The NFL kicks off Week 10 on Thursday Night Football with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are 2.5-point favorites on DraftKings Sportbook, and the game has been given a total points of 40, one of the lower total points for a Thursday game this season. The point total is also tied for second lowest on the Week 11 slate, which may make appealing fantasy options from this game more scarce.
Steelers RB James Conner (shoulder) is expected to return after missing two games, likely resulting in a diminished role for RB Jaylen Samuels. TE Ricky Seals-Jones (knee) is questionable for the Browns.
Here are some players that fantasy owners can consider starting or sitting in their seasonal leagues.
Start: RB Nick Chubb
RB Kareem Hunt made his debut last week and was heavily featured in the Browns’ passing game, getting nine targets and catching seven passes for 44 yards. Hunt added four carries to bring his touch total up to 11. However, despite Hunt’s involvement, Chubb did not see a decrease in snaps or touches, as the Browns utilized both Chubb and Hunt on the field at the same time for large portions of the game. Chubb played on 81% of the Browns’ offensive plays in the game, a snap rate higher than his season average. Chubb also got 22 touches, including seven red zone touches. With Hunt playing on 54% of snaps in his debut and seeing heavy passing game involvement, he is also in the starting mix in deeper leagues, especially in PPR leagues.
Start: WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham is having a disappointing first season in Cleveland, but he still possesses game-breaking upside that makes him a start even against a Steelers pass defense that has been better than average. Beckham is getting 38% of QB Baker Mayfield’s air yards, ninth highest among all receivers. Beckham has also been better than average at outperforming his expected run after the catch based on factors such as defender distance, which indicates that he is still able to make plays as a ball-carrier.
Sit: QB Baker Mayfield
By passer rating, Mayfield is coming off his best performance of the season, completing 26-of-38 passes for 238 yards and two TDs against a tough Bills defense. While being the home team on a Thursday game is a plus, Mayfield has a difficult assignment against a Steelers defense that ranks third in sacks and has limited QBs to a passer rating of 82.8, sixth lowest and well below the 2019 league average passer rating of 92.1. The game is also expected to be on the lower-scoring side. Mayfield is only worth considering in deeper leagues this week.
Start: RB James Conner
After missing the Steelers’ last two games, Conner fully participated in practice all week and carries no injury designation heading into Thursday’s game, an excellent sign for his workload. Conner is averaging 18 touches per game and has been a top 10 fantasy performer at RB by fantasy points per game. Provided he is not limited, Conner is an easy start against a Browns rush defense that has allowed opposing RBs to be very efficient on a per carry bassis, allowing 4.9 yards per carry, tied for fourth worst. Conner’s return makes RB Jaylen Samuels unappealing as a fantasy starter.
Sit: QB Mason Rudolph
As the road QB on Thursday in a game that is expected to be on the lower-scoring side, Rudolph is not in a great spot, especially given Cleveland’s weak run defense could force-feed James Conner the ball on the ground. Rudolph is averaging just 6.55 yards gained per pass attempt, worse than the league average of 7.4 yards gained per pass attempt.
Start: WR Jarvis Landry
Landry has seen plus target volume, ranking in the top 13 among all WR in targets and seeing double-digit targets in each of his last three games. Landry’s target volume makes him an appealing start candidate in PPR leagues, although a projected low-scoring game against a plus pass defense makes him less of an appealing option in standard leagues.
Sit: Juju Smith-Schuster
Smith-Schuster has been erratic lately and has had a poor fantasy performance in four out of his last six games. With a projected low-scoring game on tap against a Browns defense that ranks in the top-10 in limiting fantasy points to wide receivers, Smith-Schuster does not enter into an appealing matchup this week.