It is nightmare fuel to see the number of “out,” “IR,” and “Q” tags that are present when looking at the Thursday night showdown between the Denver Broncos and the Cleveland Browns. Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt have all been officially ruled out in Week 7. Teddy Bridgewater and Odell Beckham Jr. possess questionable labels while Jarvis Landry and Jerry Jeudy have slim chances to be activated from injured reserve.
Given the injuries on the Broncos and the Browns, it could be an ugly game on Thursday night, just like the NFL intended. The Vegas total for this contest began at 44 total points at the beginning of the week, but it has since fallen to 41 total points, which still feels a little high. While trying to create a lineup could induce a headache, here are my favorite captain and flex plays on DraftKings’ showdown contest between the Broncos and the Browns.
Disclaimer: Despite not listing kickers or defense as flex plays, they are both VERY much in play on DraftKings.
Captain Spot Considerations
Courtland Sutton ($15,000)
After starting with a 3-0 record, the Broncos have lost three consecutive games. Amid the team’s losing streak, Courtland Sutton remains one of the constant contributors on the offense. Sutton owns a 22.9% target share in Denver’s offense and he leads the NFL in air yards with 872. Wide receivers are always candidates to be the optimal captain due to DraftKings being a full-point PPR site. If Bridgewater can suit up for the Broncos, then Sutton is in a prime position to have a noteworthy outing in Week 7. You should pair Sutton with Bridgewater or whichever quarterback draws the start for Denver on Thursday night if you use him at the captain spot. On top of all of that, Cleveland’s defense surrenders the sixth-most points per game to WRs on DraftKings.
Noah Fant ($12,300)
The Browns have been stingy to TEs this season to the tune of 9.08 DraftKings points per game (eighth-best mark in the NFL). While that may scare off people from playing Noah Fant, he’s essentially a wide receiver playing the tight end position. Fant has an 83.1% route participation on the season and he has a 19.7% target share on the Broncos. The athletic tight end was dealing with a foot ailment earlier in the week, but he doesn’t carry an injury designation into Thursday. Fant is coming off of his best game of the season in Week 6, where he hauled in nine receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets. Given the assumed low-scoring setting of this matchup, a tight end is capable of being the optimal captain.
D’Ernest Johnson ($6,900)
The Browns boast arguably the best running back duo in the NFL with Chubb and Hunt. However, Chubb and Hunt are both inactive on Thursday, creating an opportunity for D’Ernest Johnson to seize the majority of the running back touches in Week 7. Johnson has been buried on the depth in Cleveland in the past three seasons, totaling 198 rushing yards on 40 carries in his career. Playing Johnson as your captain allows you to fit in some of the expensive pieces in Thursday’s game. If the Browns are forced to play from behind at any point, we could see Demetric Felton handle more snaps in the passing game. So it depends on how you believe the game is going to go when you’re deciding on which running back on the Browns to play. Inserting Felton into your lineup is one way to get leverage on those that plug and play a high-owned Johnson.
Flex Spot Considerations
Tim Patrick ($7,600)
It remains to be seen if Jeudy can make his return to the Broncos in Week 7. Vic Fangio made it seem as if Jeudy is at least one more week away from getting back on the field. While Jeudy remains sidelined, Tim Patrick continues to be a reliable No. 2 wide receiver for the Broncos. Patrick has an 18.7% target share and he hasn’t seen fewer than five targets in the past four weeks. Through the first six weeks, Patrick is tied with Fant for the most receiving touchdowns on the team with three. Being that the Browns have a defense that limits RBs, the Broncos may need to move the ball through the air more often than not. Of course, that could be subject to change if Bridgewater is unable to go as Drew Lock is a downgrade at quarterback.
Odell Beckham Jr. ($6,800)
I know, I know. Why would I play a hobbled Beckham in a game where the Browns are playing their backup signal-caller? Beckham has never been able to find a consistent connection with Mayfield, with both of them never on the same page. Who is to say that Case Keenum won’t be able to do a better job at getting Beckham involved in the offense on Thursday night? It goes without saying that this play is predicated on Beckham being able to go in Week 7. In the event that Beckham is out, Donovan Peoples-Jones would see his role increase in the offense. And if Landry and Beckham are out, Rashard Higgins is a candidate to become a viable option on DraftKings.
Donovan Peoples-Jones ($6,400)
Over the past two weeks, Peoples-Jones has seen an uptick in usage for the Browns. The Michigan product has turned 11 targets into nine receptions, 171 yards, and two touchdowns in the past two weeks. Once Landry returns to the offense, Peoples-Jones could see his role decline a bit. But for the time being, I’m operating under the assumption that Landry will miss another week for the Browns. Cleveland is going to have to throw the ball at least a little with Keenum on Thursday night, and Peoples-Jones has an opportunity to continue his recent streak of success. Denver’s defense has given up the 16th most points per game to WRs in the past month.
Kendall Hinton ($2,000)
Every single week, we are always looking for cheap pieces to plug into our lineups that may have a chance to come out of nowhere and score a touchdown. Kendall Hinton seems to be a slightly lower-owned player that has an opportunity to be the surprise player to find the end zone. Hinton has received 3+ targets in three straight weeks, scoring a combined 19.2 points on the green site in the past two weeks. We all know Hinton as the wideout on the Broncos that was unfairly thrust into playing quarterback last season when Denver was without multiple quarterbacks due to COVID-19. But he’s emerged as the No. 3 wide receiver for the Broncos in recent weeks, logging at least 63% of the offensive snaps in back-to-back weeks.