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Thursday Night Football Matchups Analysis - Week 3


I have already written A.J. Green an apology letter.

After noting that I would "hesitantly" put the Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver in the must-start category for last week's Thursday Night Football Matchups column due to the Baltimore Ravens' history of finding ways to keep him in check, he subtly responded by catching three touchdown passes in as many targets en route to a victory. Fantasy owners can be rest assured that Green will continue his dominance as his team's No. 1 wide receiver and my apology letter is in the mail.

In the meantime, next Thursday night features a tilt between two teams who are looking to defy expectations and push for playoff contention: the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns. The Browns, in particular, have a lot to prove as they look to get their first win of the 2018 season, but fantasy football is all about the players and who to plug into your lineups. Without building the atmosphere any further, let's dive into this week's Thursday Night Football matchup analysis!

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!

 

New York Jets @ Cleveland Browns

Date and Start Time: Thursday, September 20 at 8:00 PM ET

Notable Injuries and Status:

 

Offensive and Defensive Rankings:

Jets Browns
Passing Yards  15th 27th
Rushing Yards  16th 4th
Pass Defense  8th  22nd
Run  Defense  11th  20th

 

Must Starts

Top Performers That Have To Be In Your Lineup

Quincy Enunwa (WR, NYJ)

It's ironic that the description immediately popping into my mind for Enunwa as "a poor man's Jarvis Landry" is in a matchup where said player happens to be on the other team. While the Cleveland Browns defense ranks 22nd against the pass this season, the caliber of wideouts they have faced through their first two games is quite high. Enunwa certainly isn't in the same conversation talent-wise as Antonio Brown or Michael Thomas, but fantasy owners should get a reliable floor option from the strong connection he has with Sam Darnold and the double-digit targets he has posted through two consecutive games.

Jarvis Landry (WR, CLE)

Speaking of high-floor, low-ceiling options, Landry's stock is on the immediate rise given the departure of Josh Gordon to New England. Fantasy owners in PPR formats can rest assured knowing that Landry has caught at least five passes in 19 straight games and will be facing off against extremely vulnerable New York Jets slot defensive backs. This matchup is one where Landry's ceiling is certainly a cut above his normal fantasy profile and it makes him the most likely to finish the game as Thursday night's top fantasy contributor.

 

Consider Sitting

Players To Avoid Putting In Your Lineup If Possible

Sam Darnold (QB, NYJ)

Darnold looks extremely promising as a rookie and New York Jets fans have plenty of reasons to think that the future is bright. Unfortunately for his fantasy prospects, it is extremely difficult to put Darnold in the streaming conversation when he has only finished as high as the QB-18 this year and is facing off against a Cleveland Browns defense that held Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees in check this season. Owners should ultimately look elsewhere if they have the luxury.

Isaiah Crowell (RB, NYJ)

The curious case of Isaiah Crowell is one that could develop into a better situation if he develops a role on passing downs, but that remains to be seen. While Crowell has a slight edge in the touch share in this backfield rotation with 10 and 14 touches in his previous two contests, his success will be heavily game-script dependent if the New York Jets can get out to an early lead. It is incredibly difficult to take that bet for a possible flex option.

Robby Anderson (WR, NYJ)

Don't expect the production from Anderson when Josh McCown was under center to re-surge anytime this season, as the New York Jets are truly the Darnold-Enunwa show and the targets show it. Anderson has been out-targeted 21-6 to Enunwa and he should be valued as a deep threat WR4 play against a stingy Cleveland Browns secondary.

Duke Johnson (RB, CLE)

The new deal that Johnson signed this offseason signaled positive signs for his usage, but it hasn't exactly translated to this point with the pass-catching specialist only having had 11 total touches through two games. Much like with Isaiah Crowell, Johnson's success will depend on game-flow and whether the situation calls for his skills. Johnson is the equivalent of a WR4/5 play in a game that shouldn't have him on the field much.

Antonio Callaway (WR, CLE)

The extremely talented rookie will now have a more pronounced role with Josh Gordon out the door and last week's 47-yard touchdown was a positive step to securing more targets. As a waiver wire add who many owners may think to plug-and-play this week, remember that he only had one catch on two targets until the final two minutes of his Week 2 matchup. Holding steady to see if his role increase over time is easily the best scenario to determine if he can develop into a weekly fantasy contributor.

Other Notable Sits: Jermaine Kearse (WR, NYJ), Eric Tomlinson (TE, NYJ), Nick Chubb (RB, CLE), Rashard Higgins (WR, CLE)

 

Solid Options/Sleepers

Which Players Will Have Solid Games and Which Could Surprise?

Solid Option: Tyrod Taylor (QB, CLE)

Fantasy owners looking for a quarterback streamer should look to the quarterback with a solid rushing floor. Taylor may be heading into what should be a low-scoring affair, but he also has a history of finishing as a solid quarterback option against the New York Jets in the past. Keep his name in mind when you decide on which quarterback to start.

Solid Option: Carlos Hyde (RB, CLE)

Would you believe me if I said the Cleveland Browns currently rank fourth in the league in rushing yards per game and Hyde has the sixth-most touches in the NFL? While his top-shelf volume hasn't exactly translated into success with 2.9 yards per carry to his name, Hyde makes for a good high-floor play for owners who has the best chance out of anyone in that backfield of finding the endzone.

Sleeper: Bilal Powell (RB, NYJ)

The Cleveland Browns are vulnerable to spell backs, allowing a cumulative 12 catches for 114 yards to James Connor and Alvin Kamara over the last two games. Owners who intend to chase the PPR value could certainly do worse the Powell in a game where the number of dump-off passes could be high for the New York Jets offense.

Other Notable Sleepers: David Njoku (TE, CLE)

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