The boo birds were out in full force for the first half of Browns vs Jets. Well, most of the first half.
Look, you never want to see a player get injured. But Tyrod Taylor’s concussion paved the way for new life to be injected into the Browns’ anemic offense. With Taylor at the helm, fans in the Dawg Pound were forced to watch him go 4-14 for 19 yards Thursday night, missing on throws ranging in difficulty from easy to incredibly easy. The most egregious of the incompletions was a deep ball to Antonio Callaway that you could almost hear quacking as it flew threw the air. Callaway had to come to a full stop on his route and any separation he had from the defense evaporated. The ball was swatted away, and the boo birds got louder, broken up only by even louder chants of “Ba-ker! Ba-ker! Ba-ker!”
Despite a first-half performance from Taylor that more than warranted a benching, we’ll never know if the Browns actually planned to give the fans what they wanted. But once he suffered a concussion and was ruled out for the game, it didn’t matter. Baker they wanted, Baker they got. And if the performance we just saw against an underrated Jets defense is any indication, fantasy owners are about to want him just as badly as the people of Cleveland did.
Coming into the season, everyone knew Cleveland had weapons. They signed Jarvis Landry and Carlos Hyde, drafted Antonio Callaway and Nick Chubb, and rightfully expected David Njoku to take a step forward while Duke Johnson remains a versatile presence in the backfield. Of course, the Browns came in expecting Josh Gordon to be a contributor as well. But even with him shipped off to New England, they have plenty of ingredients to make a delicious offensive cake. And lucky for them, now they have a Baker to put it all together.
Baker Mayfield is capable of being a top-10 QB the rest of the way. Some will call this an extreme overreaction, especially when it’s about a guy who has yet to throw a touchdown in the NFL. But leading a comeback against a revitalized New York defense, while going 17-23 for 201 yards in just over one half of football, is impressive no matter how you look at it. Mayfield was gunning the ball to his receivers, showcasing arm strength that made Tyrod’s arm look like the wet noodle it is.
Good weapons, a strong arm, good decision-making skills, and a good defense. All of these things were on display Thursday night. And we haven’t even mentioned his mobility. It wasn’t on display tonight as he didn’t attempt a rush aside from taking a knee to end the first half, but Mayfield has the elusiveness to sprinkle in a rushing TD every now and then.
The Browns’ schedule going forward is also pretty darn favorable for Mayfield’s fantasy outlook. He’ll face a beatable Raiders defense in Oakland in week four before tough back-to-back tests against the Ravens and Chargers at home. But after that, it’s smooth sailing before the bye. He’ll face the Buccaneers and Steelers away and then the Chiefs and Falcons at home. There’s nothing overly-imposing about those defensive units, so Mayfield will have every opportunity to produce. He’s probably going to be the most-added player off the waiver wire this week, so if you’re in need of a QB, put that claim in ASAP.
Patrick Mahomes and Ryan Fitzpatrick have been the fantasy QB darlings so far this season. But America, meet your newest star. He just led the Browns to their first win since 2016, and he’s capable of leading Cleveland, and your fantasy teams, to plenty more.