September 18, 2023, 2:35 pm
Cleveland Browns (1-0) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) Best Lines Available
Browns (-126) @ Steelers (+115): O/U 38.5
Browns -2 (-110), Steelers +2.5 (-118)
Writer’s Week 1 Record:
Bet: 3-0 +3.6u
Lean: 3-0 +3.15u
I got stomped this week in my leans and bets, so I’m back and giving this one away for FREE for everyone for the impending bounceback. You’re welcome. Let’s get to it.
The Browns come into Monday night football after a Week 1 throbbing of the Bengals whilst the Steelers come in after being thrubbed. Of course, it’s football, so we have some guys banged up on both sides and we’ll be keying in there to make sure we’re up to date. The most important update is that starting WR Amari Cooper will be questionable heading into this game. We already know that Diontae Johnson is going to miss this one with a hamstring injury. Let’s see where we land.
Main Storylines to Watch
All the Chubb. It’s true that the Browns will likely be down Amari Cooper, and I have some further insights there, but I’m curious to see if we see mega-Nick Chubb usage sans Cooper. The Steelers are banged up on their defensive front line with Cam Heyward and Larry Ogunjobi dealing with injuries. The Steelers just got ran all over on by Christian McCaffrey, and while Chubb isn’t quite that level in terms of usage, he’ll be used heavily and even in the passing game according to preseason reports. How monster of a line can we get?
Steel curtain or satin curtain? The Steelers keep falling in defensive rankings across the league, which is often an aspect of the game that goes overlooked. They’re beat up, but there’s still no excuse to give up 30+ points to the Niners in Week 1. Can they shore up that defense against a lesser offense, or will they continue to roll over and let the other team score?
Good offense or a preseason anomaly? The Steelers might have fooled everyone through the preseason as Kenny Pickett and company seemed like they were clicking. When Week 1 hit, they managed just one score with Freiermuth getting a short yardage pass in the end zone. They’re down Diontae Johnson now, so can George Pickens step up? Can they get some run game going with Najee Harris against Myles Garrett? This will be a tough matchup for them, so if they struggle again here it will be a big blow to their confidence.
Deshaun Watson: He wasn’t great in Week 1, but he gets a banged up Steelers defense for a bounceback in Week 2. The only question is whether or not he’ll pass the ball much if Amari Cooper has to miss this game. If you drafted him, he’s probably your QB1 and it’s a Monday game, so just start him and hope for the best. Things are leaning towards the under in total points in this game though.
Nick Chubb: The man I’ll have my eyes on most. I have a ton of best ball shares. I’m looking for him to be THE engine of this Browns offense, and I don’t want to see no stinkin’ Jerome Ford! It bodes well he saw four targets in Week 1 through the air. I’d look to see a similar or higher number there, but we know what we’re getting on the ground.
Amari Cooper, Elijah Moore & Donovan Peoples-Jones: This will be the most interesting position to watch on the Browns as they could be down Amari Cooper. Moore saw the same number of targets as Cooper in Week 1, so if Cooper can’t go then we’ll probably see double-digit targets coming Moore’s way. Peoples-Jones only saw two targets in Week 1, but if Cooper misses, he could see double that or more. Really only an option in 16-team leagues and deeper, but might be worth a dart throw in DFS.
David Njoku: Another big target-earner in Week 1 for the Browns, Njoku will shoot up in targets if Amari Cooper can’t go. He’s a high-upside play, and this is an enticing matchup/game script, especially if Cooper misses. If he’s in your lineups for Monday night, rest easy and hope for the best.
Kenny Pickett: It’s trial-by-fire for Pickett early on this season with the Niners defense backed up by Myles Garrett and the Browns defense, but he’ll have to show he can be competent against this level of competition anyways. It was a big letdown in Week 1, but part of that is probably due to the weather. Look for a better week, but the o-line is going to have to protect him better too as he was sacked five times in Week 1. If you have Pickett in a Superflex league, fire him up and hope for the best. He has weapons, even if he’s down Diontae Johnson.
Najee Harris/Jaylen Warren: Absolutely abysmal Week 1 from this back field tandem and Week 2 isn’t shaping up to be any better. Start either of these guys at your own risk, but they should probably get more carries (nine combined) than Week 1, so at least that’s a positive. The question is: Will they be able to gain any yards with those touches?
George Pickens & Allen Robinson II: Fantasy pundits spent all offseason gassing up George Pickens and it’s now or never with the team down Diontae Johnson to a hamstring injury. I’m expecting big things from the athletic receiver tonight, and maybe a big catch or two as the Steelers battle in a close game. If you have Pickens on your team, fire him up and capitalize on that hype. If he fails to produce, this is a tough defense and the Niners were also a tough defense in Week 1, so don’t cut bait just yet.
Pat Freiermuth: Freiermuth was underutilized in Week 1, but escaped with a touchdown through the air. You’re hoping he sees more targets with no Diontae Johnson, but this game is trending towards the under. He’s likely your TE1 and you need to deploy him. Don’t try playing tight end roulette, you’ll miss out on those big games from talented tight ends like Freiermuth.
We have quite a few question marks in this game, but the one thing we have to keep an eye on is Amari Cooper’s status. I placed some of these bets earlier as part of the WagerPass, so I apologize if they have shifted. If you have any questions, you can hit me on Twitter (@EthosKeith) and I’ll answer, or you can drop a message in our FREE Discord if you go to @ethosfantasyfb and click on the link in the pinned tweet to join! Happy to answer anything y’all got for me as we head towards a Monday Night Double Feature!
Lean: Under Total 38.5 (-110) 1.1u to win 1u (Everywhere)
BET: Browns ML (-126) 1.26u to win 1u (FD)
BET: George Pickens O3.5 receptions (+100) 1u to win 1u (DK)
BET: Nick Chubb O13.5 receiving yards (-114) 1.14u to win 1u (MyBookie)
BET: Myles Garret O0.25 sacks (-166) 1u to win 0.6u (DK)