Fantasy News & Analysis

NFL Week 1 Fantasy Football Game Recap: Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals

2RT3HRY Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) is grabbed by Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (22) on a run during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Nick Chubb: 18 carries, 106 yards, 4 receptions, 21 receiving yards

Joe Mixon: 13 carries, 56 yards, 3 receptions, 17 receiving yards

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns

Nick Chubb is in a familiar role: While there was a lot of talk about the Browns offense changing, Chubb’s usage looked very familiar.

  • Chubb was the primary running back on early downs, running for over 100 yards, but he often left the field in passing situations.
  • Jerome Ford was the Browns' primary third-down back, and there were also times when Cleveland opted not to have a running back on the field.
  • Ford also dominated snaps in the fourth quarter when Cleveland had a clear lead. The Browns would often do the exact same thing with Kareem Hunt as the closer.
  • Chubb has historically been among the worst running backs in target share, but he caught all four targets in this game. It was the eighth game in his career with four or more receptions and just his second over the last three seasons.
  • While we might not see a dramatic change in how Chubb is used this season, he should see a few more targets than what he’s received in the last few seasons. 

Monitor Amari Cooper’s playing time: Cooper only ran a route on 22 of the Browns' 35 pass plays.

  • He caught three passes for 37 yards.
  • Cooper spent a little bit of time in the medical tent in the middle of the game but was back by the next drive.
  • He only played in four of Cleveland's 18 offensive snaps in the fourth quarter. This was partially because they stayed in 13 personnel for a lot of the quarter to keep the lead, but he also rarely played in 11 personnel in the quarter. This could have simply been a precaution after the earlier checkup.
  • While that explains most of his low snap count, he also only played in 11-of-17 first-quarter snaps, with Marquise Goodwin taking several snaps from him.
  • This curious usage could make Cooper a sell-high candidate, but it’s too early to know for sure.

The Bengals backfield without Samaje Perine: Perine’s departure seemed to have no impact on Joe Mixon’s playing time.

  • Mixon continued to play the clear majority of snaps on first and second downs, as usual, but he did not play as much on third downs.
  • Mixon took three snaps on third-and-short, Chris Evans received two snaps on third-and-long, and Trayveon Williams played the rest of the third downs.
  • We can expect better performances by Mixon in the future, assuming the entire offense can rebound, but it doesn’t look like his ceiling is any higher this year without Perine.

Consider adding Irv Smith Jr.: Smith made his debut with the Bengals after not playing in the preseason and finished second on the team in receiving yards.

  • Smith caught three of his five targets for 17 yards with one dropped pass.
  • Smith played in 73% of Cincinnati's offensive snaps in 11 personnel while not playing in two tight end sets.
  • It’s not ideal that he didn’t play in 12 personnel, but the Bengals use so much 11 personnel that it shouldn’t matter too much.
  • Smith maintained a 20.8% target rate. Hayden Hurst was the only Bengals’ tight end to accomplish this in a game last season. He did this four times, and it typically corresponded with one or more Bengals’ wide receivers dealing with injuries.
  • The fact that Smith was able to have a high target share with everyone healthy is a good sign he could have a better season than Hurst had with the Bengals last season.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • The Bengals put in some backups for the last few plays of the game, which is why Jake Browning played.
  • Browns third tight end Jordan Akins missed all of the preseason but made his debut with the team in this game. Most of his snaps came from 13 personnel, but he also received more snaps in 11 personnel than Harrison Bryant. He would likely be the handcuff if David Njoku were to get injured this season.

Table Notes

Snaps include plays called back due to penalties, including offensive holding or defensive pass interference. The other three stats have these plays removed.

Targets may differ from official NFL sources. The most likely discrepancy would be from a clear thrown-away pass, where the NFL may give the target to the nearest receiver, while this data will not.

Carries are only on designed plays. Quarterback scrambles won’t count for the total number of carries in the game.


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