Thursday night games rarely provide this kind of excitement and intrigue, but the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns were able to pull it off. The Browns made a comeback and won 37-24 in a game where both teams’ starting quarterbacks were injured.
In the first quarter, Brian Hoyer ran for 11 yards and when sliding, his knee was caught underneath his body and twisted in a way it shouldn’t. Later in the game, E.J. Manuel broke free for a run and he injured his knee while running out of bounds. This led to Brandon Weeden and Jeff Tuel battling it out, which made it an exciting game.
Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson injured his back. He came back in for a third-down play, but went to the locker room afterward. Robert Woods and Scott Chandler were the top receivers in the Bills’ passing game, catching nine combined passes. If Johnson is out for multiple weeks, both Woods and Chandler become must-adds for fantasy teams.
Despite both running backs shaken up last Sunday, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller scored double-digit fantasy points. Spiller broke out a 54-yard run to score while Jackson scored twice from the one-yard line. There is no doubt that Jackson is the goal-line back. He was also the go-to guy in this game with 17 carries to Spiller’s eight. Next week, the Bills play the Cincinnati Bengals. With 10 days of rest, both backs should be must-starts.
On the opposite side of the ball were the 2-2 Browns. Hoyer only attempted four passes before leaving the game. Weeden, who was injured the last two weeks, surprised a lot of people by playing well. He went 13-of-24 for 197 yards and a touchdown. Hoyer elevated the value of Josh Gordon, Greg Little and Jordan Cameron.
Now that Weeden is back, their value suffers a little bit, but Gordon and Cameron are still must-starts, especially during the bye weeks. Speaking of Gordon, he’s becoming one of the league’s top receivers. He finished the game with four receptions, 86 yards and a score. Cameron only had 36 yards, but is still a top-tier tight end.
After a rough couple of weeks with the Browns, Willis McGahee showed why he was signed. He can power through defenders as he rushed the ball three straight times on first-and-goal, finally punching it in on the third attempt. However, his yards per carry was atrocious with 72 yards on 26 carries (2.8 YPC). The good news is that Bobby Rainey was the only other back to run the ball. This is McGahee’s job to lose.
The Browns’ defense is another surprising piece of this Cleveland team. After scoring just 15 fantasy points in the last two games combined, the Browns have three straight double-digit games. Against the Bills, they scored two touchdowns (punt and interception return) and accumulated four sacks. They play the Detroit Lions next week and could be a sleeper play.
Both teams have a lot of fantasy-relevant players and this game showed that, anything could change in one play. Spiller’s and Jackson’s values skyrocket with Manuel out. Woods is now worth something in 10-team leagues. McGahee is the No. 1 guy in Cleveland, while the Browns receiving corps drop some in rankings.