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Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown: Washington Football Team vs. Cleveland Browns | Week 3

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Washington was roughed up by Arizona last week and now heads to Cleveland to face a Browns team flying high off a resounding victory against the Bengals. Can Cleveland keep the good times rolling? For the 2020 NFL season, Matt Savoca will be providing his weekly NFL Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown column, going through every single game and offensive and defensive matchup, every week of the season. For your viewing convenience, we have broken up the matchups breakdown into several single columns, each one covering a single game. You can find links to every game right here. We have 13 games on tap for Week 3 NFL DFS and NFL Fantasy Football, so let’s dive in. The entire matchups article will be available in podcast form, every Friday afternoon on the Awesemo Podcast Network. Let’s get into Washington – Browns.

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Washington Football Team (18.5) at Cleveland Browns (25.5) – Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Washington Passing Game

After a surprise Week 1 victory over division rival Philadelphia, Washington crashed hard back to earth, getting trounced by Arizona in Week 2. Thanks to a fantastic catch and run from Terry McLaurin, quarterback Dwayne Haskins didn’t have to leave the week without a touchdown pass, but he’s yet to throw more than a single touchdown this season. The underlying metrics aren’t pretty either. Haskins is 25th in adjusted yards per attempt, 28th in clean pocket completion percentage, 30th in play-action completion percentage and 33rd in true completion percentage. This has led, expectedly, to disappointing back-to-back QB27 performances. Haskins’ inability to string together drives makes it extremely difficult for his receivers to outperform their projection-based expectation.

As Washington heads to Cleveland for a Week 3 matchup with the Browns, it looks on paper like it may be closer to Week 2 for this offense than their surprise Week 1. PFF ranks Washington dead last in net passing advantage, indicating this is the most difficult matchup for any offense (based on their PFF grades) compared to the defensive grades of the Browns. It doesn’t look much better for the rushing game either, as they rank 31st in net rush advantage as well. In short, the most likely game script involves Washington falling behind and struggling to keep up the pace, hence their implied total south of 20.


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McLaurin is leading the league in yards after catch and sitting eighth among wide receivers in receiving yards on 8.5 targets per game (top 15 at the position). Not to be entirely unexpected, the catchable target rate is just 71%, 78th in the league. The target accuracy rating, according to PlayerProfiler, is 66th among wideouts. McLaurin remains an elite talent, forced to make the most out of the least. His primary matchup in the Cleveland secondary should be Terrance Mitchell, a matchup PFF has graded as a slight win for McLaurin. McLaurin will have to shake loose early and often in order to get enough accurate targets to hit pay dirt this week, but it’s far from out of the question.

Logan Thomas is the clear-cut secondary option, receiving 22% of the Washington true opportunity share compared to McLaurin’s 25%. Thomas has run the seventh-most routes among tight ends and ranks third in raw targets with 17. Thomas’ underlying efficiency metrics aren’t spectacular (26th among tight ends in yards per route run, 76.4 passer rating when targeted), but his price is right for lineup consideration. At $4,900 salary on DraftKings, Thomas is the 22nd-highest-priced tight-end. Awesemo’s projections have Thomas within the top 15.

Dontrelle Inman (16%), Steven Sims (13%) and J.D. McKissic (13%) round out this low-volume passing attack and aren’t really worth consideration in this negative matchup against a secondary that is improving weekly and getting healthier.


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Washington Running Game

Washington sent guard Brandon Scherff to IR, an extremely tough loss for a team that was already ranked in the bottom 10 in PFF’s run block and pass block grades. Replacing Scherff is Wes Schweitzer, whose 38.3 PFF run block grade was 187th out 200 eligible offensive linemen. This puts Washington at a major disadvantage, even before considering the Cleveland defensive front, which ranks second in PFF’s rush defense grade and eighth in pass rush grade.

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Needless to say, that means it will be tough for Antonio Gibson to get going in this matchup, especially as part of three way time share with McKissic and Peyton Barber. McKissic, with his relatively stable role in the passing game, might be worth a shot in tournaments. On Awesemo.com, McKissic’s projection is vastly higher than his DraftKings positional pricing.

Browns Passing Game

After looking completely out of sorts against Baltimore’s defense in Week 1 (they tend to make opposing quarterback’s look out of sorts), Baker Mayfield returned to relatively decent form against the Bengals, passing for a respectable 9.5 yards per attempt on a conservative 23 passes. The result despite the efficiency was the 20th overall quarterback. Still, this is the type of matchup fantasy gamers will consider streaming Mayfield, as the Browns are heavily favored at home. But there are quite a few red flags that need to be considered before pushing the button on Mayfield in Week 3. Despite Cleveland’s top-three pass block team grade, Washington boasts the fifth-ranked pass rush. It’s not necessarily the most likely outcome, but it’s possible Washington will get pressure at a level closer to Week 1, in that case, Mayfield may be forced into mistakes, as his completion percentage while pressured is 30th in the NFL.

Odell Beckham has an encouraging 3 targets of 20 air yards or more, ranking 17th among wideouts. His Week 2 touchdown came on one of them, but the production outside of that throw has been rather limited. Beckham’s 1.78 yards per route run ranks 42nd, not terrible, but not at the elite level we’ve previously seen from Beckham. He’ll see plenty of Washington’s Fabian Moreau, which PFF has graded as a toss-up (grades within 10%). Even though there’s a threat of Washington disrupting the passing game via their front seven, they don’t really have a corner that can stick with Beckham one-on-one, and his long touchdown and 100-yard upside remains very high against Washington, who he used to routinely beat up twice a year as a member of the Giants. Awesemo’s projections place Beckham ahead of his WR14 salary.

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Jarvis Landry is the team leader in yards per route run with 2.06, placing him 24th at the position. Beyond that, however, Landry’s volume has been quite poor, only receiving 4.5 targets per game and 19% of the team’s air yards, 53rd among wideouts. With an average target distance outside the top 40 as well, and little volume to speak of, it’s hard to trust Landry as a fantasy gamer right now. He’s still priced as a top-36 option and needs 17.5 points to reach 3x value. He’ll likely need a touchdown to help his day, but Landry may have the most advantageous matchup against Washington’s Buster Skrine, leading to a bullish projection compared to salary on Awesemo.com,

The tight end position still seems in flux for the Browns, especially after placing David Njoku on IR after Week 1. Austin Hooper is more a value to the running game than the passing attack. His two receptions on three targets rank 27th among tight ends, and his 8% true weighted opportunity share ranks 34th. Rookie Harrison Bryant could also play a role moving forward. Both will be dart throw plays in Week 3.

Browns Running Game

Washington is no slouch in rush defense, ranking 11th in PFF’s rush defense grade. Nonetheless, Cleveland boasts a slight net advantage due to having the No. 1 graded run blocking offensive line. The Cleveland line is creating massive holes for running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and in the best of game scripts (like the one we saw last Thursday night), they can both be fantasy viable. Chubb is sixth in evaded tackles and first in breakaway runs, dominating these two most important rushing metrics for rushers. Hunt isn’t far behind, ranking sixth in breakaway runs and fifth in evaded tackles. Between the offensive line prowess and the two stellar talents in the backfield, this remains a running a game that can produce transcendent fantasy outcomes. Hunt is the preferred option via Awesemo projections when factoring price, but many, including this article’s author, think this game sets up really nicely for Chubb. He may be worth rostering at his high price, especially at only 1% projected ownership.

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A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position at age 14, I've been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, I love to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone. You can contact me by e-mailing [email protected]

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