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Jacoby Brissett will be under center tonight for the Cleveland Browns as Mitch Trubisky, and the Pittsburgh Steelers come in for a Thursday Night Showdown slate. Brissett is in a run-first offense but still will have his opportunities to send the ball downfield. We can expect a couple of carries out of him, but it is unlikely they’ll turn to him over one of their dominant backs. Trubisky hasn’t had a great two starts, and people are calling for his job, but we can still anticipate about 35 pass attempts out of him.
The Cleveland Browns feature football’s most dominant room and will spread the rock around. Nick Chubb is coming off a three-touchdown game and will be the lead back, seeing about 20 carries. Kareem Hunt will receive some volume, but his high upside comes through the air, where he could become a significant factor if things break his way. No third running back will have a role in this offense, but Demetric Felton Jr. has turned more into a receiver, so he is a factor for a potential gadget play out of the backfield.
Najee Harris will be the Steelers’ workhorse back, but he has not yet seen the volume we anticipated going into the season. There has been some chatter about a lingering foot injury he is facing, but Harris has continued to say he is okay. He has an upside of 20+ carries and could be a significant factor in the passing game. Jaylen Warren will rotate in to give Harris a breather, but his ceiling is only about five total touches.
Amari Cooper will be Brissett’s first passing option in this offense, and we saw that come together last week when he had a nine reception performance. The Browns still want to pound the rock with Chubb and Hunt, but we saw Cooper register double-digit targets when there were 37 carries, so he’ll be a factor regardless. Donovan Peoples-Jones will be the WR2, with inconsistency being a concern as he had eleven Week 1 targets and only one in Week 2. There is no role in this offense for a third or fourth receiver, so David Bell and Anthony Schwartz likely will only have minimal opportunities.
Diontae Johnson has cemented himself as Pittsburgh’s WR1, with double-digit targets being the expectation at this point, given the back-to-back weeks with such. Chase Claypool will be the WR2 and saw a respectable six targets in each of the first two games. He can take the top off the defense, but Trubisky hasn’t shown us the ability to get it to him just yet. George Pickens came into the year with tons of hype but has only combined for five targets through two games. He can be a deep ball threat like Claypool though there is a higher likelihood of those plays being drawn up for Claypool. Miles Boykin and Gunner Olszewski will rotate in, if active, but shouldn’t be a factor for more than a single target or two.
David Njoku will be Brissett’s top tight end target and a viable red-zone threat who will be on the field for nearly all the snaps. Cleveland operates a lot of two tight end sets, which limits the viability of the third wide receiver in this offense, so look for Harrison Bryant to be fed a couple of targets as the TE2.
Pat Freiermuth has combined for 17 targets over the first two games and has become Trubisky’s second favorite target in this offense. He has a solid red-zone upside that will provide great value here. Zach Gentry will be the TE2, but he is only a threat to see a target or two at most.
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