The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns each have something to play for heading into their Week 17 matchup, but this game means a whole lot more for the Browns than it does for the Steelers.
Playing without much of its wide receiver corps with COVID-19 protocols, Cleveland struggled to a 23-16 road loss to the New York Jets on Sunday to drop to 10-5. The Browns would guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs with a victory, and it could get dicey if Cleveland falls short in this game.
Pittsburgh rallied from 17 points down against the Indianapolis Colts and won 28-24 to clinch the AFC North title on Sunday. The Steelers are locked in for a No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the playoffs. With only the top seed getting a first-round bye these days, Pittsburgh could very well shut down some of its starters without a ton to play for.
Date: Sunday, Jan. 3
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Notable Statistical rankings (Football Outsiders)
Steelers: #7 Overall — #22 offense, #1 defense, #14 special teams
Browns: #21 Overall — #10 offense, #24 defense, #27 special teams
DraftKings Sportsbook odds
Steelers: +9.5, +360
Browns: -9.5, -435
Fantasy football start/sit advice
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, $6,400
JuJu Smith-Schuster had a big-time performance against the Colts, catching nine of 13 targets for 96 yards and a touchdown, but I’d be skeptical of putting him in the lineup especially at this price. We don’t yet know what the Steelers will do, whether they’ll hold their best players out the full game or maybe give them a few series or a half. Regardless, Smith-Schuster had only gotten double-digit targets once in his previous five games coming into this one, so targets should go down as well as the production.
Steelers D/ST $3,800
The Steelers are currently the third-highest priced defense/special teams unit on the DraftKings market, and going with them would be a pretty big risk. Who the Steelers will sit and won’t sit could be an issue, and the motivation factor is heavily in the Browns favor, and they’ll likely be getting their receivers back on the field. Stay away from Pittsburgh at this price.
Baker Mayfield, QB, $5,500
Baker Mayfield has a lot of moving parts going his way as we look forward to this game. For one, he has a chance to lead his team to a playoff berth, which would be huge for him and the franchise, and the Browns will more than likely get wide receivers Jarvis Landry, Donovan Peoples-Jones, KhaDarel Hodge, and Rashard Higgins back after being out in last week’s games with COVID-19 concerns. Combine these factors with the Steelers maybe resting some of their defensive players, and Mayfield could be worth a look at a cheap price.
Nick Chubb, RB, $7,600
It’s fair to assume we’ll see a bounce-back performance here from Nick Chubb, who was held to a season-low in yardage against the Jets. Cleveland was forced to throw a ton to get back in the game, and Chubb saw just 11 carries for 28 rushing yards, though he salvaged the day somewhat with a rushing touchdown. He should get more opportunities with the ball in his hands and should be more effective against Pittsburgh.