Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- These two defenses rank first and third in points allowed per game (BAL – 13.8, CLE – 17.4).
- The tale of the tape starts on the defensive side of the ball for both teams as the Browns rank first in DVOA against both the rush and pass while the Ravens rank third and second, respectively.
- Pierre Strong was on the Browns injury report Wednesday as a non-participant with a hamstring injury.
- Deshaun Watson is off the team’s injury report for the first time in over a month.
- Nothing jumps off the page as an elite GPP play from this game, although Lamar Jackson always carries elite upside in any matchup (and he’s highly unlikely to garner ownership in this matchup and due to his recent fantasy performances).
How Cleveland Will Try To Win ::
The Browns remain built from their defense outward, ranking third in the league in points allowed per game and leading the league in average time of possession (34:11) and offensive plays run from scrimmage per game (71.6). These two teams last played in Week 4 without Deshaun Watson, which resulted in a relative inability to move the football on offense and numerous shortened fields for the Ravens, ultimately leading to a lopsided 28-3 drudging. Watson hasn’t exactly been the poster child for ball security and offensive success this season, but the Browns should find more success with him under center when compared to the Week 4 meeting between these two sides. From a top-down perspective, the Browns would prefer to adopt a run-balanced approach on offense to leverage their defensive prowess, shortening games when able. The problem here is that their opponent is built in a similar way.
The Cleveland backfield has gone through multiple evolutions due to personnel changes this season, settling into a unit led by Jerome Ford when healthy. Ford has primarily been backed up by Kareem Hunt, who came back to the organization as a free agent during the year. Newcomer Pierre Strong has only been utilized in a meaningful way with one of those two not fully healthy this season, which they appear to be entering Week 10. Strong is also on the team’s injury report with a hamstring injury after not practicing on Wednesday. The matchup on the ground is middling, at best, against a Ravens defense holding opponents to 4.0 yards per carry behind 1.34 yards allowed before contact. That said, nose tackle Michael Pierce missed Wednesday’s practice with an illness. Pierce has been a mainstay in the Ravens rush defense and would present a much cleaner on-paper matchup for the Cleveland ground game should he miss. Either way, expect Ford to lead the backfield with clear upside for 20+ running back opportunities, albeit in a difficult on-paper matchup.
As was mentioned above, the Browns lead the league in offensive plays run from scrimmage per game but rank just 19th in pass attempts per game at 33.9, furthering the illustration of the run-balanced preference on offense. The Ravens are in man coverage at a top-10 rate this season, against which Amari Cooper and David Njoku are the only two Cleveland pass-catchers to return above average grades this year. Cooper has managed 0.62 fantasy points per route run against man coverage, good for 15th in the league. Even so, the Ravens are about as elite as they come defensively, mixing scheme with talent to return one of the more lockdown units against the pass this year. The Browns dealt Donovan Peoples-Jones at the trade deadline, which opened up a starting perimeter role for rookie Cedric Tillman. Elijah Moore has played about half of his snaps from the slot but played there almost exclusively in the first game without DPJ in Week 9. Even so, expect his snaps to be limited by an offense that utilizes elevated rates of 12-personnel via Njoku, Harrison Bryant, and Jordan Akins.