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COVID-weakened Browns

Do COVID issues make Higgins a sleeper?

The Browns have placed 18 players on their COVID-19 reserve list, with most of them probably missing Saturday’s game against the Raiders. With Las Vegas having a lesser defense (only the Jets have allowed more points) does this create the potential to cash in on some players who are currently sitting on waiver wires?

I think specifically of Rashard Higgins. Jarvis Landry is among the COVID casualities, Odell Beckham is gone and Anthony Schwartz has been in the concussion protocal for a month (and also has limited experience). They’re also missing tight end Austin Hooper. So I’m thinking they’re going to need to get a lot more out of Higgins. Donovan Peoples-Jones (rostered in fantasy leagues) should be their leading pass catcher, but Higgins looks like the guy who will be next in line. Either him or tight end David Njoku (who went on the COVID list last week, so I’m figuring he’ll be cleared before Saturday).

Cleveland probably will be playing without Baker Mayfield, but I’m not sure that hurts them. Case Keenum might be pretty similar to Mayfield at this point.

I just wish that Higgins was playing better. He was pretty good last year, when the offense didn’t miss Beckham much at all. But Higgins has been lightly used and ineffective this year.

Last year Higgins was used in a starter-type role in 13 games. That is, there were 13 games (including the two playoff games) where he was on the field for over half of their plays. He caught 43 passes for 706 yards and 4 TDs in those games. That’s 54 yards per week.

But this year, Higgins was been kind of a disaster. There have been six starter-type games, and in them he’s caught only 10 of the 23 passes thrown his way, for just 132 yards (and with no touchdowns). That translates to 22 yards per game.

I would like to think or hope that some of this is Mayfield’s fault, with Higgins perhaps getting sparked by Keenum. But that didn’t occur in the run-dominated win over the Broncos. Higgins caught only 1 pass in that game, and it lost yardage.

The offensive line could also be a factor. Jack Conklin is out for the year, and two other starts are on the COVID list, so it’s a lesser, re-worked group now. (Maybe it’s the Raiders’ pass rush that will be the big winners in this game.)

I played around with the numbers some. I think there’s some potential with Higgins. But I don’t see enough that I expect to seriously consider adding him in any leagues.

2020Ind.W 32-23333110.31
2020at Pitt.L 7-38211313.01
2020at Cin.W 37-346611018.30
2020L.V.L 6-16311414.00
2020Hou.W 10-7434816.00
2020Phil.W 22-17436521.70
2020at Jac.W 27-25211515.00
2020at Ten.W 41-35969515.81
2020Balt.L 42-471066811.31
2020at NYGW 20-6547619.00
2020Pitt.W 24-22325527.50
2020at Pitt.W 48-37722814.00
2020at K.C.L 17-22758817.60
2021Hou.W 31-21222713.50
2021at Min.W 14-7746315.80
2021Ariz.L 14-37300--0
2021Den.W 17-1421-2-2.00
2021Pitt.L 10-15422713.50
2021Det.W 13-10511717.00

—Ian Allan

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