With just two weeks to go in the 2023 NFL season, some teams are fighting to make the playoffs and others are likely trying to get a look at what they have in some young players, which is a polite way of saying they’re tanking. The Cleveland Browns sit at 10-5 following a three-game winning streak. Amari Cooper is coming off a monstrous performance last week. His 265 receiving yards in Week 16 broke the Cleveland Browns single-game record and he surely sent several fantasy football managers to their championships in Week 17. Joe Flacco has had quite the impact on this offense over the last few weeks and he has Cleveland poised to make quite the playoff run. As far as the New York Jets go, they’re probably missing Flacco at this point. The team is 6-9, mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, and likely head into 2024 with even more questions at the quarterback position, despite having young stars like Garrett Wilson, Breece Hall, and Ahmad Gardner. But we kick off Week 17 with another showdown slate and it’s one filled with great defensive match-ups to watch, but first we need to identify the top NFL DFS lineup picks between the Browns and Jets.


New York Jets at Cleveland Browns

Spread: Cleveland Browns (-7.5)

Over/Under: 34.5 Points

Weather: Temperatures will be in the mid 40’s with a 10-20% chance of rain. Sustained winds likely won’t exceed 10 mph.

Notable Injuries

New York Jets

Cleveland Browns


Breece Hall, RB, New York Jets

Coming off a monstrous game where he logged 95 rushing yards, 96 receiving yards, and a pair of touchdowns, I think it’s reasonable to assume he’ll carry significant exposure at Captain especially when you consider the tough match-ups for the receivers across the board. Hall carries size and speed while having the ability to break tackles for big gains. He has four runs this season where he gained 30 rushing yards over expected. Hall also caught a dozen passes last week while being targeted more than any receiver in the league. That bodes well because we just saw Houston’s running backs catch six passes last week against this Browns defense. If he can get some attention in the passing game Thursday night, then that can compensate for any shortcomings on the ground as Cleveland has allowed just 47 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs in their last three outings.

Joe Flacco, QB, Cleveland Browns

The “Joe Flacco Is Elite” crowd will have a field day if Flacco goes nuclear tonight. The Browns have had a revolving door at quarterback this year, but Flacco legitimately gives them the best chance to win and he’s been outstanding since being named the starting quarterback. On top of that, the Browns technically still have a shot at the top seed in the AFC. In four games as a starter, he’s attempted at least 42 pass attempts, he’s thrown for 300+ in three straight games, but he also has eight turnovers in this sample size as well. So we have touchdown equity, potential for the bonus, and we’ve seen plenty of volume. Those are three traits that can make a quarterback optimal at Captain. Rushing volume? Not with this guy, but if he pops off for 25+ fantasy points again, even in a tough match-up, he’ll be optimal. Because the Jets are so good at defending opposing wide receivers this is still a tough spot for Flacco as well. But he also has familiarity with this team and defense. I expect Flacco to play the role of savvy vet on his way to another win as the Browns quarterback.

Garrett Wilson, WR, New York Jets

Trevor Siemian wasn’t great by any means last week, but he got the ball into the hands of his two best players. Breece Hall had 16 targets last week and Wilson had 15. They accounted for over two-thirds of Siemian’s target share. It was the seventh game since Week 4 where Wilson had at least a dozen targets. Are there certain factors working against him in this match-up? Absolutely. He only has three touchdowns on the year and the Browns defend the position well. Since Week 8, only the Los Angeles Rams’ wide receivers were able to rack up more than 140 receiving yards against Cleveland’s secondary. It’s a tough match-up but if he’s getting a dozen targets once again then I won’t completely write him off.

David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns

I’m always a little weary of using a tight end at Captain on Showdown slates simply because they don’t have the “big play” upside of wide receivers. But we’re almost downgrading all the wideouts in this game so that’s good news for Njoku. In four games with Joe Flacco at quarterback, Njoku has seen 24 catches on 37 targets and he’s found the end zone in three straight games. That’s been the story with Njoku all year. Any quarterback not named Deshaun Watson has managed to get him the ball. The Jets can shut down the perimeter with ease, but they don’t defend the tight end position very well and Amari Cooper is a little beat up with a heel injury after Sunday’s monstrous game. So it’s possible Njoku leads the team in targets Thursday night. That’s not a bad deal for the eighth-most expensive player on the board for this game. The Jets allowed Logan Thomas to catch five passes and find the end zone just last week. We know Njoku boasts a far higher ceiling.

Mid-Tier & NFL DFS Value Plays

Amari Cooper, WR, Cleveland Browns

You know how we say to give every player a clean slate with each passing week in DFS? The same principle holds true for players who have great games. Cooper popped off for 11-265-2 on 15 targets last week. It was a record-breaking day, but it came at the cost of a heel injury on a short week. Collectively, no team defends wide receivers as well as the New York Jets. And that applies to perimeter receivers, flankers, slot receivers, etc. This secondary of Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, D.J. Reed, and Michael Carter II are an absolute challenge. But if Cooper draws more coverage against Reed than Gardner then that could be a neutral match-up overall. Cooper could still demand a 25% target but it’s a very tough spot for him especially with a heel injury. If you’re playing the “leverage” game that might lead to softer exposure to Cooper in DFS.

Trevor Siemian, QB, New York Jets

Siemian isn’t a great option, but he was serviceable last weekend against a far easier defense. He probably isn’t completing 60% of his pass attempts and he also has five turnovers in his last two games with just one touchdown pass. If you want the correlation with Hall or Wilson at Captain, then I totally get it. But you also don’t need to force the correlation in a match-up like this. He’s the sixth-most expensive player on the board, but he could also finish with less than 10 fantasy points.

Jerome Ford, RB, Cleveland Browns

I initially had Ford in my MVP/Captain section, but ultimately I swapped him out for Flacco. My reservation with Ford is the workload. He has just one game all year with more than 20 fantasy points on DraftKings. But it’s not like the play is completely void of touchdown equity. In each of their last three games the Jets have held opposing running backs to under 90 rushing yards. However, in that same sample size they’ve given up six touchdowns on the ground. Now Ford has not been the most efficient runner at times and he’s pretty easy to tackle. He had just 115 rushing yards on 44 carries in his last four games. But we have seen game scripts for him where he gets five targets. With the passing game involvement and the touchdown equity, I think I can stomach rostering him at Captain despite the inefficiency, but I won’t go overboard.

Elijah Moore, WR, Cleveland Browns

Moore carries some appeal if Cooper is out or limited in any capacity. All of Cleveland’s wide receivers are downgraded this week and it seems like he could see a good amount of Sauce Gardner on the perimeter. After seeing a dozen targets in Week 13 against the Los Angeles Rams, Moore has seen just 13 total targets in his last three games for just 78 total receiving yards, but we’ll know he wants the ball in this game. He still has some big play upside and there’s the “revenge game” narrative for both Moore and Flacco to connect on a deep bomb. 

Kareem Hunt, RB, Cleveland Browns

Hunt isn’t a great play, but he’s a cheaper pivot off Jerome Ford and he could still see anywhere from 8-to-12 touches. More importantly he gets the high-value short yardage work. He grabbed a one-yard touchdown run last week against Houston and he had a four-yard touchdown run back in Week 14 against Jacksonville. He’s appeared in 13 games but has eight rushing touchdowns. Ideally, we probably need multiple scores from him in this match-up because he’s averaging less than two yards per carry in his last three games. 

Tyler Conklin, TE, New York Jets

This is a horrendous spot for Conklin. Our resident tight end expert, Andrew Cooper, always advises our FAmily of not utilizing tight ends against the Cleveland Browns. For most of the season, they’ve been a brutal match-up for tight ends. However, in their last three games Cleveland has surrendered 26 receptions, 206 receiving yards, and three touchdowns to opposing tight ends. Moreover, Conklin has at least four receptions in four of his last five games. Again, that’s not great, but even though Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson commanded most of the target share last week Conklin still managed to see seven targets from Siemian. I’m more encouraged by Cleveland’s struggles against the tight end position, but this could be a spot where we pay down for more upside.


I never thought I’d say this regarding kickers, but we do need to monitor inactives later today for updates on this position. Dustin Hopkins has already been ruled out for Cleveland so Riley Patterson ($4,800) likely starts in his place after he spent some time with the Detroit Lions this year. The Jets are a great match-up for opposing kickers. Opposing kickers have returned double-digit fantasy points in 8-of-15 games this year against New York. That speaks to the quality of their red zone defense. With a low total, and the Browns favored by a touchdown, that could work to Patterson’s favor. Kickers have attempted at least two field goals in all but three games against the Jets. The price is a little gross for a kicker with a new team on a short week, but there might be enough volume for him in this game script.

Greg Zuerlein ($4,600) is currently questionable with a quad injury. But the player pool on DraftKings doesn’t have an additional kicker for the Jets. So if The Leg is inactive for this game, we just don’t play any kickers for the Jets. I don’t think that decision will be made for us, so I’m operating as if he plays. In Cleveland’s last three games, opposing kickers have attempted just one field goal and only two opposing kickers have reached double-digit fantasy points all year. The Jets have an implied team total of roughly 13.5 points so if Trevor Siemian and this offense can’t move the ball, that doesn’t bode well for whoever is kicking for the Jets.

Defenses/Special Teams

Both are in play and both should have plenty of exposure. The Cleveland Browns are at that dreaded $5,500+ threshold on DraftKings. We’ve seen defenses at this price be very popular and fail to deliver double-digit fantasy points. But the Browns do get an outstanding match-up. Opposing D/ST’s against the New York Jets have returned double-digit fantasy points in 8-of-15 games this year. In six of those games opposing defenses have gone for over 15 fantasy points and since Week 9, four D/ST’s have gone for 20+ fantasy points against this horrible offense. While it’s certainly a “fish” move to go all in on the Browns D/ST for this Showdown slate, there’s clear upside here and the Browns are limiting opposing offenses to just 12.4 points per game and 197.9 yards per game when they play at home.

The New York Jets are reasonably priced at $4,000 and do have some appeal. The Browns offense has been functioning very well with Joe Flacco under center, but we have made note of his ball security issues. He has eight turnovers in four games as the Browns starting quarterback and the Jets still have a great secondary as we’ve discussed ad nausea throughout this article. But they do tend to play better at home than on the road. Away from Metlife Stadium they’re surrendering 23.2 points per game and over 300 yards of offense and they only have three takeaways in their last four games, with all three of those coming in Week 16. But it’s a low total that was been bet down from 36.5 points earlier in the week. It’s a short week with a holiday on Monday for both teams so we could see a sloppy game all around, which puts both teams in play.

NFL DFS Dart Throw Bargains

Cedric Tillman, WR, Cleveland Browns

From a talent perspective, he doesn’t quite keep up with Cooper, Njoku, or even Moore. But Tillman does line up in the slot a fair amount and if there’s one spot where we could consider a receiver against the Jets, it might be in the slot against Michael Carter II. It’s still a tough match-up overall, but Tillman is only $3,000 on DraftKings and he’s seen 20 targets in four games with Flacco under center.

Jason Brownlee, WR, New York Jets

There’s certainly some interest in Xavier Gipson ($3,200) on DraftKings, but I almost prefer Brownlee for $400 less. Gipson has at least six targets in two of his last four games so there’s some intrigue. However, Brownlee played over 80% of the offensive snaps last week. Sure, he also found the end zone, but I’m more interested in the fact that he’s on the field more and I’m hopeful that trend continues Thursday night.

Israel Abanikanda, RB, New York Jets

Not a lot to love about the rookie running back but he does have 18 touches in his last three games. This is that time of year where organizations like to get a look at their younger players, so they’d obviously like to get more looks with him than Dalvin Cook. But Abanikanda is dealing with an ankle injury so if he’s ruled out, then Cook does have some appeal even if he is washed.