TE David Njoku | Cleveland Browns | 2nd Year
2017 Stats: 32 rec., 386 yards, 4 TD
David Njoku started his 2017 rookie season in solid fashion, with three touchdowns in his first five games. But he faded after that though, with just one touchdown over the final 11 as he wound up playing less than half of Cleveland’s offensive snaps for the season.
But the door is wide open for Njoku to take a bigger role. Browns head coach Hue Jackson head coach Hue Jackson said he expects a “big jump” and a report out of OTAs in May suggested Njoku will be a “full-time starter” this year.
From Week 6-13 last year (seven games), Njoku saw a jump to nearly five targets game. Not coincidentally the two games he had four catches in came during that stretch, along with three of his four best yardage outputs.
The Browns have upgraded at quarterback this year, one way or another. Tyrod Taylor is expected to be the Week 1 starter, and rookie Baker Mayfield could step in at some point. No matter who’s under center, it should be good news for Njoku.
Over Taylor’s three seasons as Buffalo’s starting quarterback, Bills’ tight end Charles Clay averaged 52 receptions (79 targets) and 546 yards per season with per 16-game averages of 61 catches (93 targets) and 639 yards. Last season at Oklahoma, with Mayfield as his quarterback of course, tight end Mark Andrews had 62 catches for 958 yards and eight touchdowns. Over three seasons in Norman, Mayfield and Andrews connected on 22 touchdowns.
The Browns added the target hog that has been Jarvis Landry to their wide receiver mix this offseason, and Josh Gordon will be available for a full season barring another off-field issue. So Njoku looks likely to be third in passing game pecking order.
The one area Njoku should be prominently featured in is in the red zone. At 6-foot-4 with speed and athleticism, new offensive coordinator Todd Haley should have designs on practically doubling Njoku’s nine red zone targets from last year.
Njoku is right in TE2 territory based on his current ADP in 12-team standard (TE15, pick 13.10-Fantasy Football Calculator) and PPR leagues (TE13, pick 12.21). But for those that like to wait to draft a tight end, the second-year man is a nice upside bet to ultimately finish as a TE1.