Game Overview ::
By mjohnson86 >>
- Cleveland has running back issues due to COVID, but that is highly unlikely to alter their plan of attack.
- New England also has running back issues, and regardless of how that plays out, they are likely to lean towards the pass due to Cleveland’s top 5 run defense.
- Baker Mayfield continues to play his best football without Odell Beckham, Jr.
- New England is on a three-game win streak during which they have allowed only 13.7 points per game.
- Cleveland’s defense really struggled early in the season but has held three straight opponents under 20 points.
How Cleveland Will Try To Win ::
Cleveland is a team with an identity. They locked up two of their stud offensive linemen to long-term extensions in the last week as they commit to this smashmouth identity for the long-term. The Browns currently sport the #1 rushing attack in the league, so it is safe to say their investment is paying off. New England’s defense traditionally tries to be stronger against the pass than the run because they understand that the analytics say that passing is almost always the optimal option for an offense — so they try to encourage their opponents to lean run-heavy. Where they encounter problems is when they face teams who prefer to run and can do it very efficiently. To sum up this paragraph, the design of the Browns offense is the worst-case scenario of an opponent for the Patriots.
The Browns are still without Kareem Hunt, and Nick Chubb’s status is very much up in the air after testing positive for COVID on Tuesday. However, D’Ernest Johnson has more than proven himself when given opportunities and has already had a huge game when given a full workload against the Broncos in Week 8. Baker Mayfield is a great distributor of the ball and has been most effective without Odell Beckham, Jr. on the field — something that makes sense as he makes the right reads and doesn’t feel the need to acquiesce to a specific player to feed them targets. The Browns have a capable, though not elite, stable of receivers and tight ends that Baker does a nice job of spreading the ball around to. The Browns mix up personnel and formations, making it difficult for opponents to plan for and keeping the defense off-balance. Cleveland will lean into their running game to set up play-action passes in the intermediate area as well as some screens and misdirections. It is unlikely that the Browns have any one player with over eight targets and also likely that they have a few players with at least three targets. Cleveland has a better defense, running game, and game manager than New England and will attempt to rely on those three advantages to lead them to victory.
How New England Will Try To Win ::
The Patriots have had their most success in games where they have had success running the ball. If we eliminate their Week 1 loss to the Dolphins (Mac Jones’ debut where the offense was struggling to find itself), the Patriots have scored 24+ points in six of their other eight games. The two games where New England really struggled to move the ball and put up points were against the Bucs and the Saints — a pair of top-5 ranked run defenses. From a macro perspective, this makes a lot of sense. The Patriots have always tried to attack their opponent’s weaknesses and matchups against elite run defenses would naturally force more onto Mac Jones’ plate in the game plan, a tall task considering his receiving corps is very limited from a talent perspective. This is another matchup that fits that description as Cleveland is currently 5th in run defense DVOA. With the Patriots top running backs both recovering from concussions, they could (and likely will) end up throwing the ball at a rate much higher than their season averages.
Likeliest Game flow ::
This game is likely to be very physical and low-scoring. The Browns prefer to build everything they do around their running game and the Patriots defense has been very beatable for offenses besides the Jets and a team quarterbacked by Sam Darnold. The Browns play at the 29th fastest situation-neutral pace and run the ball at the 3rd highest rate in the league. They will be able to maintain that approach in this spot against the Patriots.
While the Patriots are likely to throw the ball more in this difficult matchup for their running game and due to injury concerns, that may be tougher for them than it initially appears. While the Browns passing defense has struggled at times this year, they have been extremely matchup sensitive with most of their mishaps coming against the Chiefs, Chargers, and Cardinals — teams that have a ton of talent in their receiving corps. The Patriots lack high-end talent on the perimeter making it unlikely they are able to make big plays against a defense that quietly ranks 3rd in coverage grade and 4th in pass-rush grade by PFF. While some “metrics” make it look like this would be a good spot for the New England passing game, the “matchups” and context paints a much darker picture.
The overall game flow likely looks something like this:
- Cleveland is able to move the ball while playing slowly and draining the clock, though they may have trouble finishing drives off with touchdowns due to their personnel and New England’s “bend but don’t break” defensive philosophy.
- New England will struggle to move the ball on the ground and through the air but is likely to “find a way” to score points, though it is unlikely to happen in a fantasy-friendly way.
- Neither team is likely to have enough offensive success to force the other team to become significantly more aggressive.
- Both defenses are good enough, and both offenses are low enough on talent, that it is very possible for one or both offenses to put up a very low point total.
TOP PLAYS OF THE WEEKEND
SORTABLE GREEN ZONE TOUCHES
TEAM & PLAYER DK POINTS
DFS+ Interpretation ::
By Alex88 >>
- Vegas total of 45 is the fifth lowest in Week 10
- NE ranks third in pace per numberFire’s adjusted seconds per play (28.1)
- CLE ranks 28th (31.5 secs per play)
- CLE ranks 29th in adjusted pass rate (52.8%), per numberFire
- CLE has scored 40+ pts twice (1-1 win/loss record, 26+ pts three times (2-1), and less than 18 pts in each of their remaining four games (2-2)
- NE has scored 50+ pts once (1-0), 24 to 29 pts five times (4-1), and less than 18 pts in each of their remaining three games (0-3)
- Tied for 17th in PFF’s passing grade with Jacoby Brissett
- 8.5 YPA ranks fifth among qualified QBs, 9.4 ADot ranks fourth
- Baker has yet to hit 35 passing attempts in a game this year
- Halfway through his fourth season, his 28.1 attempts per game is a career low
- His TDs per game and TD rate are also at career lows (1.0 and 3.6%)
- So is his 44.3 QBR
- He has one game with 20+ DK pts
CLE Passing Attack
- With OBJ gone, the WRs took a step back in snap usage
- In the Week 9 blowout victory, the offense was led by tight ends Austin Hooper and David Njoku with 35 snaps each
- WR snap usage: Jarvis Landry 32 // Donovan Peoples-Jones 29 // Anthony Schwartz 28
- Week 9 target count: Landry 5 // Njoku 3 // DPJ 3 // Hooper 2 // Harrison Bryant 2 // Schwartz 1
- No player has a seasonal target share north of 15%
- DPJ’s 29.1 DK pts vs. AZ in Week 6 is the only WR score over 20 on the season
- DPJ has three double-digit performances to Landry’s two
- NE ranks eighth in DK ppg allowed to WRs (34.5)
- Njoku has the only two double-digit TE performances on the team, 10.6 @ KC in Week 1 & 30.9 @ LAC in Week 5
- NE ranks first in DK ppg allowed to TEs (6.5)
- Nick Chubb has tested positive for COVID
- With Kareem Hunt still out hurt, the backfield falls to D’Ernest Johnson again should Chubb fail to clear protocols
- The last time he led the backfield, a short week of preparation in a Week 7 Thursday Night Football matchup against the Denver Broncos, Johnson had 22 attempts for 146 yds and 1 TD & caught both of his targets for 22 yds
- That was good for 27.8 DK pts
- His 86.1 PFF rushing grade ranks fifth among all RBs
- NE ranks 17th in DK ppg allowed to RBs (24.7)
- Only two RBs have topped 20 DK pts against them: Austin Ekeler 24.4 // Alvin Kamara 20.8
- Ranks 11th in PFF passing grade
- 7.1 YPA is tied for 22nd, 7.8 ADoT ranks 25th
- Averaging 23 completions on 33 attempts, 237 yds, 1.1 TDs, and 0.8 INTs per game
- Mac has only topped 20 DK pts once, 25.18 vs. NYJ in Week 7
- CLE ranks 19th in DK ppg allowed to QBs (20.5)
- Opposing QBs have only topped 20 DK pts against CLE three times: Kyler Murray 25.76 // Patrick Mahomes 36.28 // Justin Herbert 45.82
NE Passing Attack
- Snap share: Jakobi Meyers 88.4% // Nelson Agholor 75% // Hunter Henry 69.5% // Jonnu Smith 52.8% // Kendrick Bourne 51.8%
- Target share: Meyers 23.5% // Agholor 13.7% // Bourne 12.7% // Henry 12.4% // Smith 11.1%
- Meyers ranks tenth in total targets, 15th in receptions, 22nd in air yards, and 20th in target share among all WRs
- He still has zero TDs and has yet to hit 20 DK pts
- Agholor is tied for 4th in ADoT among all WRs
- He has no 20 pt DK performances, and only two double-digit scores
- Bourne has the only 20 pt output, 21.6 vs. New Orleans in Week 3
- He’s hit double-digits in four of nine games
- CLE ranks 17th in DK ppg allowed to WRs (37.7)
- Henry averages 9.84 DK ppg, with double digits in four of nine games
- Smith averages 5.4 DK ppg, with double digits in just one of nine games
- CLE ranks 12th in DK ppg allowed to TEs (11)
- Both Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson left Week 9 with head injuries and may miss Week 10
- Brandon Bolden had eight rushes for 54 yds and two receptions for 27 yards with the rest of the backfield ailing, although his 10 touches trailed Harris (16) and Stevenson (12)
- Bolden received a 70.4 PFF rushing grade in Week 9, tied for 10th among all backs
- CLE ranks seventh in DK ppg allowed to RBs (21.3)
- Notable opposing RB scores: Austin Ekeler 33.9 // Joe Mixon 28 // Najee Harris 21 // Javonte Williams 17.2