Week 7 Thursday Night Showdown: Denver Broncos At Cleveland Browns

by Matt Babich, October 21, 2021

Advanced stats and analytics will be utilized to identify favorable matchups and players to avoid. The purpose of this article is to paint a picture of how the teams play and matchup with one another in less than 1,000 words.

As the season continues, less emphasis will be put on last season and early season’s stats. Vegas trends will also be implemented to help predict the game flow. I’ll conclude the article with a Cliff Notes section and give the readers my prediction for the game.

Welcome to the newest edition of Thursday Night Showdown. I’ll be guiding you through the important aspects to watch in each Thursday night matchup.

Without further ado, let’s see what the Denver Broncos and the Cleveland Browns have in store for us.

Vegas Trends

  • The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Denver’s last 6 games.
  • Denver are 11-3 ATS in their last 14 Thursday night games.
  • Denver are 11-1 SU in their last 12 games against Cleveland.
  • The total has gone OVER in 6 of Cleveland’s last 9 games.
  • Cleveland are 5-14 ATS in their last 19 games against an AFC opponent.
  • Cleveland are 1-5 SU in their last 6 games when playing at home against Denver.

Denver Broncos

Teddy Dimes and a Split Backfield

Despite a rough game on paper, Teddy Bridgewater still managed to rack up over 300 passing yards3 touchdowns, and 21.3 (No. 12 among qualified quarterbacks) Fantasy Points. The veteran game manager has performed well this season, posting a 7.7 (No. 12) Accuracy Rating10 (No. 12) Passing Touchdowns, and 32 (No. 3) Deep Balls. Teddy Deep Ball finds himself against the league’s third-worst defense vs quarterbacks. He’s a start in 2QB formats against a broken Browns team.

Teddy Bridgewater 2021 Efficiency Metrics

Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams are being used in exact the same way. Gordon has seen 70 (No. 19) carries16 (No. 31) targets, and 67.1 (No. 23) Weighted Opportunities, while Williams is at 65 (No. 23) carries15 (No. 35) targets, and 62.8 (No. 28) Weighted Opportunities. Both have similar efficiency metrics as well, but it’s been Gordon who’s been more fantasy viable.

Melvin Gordon 2021 Productivity, Advanced Receiving, & Efficiency Metrics

Against a stout Browns run defense, Gordon is Flex-able. Given the projected Game Script, Williams is Flex-able in deeper leagues.

The Broncos Receiving Core

Courtland Sutton has been feasting in his feature role. He’s earned a 43.3-percent (No. 6) Air Yards Share, posted 100-plus receiving yards in two games, and seen 200-plus Air Yards in two games. He’s currently in WR2 status with 15.4 (No. 21) Fantasy Points per Game. His likely matchup against PlayerProfiler’s No. 11-ranked CB Denzel Ward is a tough one, but Cleveland gives up the fifth-most fantasy points to receivers. Start the alpha tonight.

What the government won’t tell you, is that Tim Patrick is good at football.  He’s scored at least 10 fantasy points in every game but one this season, and has seen at least six targets in each of the last six games. He’s consistently a WR3, and his workload has increased over the last 3 weeks. Against No. 51-ranked CB Greedy Williams and a relatively soft Browns secondary, Patrick is flexible in PPR formats.

Tim Patrick 2021 Game Log

The biggest beneficiary of the Jerry Jeudy injury, Noah Fant is improving on his solid sophomore campaign. The eighth-highest scoring TE is seeing a 19.7-percent (No. 5) Target Share and a 14.2-percent (No. 16) Air Yards Share. Last week Fant posted season highs across the board in box-score stats, and was the number one tight end in fantasy football. With the Broncos consolidated Target Share, he is a weekly starter.

Cleveland Browns

A Backup QB and a Broken Backfield

Case Keenum takes over for the injured Baker Mayfield. The last time Keenum played a full game was 2019, where he averaged 171.9 passing yards1.1 touchdowns, and 10.8 (No. 32) Fantasy Points per Game. The Browns team is broken. There won’t be many starts on this team and Keenum isn’t one of them.

D’Ernest Johnson is an intriguing add with injuries to both Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb. His athletic profile is not great. He’s only seen 33 carries so far, but did have a 95 total yard game in 2020. Against a stout Broncos rush defense, Johnson is a sit but worth the roster add.

D’Ernest Johnson Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Demetric Felton is listed as a running back on the Browns roster, so he’ll be sure to see his first carries of the season tonight. What Felton offers that Johnson doesn’t is receiving upside. He has 90 (No. 35) receiving yards on 8 (No. 46) receptions. Felton is an electric playmaker. While I wouldn’t rely on him scoring points, his upside this week makes him a risky flex option in deeper PPR leagues.

Scraps Of A Receiving Core

Donovan Peoples-Jones finally cashed in on his pre-season hype last week. He racked up a 4-101-2 stat-line and finished as the WR5. He’s looked solid these past two weeks, earning 5-plus targets in both. With Odell Beckham likely out and Jarvis Landry still not activated off of IR, Peoples-Jones has upside. With Case Keenum at the helm, you’re better off exploring different options.

Donovan Peoples-Jones Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Jarvis Landry is supposed to be activated off of IR and play tonight. As I’m typing, he has not been activated quite yet. In his one full game in Week 1, he posted 5 receptions for 71 receiving yards and finished as the WR17. This is the only Brown I would start. The Tom Savage Corollary gives the first read the advantage with backup quarterbacks, and that will be Landry. While his health and Case Keenum are both big concerns. The Browns will have to throw the ball often to win, and Landry has the safest floor of all fantasy options.

One week following his 149-receiving yard explosion and TE2 finish, David Njoku saw merely 2 targets on 11 routes. He has the talent, but doesn’t see enough of a consistent Target Share to be reliable in fantasy formats. Last week’s dud was illogical. How few routes he ran in a negative Game Script matchup with a depleted receiving core doesn’t make sense. I expect this to change and for Njoku to see much more work tonight. He is startable if you are streaming tight ends and don’t have many options.

Final note: Odell Beckham Jr. has suffered a “significant” shoulder injury and is  OUT of this game.

fantasy-football-dynasty-league-rankings

Cliff Notes

Conclusion

This Browns team is in trouble. Denver has a solid defense and has been gifted a team that’s losing starters by the week. I expect Denver to take complete control of this game and give Cleveland a good thwacking.

I’m not sure how the Broncos are opening the day as a +2 points road underdog, but I’m smashing this line. This seems almost too easy, but it isn’t. I’m all in on Denver’s +106 Money-line as well. As for the 40.5 point total, this is a line I’d stay away from. I do expect the over to hit, though. Denver will put up close to 30 points, which doesn’t force the Browns to put up much production for it to hit. However, with the state of the Browns as they stand you can’t rely on them to do much of anything tonight.

Prediction: Broncos 27-16