Detroit Lions (0-8-1, 5-4 ATS) at Cleveland Browns (5-5, 5-5), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Lions Stats and Trends
Detroit has played under the total in six of its last seven games.
Well, Jared Goff didn’t lose for the first time in his career without Sean McVay. He’s now 0-15-1 after tying the Steelers last week. Lions’ HC Dan Campbell took over the play-calling duties from OC Anthony Lynn coming out of their bye, and he showed a strong commitment to taking the ball out of Goff’s hands. The Lions finished with 39 carries compared to 29 dropbacks in Week 10. Goff has finished with fewer than 10+ FP in four of his last five games with just one TD pass in that span.
D’Andre Swift saw 33 of Detroit’s 39 carries last week, which he turned into 130 yards (3.9 YPC), and he added 3/5 receiving on six targets. Unfortunately, Godwin Igwebuike and Jermar Jefferson each had long touchdown runs on their five combined carries, but Swift still had season-high 93% snap share. Swift could be looking at another massive workload against the Browns this week. Jamaal Williams’ thigh injury appears to be more serious than initially thought since he didn’t log a single practice leading up to Week 10, and #3 RB Jefferson left early with an ankle injury. The Browns have given up 20+ FP to opposing RBs in three straight games (Stevnson, Mixon, Najee).
T.J. Hockenson failed to haul in his one and only target in sloppy conditions against the Steelers in Week 10. Backup Brock Wright saw more targets from Goff than Hockenson (2 to 1) on basically an eighth of the routes (23 to 3). Hockenson now has four performances with fewer than nine FP in his last seven contests, and he could be even more volatile down the stretch with Campbell actively looking to take the ball out of Goff’s hands. Hockenson already had a limited ceiling with no touchdowns since he scored in Weeks 1-2, and he now has a rock-bottom floor in this awful passing attack. Hunter Henry did score two touchdowns last week against the Browns.
Amon-Ra St. Brown finished with 4/61 receiving on six targets (24% share) and he accounted for 54% of Goff’s passing yards in an ugly tie against the Steelers in Week 10. The Lions came out of their bye with a tight core at WRs, at least, with St. Brown running 24 routes, followed closely by Kalif Raymond and Trinity Benson at 23 routes each. Jakobi Meyers (4/49/1 receiving) and Kendrick Bourne (4/98/1) each found the end zone in this matchup last week.
Brolley’s Browns Stats and Trends
Cleveland is 2-5 ATS in its last seven home games.
The Browns are 4-1 toward unders in their last five games as a favorite.
Nick Chubb’s already uneven season got even more frustrating when he tested positive for COVID-19 last week, which forced him to watch from the sidelines in their humiliating 45-7 loss to the Patriots in Week 10. D’Ernest Johnson registered his second performance with 22+ FP in the last four weeks with 19/99 rushing and 7/58 receiving on eight targets on an 88% snap share. The vaccinated Chubb is likely to return to the lineup this week in a prime matchup against the Lions, but he’s quickly running out of opportunities to own this backfield and to be an elite fantasy option while Kareem Hunt (calf, IR) is out of the lineup likely through their Week 13 bye. He’s in a blow-up spot this week against a Lions’ defense that’s allowing the fourth-most rushing yards per game (109.9) and 4.3 YPC to RBs.
Cleveland’s offense went back to the struggle bus after their 41-point aberration against the Bengals in Week 9, scoring just seven points and averaging 3.7 yards per play against the Patriots. Baker Mayfield continued to labor through his left shoulder injury and a knee injury knocked him out against the Patriots. Baker completed only 11/21 passes for 73 yards (3.5 YPA), one TD, and one INT. Mason Rudolph managed 242/1 passing in 70 minutes of action against the Lions last week.
Jarvis Landry has finished with fewer than seven FP in his first two games without Odell Beckham, and he’s fallen below nine FP in four of his six games this season. Steelers’ slot WR Ray-Ray McCloud posted 9/63 receiving against the Lions last week.
Donovan Peoples-Jones had 12+ FP in three straight healthy contests in Weeks 5-9 before he registered just a 16-yard catch on five targets (15% share) on a season-high 85% snap share. The Lions are giving up a healthy 14.3 YPR to WRs, and James Washington managed 2/15/1 receiving against them last week.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 28.1 (25th)
Plays per game: 67.9 (23th)
Pass: 61.8% (13th) | Run: 38.2% (20th)
Pace: 28.6 (28th)
Plays per game: 66.9 (17th)
Pass: 56.2% (26th) | Run: 43.8% (7th)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
This game, well… let’s just say it’s short on upside for fantasy. These two offenses are bottom-8 in pace and with Baker Mayfield extremely beat up, I’m not optimistic that this game will fill up the box score. This matchup obviously plays into the Browns strengths regardless. Opponents are running on Detroit at the third-highest rate above expectation (+7.6) when the game is within a score. The Browns are going to hammer the rock. Meanwhile, HC Dan Campbell took over play-calling duties out of their bye week and had clearly seen enough of Jared Goff. He promptly went 66% run-heavy in the first three quarters of the game. Lol. Detroit will continue to play slow and run the ball here.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
I’m expecting that D’Andre Swift will see a reduced role this week. Not a reduction from the 39 touches he received in Week 10, a decline from the 18.4 he averaged in the eight games prior. He’s currently listed on the injury report with a shoulder issue. The 5-foot-9, 215-pounder is likely dealing with a sore everything. His 33 carries from last week are as many as he’s taken in any two games combined during his NFL career. I completely understand his intentions for putting that punishment on his body. He wanted to give everything to his team to claim their first victory. And Jamaal Williams should be back this week.
Baker Mayfield also took a beating in Week 10. While he seems determined to play, I’m getting the vibe that this could be a get-the-lead-and-let-the-RBs-grind-out-the-remainder kind of game. It certainly appears as though Nick Chubb is symptomatic since he’s yet to be activated from the COVID list. If he plays, Chubb will attack a Detroit defense permitting the fourth-most FPG to RBs (28.8). If not, be prepared to insert D’Ernest Johnson.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
The Lions’ Dan Campbell took over playcalling from Anthony Lynn last week against the Steelers and coached Detroit to their best result of the season!!!! … a tie. Well, I would expect Detroit’s approach to continue in Week 11.
And Detroit might have a new quarterback for the game. After another atrocious performance for Jared Goff, in which he suffered an oblique injury (he’s doubtful), the Lions have been giving first-team reps this week to Tim Boyle, who has never made an NFL start and, in fact, wasn’t even on the active roster until Friday. Boyle, erstwhile of the Packers, is a professional kneeler and fan favorite up in Green Bay.
He has just 15 yards passing in his NFL career, offset by losing 16 yards on 15 rush attempts. He is a Human Victory Cigar! And frankly, from a fantasy perspective, I’d prefer him to Goff. That’s where we’re at right now. TE TJ Hockenson is benchable after his 70-minute goose egg in Week 10, but at least Boyle might give him some life.
yoooooooooo I am SO INTERESTED to see Tim Boyle play QB in an NFL game. this man finished his college career (UConn/Eastern Kentucky) with 12 TDs and 26 INTs https://t.co/TH6JIUrU6U— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) November 17, 2021
“Even when Jamaal Williams was healthy, Swift was proving to be one of the best picks you could have made in your 2021 fantasy draft.
Through the first seven weeks, Swift ranked 5th in XFP/G (19.3) and 5th in FPG (19.6). Keep in mind, that was with Williams stealing about 35% of the snaps and 34% of the XFP out of the backfield, though both numbers were steadily falling (in Swift’s favor).
In the two games since, without Williams, Swift has been a full-on bell cow. In Week 9, a 38-point blowout loss, Swift played on 95% of the team’s snaps through the first three quarters. In Week 10, Swift played on 93% of the snaps, earning 33 carries and 7 targets (24% target share). This sort of usage is exceedingly rare — there are only five other instances of a RB getting 30-plus carries and 5-plus targets in a single game since 2017. All of this added up to a 27.7-point expectation (2nd-most on the week), though Swift scored only 16.3 fantasy points in a bottom-3 on paper matchup.
Even with Williams active, you could argue Swift should be viewed almost no differently from Austin Ekeler, a high-end fantasy RB1 who can put up WR4 numbers as a receiver and fringe-RB1 numbers as a rusher. And with Williams out, Swift should be viewed almost no differently from peak-Alvin Kamara.
So, keep all that in mind this week. Swift’s matchup, against the Browns, is only neutral on paper, but looks significantly improved in contrast to his Week 10 matchup against the Steelers. If we’re expecting 93% of the work again this week, it’s worth a boost of about +4.4 FPG.”
Jamaal Williams (thigh) could be back this week, and I’d have to imagine that Campbell will want to get him carries too, but Swift is obviously an RB1, as Scott lays out.
As for the Browns, it’s really tough to trust this passing game with Baker Mayfield on the injury report with three injuries — shoulder, foot, knee.
Baker Mayfield: “Pretty sore. That time of the year. One day at a time but I’ll be good.” Later: “Probably the most beat up I’ve been. Multiple things, not just one.”— Zac Jackson (@AkronJackson) November 17, 2021
He was limping as he walked from the facility to the interview.
Here’s Graham on the usage of the receivers in the Browns’ last two weeks without Odell Beckham:
Browns WR routes run in two games without OBJ: Landry (54), Peoples-Jones (50), Schwartz (24), Higgins (17).
Cleveland has also elevated David Njoku into a bigger role with Beckham gone. He and Austin Hooper have split routes right down the middle in their last two games (36 apiece).
Njoku is lining up all over the field (44% inline | 36% slot | 28% wide) while Hooper is essentially just a big slot wide receiver. Hooper has aligned in the slot on 61% of his routes in Weeks 9-10.
Jarvis Landry is playing in the slot 67% of the time while Donovan Peoples-Jones is out wide 80% of the time.
The problem is that the Browns have had just two receivers hit 10+ FP in a game over that span — DPJ, who had a 60-yard TD catch as part of a 2-catch game in Week 9, and Hooper, who posted 4/26/1 last week. Good luck picking the right guy here, though at least Detroit’s secondary is a disaster. If you’re looking for a reason to play Jarvis Landry, Ray-Ray McCloud’s numbers from last week would make a case for you.
And barring a setback — can that even happen? — Chubb is going to play.