Nick Mensio

Football Daily Dose

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Dose: Rookie Role Questions

Wednesday, October 3, 2018


The Browns have an exciting trio of rookies on the offensive side of the ball. We all know about No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield by now, but drafted behind him were second-rounder Nick Chubb and fourth-rounder Antonio Callaway. The latter two were the subject of a few interesting remarks from coach Hue Jackson this week. One positive and one a bit on the negative side.

After Chubb again showed a knack for the big play in the Week 4 shootout loss to the Raiders with three carries for a whopping 105 yards and two touchdowns — from 63 and 41 yards out — Jackson believes the rookie “has to get some.” We assume that means more work. “Carlos Hyde is playing well, but this guy is scoring touchdowns from long ways away," Jackson said. "We have good backs. We know that. Sometimes it is going to be hit and miss where some other guy is making it happen and then the other guy goes in and does it." The problem for Chubb is Hyde has been pretty good in his own right, especially around the end zone with five rushing touchdowns through four games. His 3.4 YPC average is, well, below average. Perhaps Chubb, who is averaging a whopping 14.6 YPC will get a few more looks between the 20s with Hyde still keeping his goal-line job. For now, Hyde remains a strong back-end RB2, while Chubb is a must-own stash. Hyde has a lengthy injury history. Should he ever go down, Chubb would come with massive RB1 upside.

On to Callaway. Since the deactivation and trade of Josh Gordon, Callaway has been working as the Browns’ unquestioned No. 2 wideout. He’s seen a total of 23 targets in the three games but has put really uneven play on tape. For the year, Callaway has corralled just 10-of-24 targets for 155 yards and one score. He caught a big touchdown late in Week 2 and has put his speed on display, but drops and miscues have dominated his last two games. Callaway has dropped multiple passes in each of the past two weeks and has just 74 scoreless yards on 19 targets in that span. Jackson hinted Callaway’s snaps could be dialed back moving forward. Maybe the Browns will flip the roles of he and No. 3 wideout Rashard Higgins, giving Higgins even more reps in two-wide sets. Higgins is a favorite of Baker Mayfield’s after the two ran the second-team offense together all summer. Higgins is worth picking up as a speculative WR4/5 with some upside as this offense grows. Callaway has all of the talent in the world and still needs to be owned as a boom-bust WR4.

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Patricia Thinks Johnson is Getting Enough Work

Second-round rookie Kerryon Johnson, picked eight slots after the Browns took Chubb, has been one of the Lions’ biggest bright spots the past two weeks. He became the Lions’ first 100-yard rusher in a game since 2013 in the Week 3 upset win over the Patriots and answered it with a fine 9-55-1 rushing day against the Cowboys last Sunday. He opened the game with a 32-yard run and later flattened S Jeff Heath on the way to the end zone for a red-zone touchdown. The problem is the nine carries were just two more than LeGarrette Blount, and Johnson continued to play fewer snaps than Theo Riddick. He deserves more work, but coach Matt Patricia doesn’t seem open to it.

"We feel that we have a really good strong running-back group," Patricia said. "They’re all outstanding players and we’re just going to continue to try to improve them just like we are every position." A disciple of Bill Belichick, Patricia appears to be adhering to the Patriot Way of mixing and matching at running back with total unpredictability. It’s frustrating for Johnson’s fantasy outlook, especially when Blount isn’t producing much, and Riddick is a pedestrian player in his own right. Johnson will remain a high-ceiling, low-floor RB2 for the foreseeable future until/unless he gets more volume.

Rams Make Move at Kicker

It’s not often kicker news is important, but for those still playing fantasy with kickers, Tuesday’s move by the Rams to swap out Sam Ficken for Cairo Santos is worth noting. Ficken was 1-for-3 on field goals in two games since replacing an injured Greg Zuerlein (groin), who still isn’t ready. Santos was one of the more accurate kickers in his time with the Chiefs but has been injured for the better part of the last year and spent the summer with the Jets. Whoever kicks for the Rams is automatically one of the premier fantasy players at his position. Santos needs to be added in kicker leagues.

Quarterback & Running Back Quick Slants

Free agent RB Orleans Darkwa worked out for the Jaguars, who are expected to be without Leonard Fournette (hamstring) for multiple weeks. … The Colts waived RB Jeremy McNichols and added RB Jonathan Williams to their practice squad. RB moves in Indy are always worth watching due to the state of their backfield. Robert Turbin is due back from suspension this week. Marlon Mack (hamstring) is tentatively due back this week after missing the past two games. … Coach Sean Payton said “we’ll figure out the balance” between returning Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Kamara will remain the focal point as an elite RB1. … Coach Mike Tomlin said he’s yet to speak to holdout Le’Veon Bell, who is expected to end his vacation during the Week 7 bye. … Jerry Jones expects Ezekiel Elliott (ankle, knee) to play Week 5 against the Texans. We have very little concern.

Wide Receiver & Tight End Quick Slants

Seahawks placed TE Will Dissly on IR with a torn patella tendon, further hollowing out an already-thin tight end spot in fantasy. … Jack Doyle (hip) remained sidelined at Colts practice and looks unlikely to play Thursday night in New England, leaving Eric Ebron firmly on the TE1 map. … Rob Gronkowski (ankle) remained out at Tuesday’s practice. He’s in real question for Thursday night. … T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) is not practicing and has already essentially been ruled out for Week 5. … Tom Brady has “no doubt” Julian Edelman will be ready to roll this week coming off his suspension.



Nick Mensio is a football writer for Rotoworld.com. The 2014 NFL season marks his third with Rotoworld. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.
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