvin Cook when LA squares off against the Vikings on Sunday. James has faced Cook plenty of times in practice, but this will be the first game against one of the NFL's leading rushers. To go along with Cook, Pro Bowl wide receiver Adam Thielen will be returning to the field, and Kirk Cousins will be working on padding his resume as he's looking like one of the top passers in the league. The Chargers Defense has been better lately, but this matchup looks like a beastly one for the squad. Owners are probably able to make a better choice with a different one this week.

From RotoBaller

Mike Williams Dec 15 12:50am ET

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams is carrying quite the streak, and he'll be looking to add to it with another deep pass on Sunday. Williams has a reception of 40 or more yards in six straight games, though amazingly, only one of those bombs has turned into a touchdown. The third-year wideout is at 841 yards receiving, but it wasn't until last week's blowout against Jacksonville that he recorded his first score of the season. Facing off against a stingy Minnesota secondary, Williams will be hard-pressed to find an opening for another big play, but owners can bet he'll be trying and Rivers will give him a chance.

From RotoBaller

Hunter Henry Dec 15 12:50am ET

Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry has put up 60 or more receiving yards or a touchdown in seven of his nine games this season, and he'll get another opportunity on Sunday when he faces a Minnesota defense that is surprisingly soft against opposing tight ends. Though the Vikings are above average in just about every defensive category, opposing tight ends have been particularly successful in the fat part of the field. Minnesota has allowed the 10th-most yards to opposing tight ends this season, but they have done a good job of clamping down once they get close to the end zone. Expect Henry to get some opportunities, and he'll probably be able to keep his good games going with some decent numbers.

From RotoBaller

Keenan Allen Dec 15 12:40am ET

Following a series of ho-hum weeks through the middle of the season, Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen has been on a hot streak of late, racking up 27 catches and 290 yards receiving over the last four games. Allen was able to haul in a pair of touchdowns over the stretch as well, and he has put up 68 or more receiving yards in each of the games. That said, Allen will be facing a tough matchup as he'll possibly be lining up across from Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes (ankle) and the rest of an intimidating Minnesota secondary. With the Vikings on a hot offensive streak, don't be surprised if LA is playing catch-up and Allen sees plenty of chances. He'll just have to fight his way through a lot of coverage to bring them in.

From RotoBaller

DeVante Parker Dec 14 10:40pm ET

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Devante Parker (concussion) has cleared the league's concussion protocol and will play on Sunday against the New York Giants. The Giants are starting four rookies in the secondary and Parker and the Dolphins shouldn't have too hard a time moving the ball. Parker is a strong WR2 with a nice ceiling for the fantasy semifinals this week. Parker's fellow Dolphins receiver Albert Wilson also cleared the protocol and will suit up for Sunday's game.

From RotoBaller

Saquon Barkley Dec 14 9:43pm ET

New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley said he is feeling 'healthier and healthier' ahead of a Week 15 matchup with a Miami Dolphins team ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing defense.

Fantasy Spin: Barkley hasn't had a 100-yard rushing game since Week 2, and he has gone five straight games without scoring. He has been one of the bigger fantasy disappointments this season, but RB2 numbers should be possible in Week 15 with a friendly matchup on tap.

From TheHuddle

Rashaad Penny Dec 14 9:23pm ET

Seattle Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list, Saturday, Dec. 14.

Fantasy Spin: The knee injury certainly won't help the former first-round pick establish himself as the potential starter in Seattle in 2020. If you own Penny in a dynasty league, you just have to stash him and hope he eventually turns things around.

From TheHuddle

Mecole Hardman Dec 14 9:10pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman has seen his targets decrease since Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins returned healthy. He's seen one target over the last two games, but that catch was a 48-yard touchdown. Hardman doesn't see enough targets to warrant owning in most formats. He's a touchdown-dependent receiver that is only worth using in the deepest of leagues. It's unclear how he'll be worked into the game plan, so he's risky for fantasy formats.

From RotoBaller

Travis Kelce Dec 14 9:10pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has been arguably the best tight end in the NFL alongside George Kittle. Kelce is expected to easily surpass 1,000 receiving yards on the season during the Week 15 matchup with the Denver Broncos. Kelce should be in for a solid game against the average Broncos Defense. Fantasy owners have been able to count on Kelce basically every week this season. He'll remain a TE1 for this home matchup with Denver.

From RotoBaller

Sammy Watkins Dec 14 9:00pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins has been unable to live up to his epic Week 1 performance. He's been able to carry enough fantasy value worth rostering him in most 12-team leagues, but hasn't scored since Week 1. Watkins heads into a matchup against the Denver Broncos in Week 15. The Broncos Defense has allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season, according to Yahoo Sports. Fantasy owners should consider Watkins a WR3 or flex option for Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Darwin Thompson Dec 14 8:40pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs running back Darwin Thompson has seen increased involvement in the offense the last two games. Damien Williams (ribs) and Darrel Williams (hamstring) both being sidelined has given Thompson an opportunity in the backfield. Damien has a chance to play in Sunday's Week 15 contest against the Denver Broncos. Having him back might push Thompson out of the backfield rotation. Thompson showed promise in the passing game when he caught four passes for 36 yards versus the Patriots in Week 14. Thompson could again have value in the passing game if Williams is forced to sit out again. He's only a deep league option at this point, but he could have some flex value if Williams remains out.

From RotoBaller

Tyreek Hill Dec 14 8:40pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill has been a reliable fantasy option throughout most of the season. However, Hill has been unable to find the end zone through the last three games. He's heading into a matchup with the Denver Broncos in Week 15. The same team that he caught three passes for 74 yards and a touchdown on in Week 7. Fantasy owners should feel confident that Hill can be a WR1 for this home matchup with Denver. Hill has caught at least five receptions in each of the last two games.

From RotoBaller

LeSean McCoy Dec 14 8:30pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy has been the lead back lately with Damien Williams (ribs) sidelined. However, Williams is listed as questionable for Sunday's Week 15 matchup with the Broncos. McCoy saw 11 rushing attempts for 39 yards during the Week 14 victory over New England. He might end up getting another start, but will battle with Darwin Thompson and Spencer Ware for carries. McCoy is basically a touchdown-dependent option that will be handcuffed to around 10 to 12 carries.

From RotoBaller

Damien Williams Dec 14 8:20pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (ribs) is listed as questionable for Sunday's Week 15 matchup with the Denver Broncos. The Chiefs backfield is a mess with LeSean McCoy, Darwin Thompson, and Spencer Ware all in the mix. Williams has missed the last two games and could be limited, assuming he plays on Sunday. It's uncertain how many touches Williams would see even fully healthy. He's going to be a touchdown-dependent fantasy option that most owners should avoid for Week 15.

From RotoBaller

Patrick Mahomes Dec 14 8:10pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has thrown three touchdowns and two interceptions over his last three games. Mahomes is normally an elite fantasy option every week, but has been slowed down recently. He should bounce back nicely against the Denver Broncos in Week 15. Mahomes completed 10 of 11 passing attempts for 76 yards and one touchdown last time he faced the Broncos in Week 7. However, Mahomes was injured during the game, but was playing very well before that. Fantasy owners should feel confident that Mahomes will bounce back here.

From RotoBaller

Jameis Winston Dec 14 7:53pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston (knee, thumb), will play Sunday, Dec. 15, against the Detroit Lions, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN Saturday, Dec. 14. He is officially listed as questionable.

Fantasy Spin: Winston has produced much better fantasy numbers than real-world results this season. He threw for a season-high 456 yards last week against the Indianapolis Colts while matching a season-high with four touchdowns but he also threw three interceptions for the fourth time this season. He's a low-end QB1.

From TheHuddle

Terrell Suggs Dec 14 6:33pm ET

Free-agent LB Terrell Suggs (Cardinals) will strongly consider not reporting to any team that claims him on waivers by 4 p.m. ET Monday, Dec. 16, if not the Baltimore Ravens, according to league sources Saturday, Dec. 14.

From TheHuddle

Albert Wilson Dec 14 6:03pm ET

Miami Dolphins WR Albert Wilson (concussion) cleared the NFL's concussion protocol Saturday, Dec. 14, and is expected to be available for the game Sunday, Dec. 15, against the New York Giants.

Fantasy Spin: Wilson hasn't reached the end zone since Week 8 and he hasn't topped 33 receiving yards in a single game this season. He isn't a fantasy consideration in anything but the deepest of leagues, even in the great Week 15 matchup.

From TheHuddle

DeVante Parker Dec 14 5:53pm ET

Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker (concussion) cleared the league's concussion protocol Saturday, Dec. 14, and will be available to play against the New York Giants Sunday, Dec. 15.

Fantasy Spin: Parker has enjoyed a breakout season and had topped 130 receiving yards in two of his previous three games before leaving early due to injury last week. He's a WR2 in a great matchup against the Giants this week.

From TheHuddle