Fri Aug 14 7:04pm ET
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield throws a pass during practice at the NFL football team's training facility Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) talks with offensive tackle Jack Conklin (78) and guard Joel Bitonio (75) during practice at the NFL football team's training facility Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry catches a pass during practice at the NFL football team's training facility Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, left, talks with head coach Kevin Stefanski during practice at the NFL football team's training facility Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski watches a drill during practice at the NFL football team's training facility Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) talks with a coach during practice at the NFL football team's training facility Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
BEREA, Ohio (AP) Baker Mayfield knew he needed to drop some weight, and maybe a little of the attitude.
If there was anything the Browns' self-assured quarterback learned during a chaotic, losing 2019 season in Cleveland it was that he had to change.
''I would say I lost myself not having that success, not finding out what was working,'' he said. ''I tried different ways of trying to have that success, and I didn't find it. I lost myself in that, and I wasn't able to be who I am for these guys on the team.''
Mayfield opened up about those struggles - and more - that he faced in his second NFL season on Friday before the Browns held their first training camp practice under first-year coach Kevin Stefanski.
For Mayfield, this past offseason provided the chance for a restart, and the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner and 2018 No. 1 overall draft pick who has spent his football life proving people wrong, dedicated himself to becoming a better player and leader.
He arrived at camp in great shape after working with a dietitian and changing his eating habits - ''my Mexican food fix'' - and re-shaping his body through weight training and strength conditioning. General manager Andrew Berry said Mayfield added four pounds of lean mass while also cutting fat.
Mayfield said he got out of shape last season partly because injuries prevented him from working out the way he would have liked. He needed to be more mobile, and just couldn't move like he once did.
''I was not able to work out as much being beat up,'' said Mayfield, who dealt with an injured hand and badly bruised ribs last season. ''I was heavier than I was ever playing before at a playing weight. I needed to (make physical changes) to be able to have the scrambling ability and to be able to move in the pocket.''
''That is my job to be in prime physical shape to show up and do my job on Sundays. That was definitely a key factor in that and being back. Look good, feel good, play good.''
He's also more emotionally fit.
The losing has taken its toll on Mayfield, whose massive success at Oklahoma was followed by 18 losses over two seasons in Cleveland. In addition, he's playing for his fourth coach and third offensive coordinator in three years.
So while doing reps with dumbbells, Mayfield worked on his mind.
''In a much better state mentally,'' he said when asked about the difference from a year ago. ''Obviously, physically, I put in the work. Just ready to roll, attack and get back to where I need to be to be the leader for this team and for this franchise.''
Mayfield is noticeably trimmer, and while there's not yet much evidence to show that he's toned down the swagger he exudes on the field, his teammates have noticed a change in the 25-year-old.
''His attitude towards this season is at a heightened level,'' Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry said. ''It is fun to see him out here. It is fun to see him doing the things he loves with a smile on his face and making plays already.''
Mayfield and Landry connected on a long pass during Friday's workouts, which other than seeing and hearing Stefanski and his assistants bark out instructions while wearing masks, looked much like a Browns training camp practice in any other summer.
This one, of course, is very different due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But Mayfield, whose statistics plummeted after a record-setting rookie season, said he and his teammates are looking forward to moving on from a 6-10 season that crashed with Kitchens being fired and another front office purge.
The Browns added free agent Pro Bowl help on offense in right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Austin Hooper, Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. are healthy after offseason surgeries and Mayfield has already made a favorable connection with Stefanski, who visited him in Texas in February.
Last season, expectations turned to excuses and Mayfield acknowledged he battled periods of self-doubt.
''Absolutely,'' he said. ''I think that is one of those things that I talked about with our team is you have to find that belief and you have to find that confidence within yourself,'' he said. ''That is what I have based my whole story on and my whole career on is confidence in myself and taking those chances.
''There were times, and these guys know that everybody has their moments. You can't just hold onto yourself. You have to have people to lean on, and we have those guys here.''
Five Sleepers: Week 3
Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker is clearly still not 100 percent healthy, but did play during the Thursday night win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He caught all five of his targets for 69 yards in Week 3. He'll get 10 days to heal up before his matchup with the Seattle Seahawks next week. Seattle has been horrendous at stopping the pass attack this season. Parker should be a reliable WR2 for that one, assuming he's healthy.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews will look to get back on track in Week 3 against the Chiefs. After a strong start to the 2020 campaign, the 25-year-old caught only one pass against the Houston Texans on Sunday. While that performance certainly left a bad taste in the mouths of fantasy managers, Andrews should remain starting in all formats, especially since his ceiling is higher than most at his position.
Miami Dolphins running back Jordan Howard has been having trouble finding any room to run this season. He rushed three times for one yard and one touchdown in the Thursday night win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Howard has 16 carries for 12 yards on the season, but has three touchdowns as well. Myles Gaskin has become the clear lead back in Miami, so there is little reason to keep Howard rostered in 12-team leagues. He does have a three game touchdown streak, but that won't be enough value to warrant ownership in most leagues.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown will face his most formidable task of the season against the Chiefs in Week 3. Hollywood has compiled at least five catches in each of his first two games to go along with 143 yards. While Brown hasn't found the end zone yet during the 2020 campaign, he is always in line for a productive outing, especially with so many weapons on the offensive side of the ball opening things up for him. Fantasy managers should keep him starting for the Monday night showdown with Kansas City.
Miami Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin saw a heavy workload during the Thursday night victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Gaskin rushed 22 times for 66 yards and caught five passes for 29 yards through the air. He has become the clear lead back in Miami, but Jordan Howard and Matt Breida will still get a few touches each game. Gaskin is quickly picking up steam in PPR formats. He'll get another favorable matchup against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 4.
Miami Dolphins running back Matt Breida has been having issues finding any momentum through the first three weeks of the 2020 NFL season. He rushed three times for four yards during the Thursday night victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Breida has been horrendous this season and is a cut-candidate in most formats. Myles Gaskin has become the clear lead back in Miami. Breida will still get a few carries each week, but it won't be enough to have value in most formats.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick put together another solid performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3. He completed 18 of 20 passing attempts for 160 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed seven times for 38 yards on the ground with a rushing touchdown as well. The Jaguars had no answers for Fitzpatrick through the first half, but were able to slow him down after halftime. He'll get another solid matchup against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 4. Seattle is struggling to slow down the passing game, so Fitzpatrick could be a possible streaming option again.
The New Orleans Saints Defense faces a tough test against the Packers, the league's highest-scoring team heading into Week 3. New Orleans has racked up some good stats so far, including six sacks, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a defensive touchdown. Unfortunately, Green Bay hasn't been giving to defenses this year, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been sacked just once and has yet to throw an interception. When you consider that this game could become high-scoring, it makes the New Orleans defense less appealing for fantasy purposes. There are better starting options out there.
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook will square off with one of his former teams, the Packers, in Week 3. Cook ranks as the TE16 through two weeks of play and he was a bit disappointing in the first Saints game without Michael Thomas (ankle). Still, he's arguably the best pass-catcher this offense has besides Alvin Kamara, which should make fantasy managers feel better about starting him. Green Bay has been good against tight ends this year, though they haven't faced one who can stretch the field like Cook can. Plug him into lineups as a low-end TE1.
New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz gets a tough matchup against the Packers in Week 3. Lutz has made all three field-goals and all seven extra-points in two contests. New Orleans will have to put up more points in this one, considering that Green Bay currently leads the NFL in points per game. Fantasy managers should keep rolling with Lutz, as this contest could become high-scoring, lending to more opportunities for the veteran kicker. A top-12 finish at the position is certainly possible.
Washington Football Team defense will be in play again in Week 3 in a matchup with the Cleveland Browns. Washington has a high-floor as a defense thanks to a ferocious defensive line that features Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, and second-overall pick Chase Young. Washington put up eight sacks in Week 1 and should be able to put pressure on Baker Mayfield this week. Their secondary is certainly capable of getting picked apart so their upside is limited, but they are a fine starting option in this matchup.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders faces off with the Packers in Week 3. Sanders saw the second-highest number of snaps in Week 2 against the Raiders, but was third in wide receiver targets behind Tre'Quan Smith and Deonte Harris. This makes the veteran wideout hard to trust against Green Bay, despite the fact that they rank 22nd in fantasy points allowed to opposing wideouts. While both Sanders and Smith are obviously risky, Sanders is even more volatile right now considering he saw so few targets in Week 2. Sanders is in the WR4 range for Week 3.
Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson led the team in carries in Week 2 and should continue his ascent up the fantasy football ranks in a good matchup in Cleveland. Gibson handled 13 carries in Week 2 and started over veteran Peyton Barber and pass-catching specialist J.D. McKissic. Gibson only has three receptions thus far in 2020 but should get more involved in the passing game as he gets more comfortable with the NFL game. Start the rookie as a high-upside RB2.
Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin has a tough matchup versus former Ohio State teammate Denzel Ward, but is still a WR1 for a matchup in Cleveland. McLaurin typically sees the opposing team's top corner, but the sophomore receiver has beaten good cornerbacks before as he went for 125 yards and a touchdown versus Patrick Peterson in Week 1. Washington has struggled on offense but they tend to force-feed McLaurin targets making him solid starter for fantasy managers.
Washington Football Team tight end Logan Thomas made four catches in each game so far this season and is a streamable tight end in a good matchup with Cleveland. Thomas hasn't eclipsed 40 yards in a game yet this season so he is a touchdown-dependent option in fantasy, but he has been getting a good amount of targets in an offense that lacks playmakers. Cleveland has given up a touchdown to tight ends in two-straight weeks so Thomas has a chance to pay off as a streamer in Week 3.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith could be a sneaky play in Week 3 against the Packers. In the first game without Michael Thomas (ankle), Smith played 53 snaps, compared to Emmanuel Sanders' 47, and caught five passes for 86 yards. He out-targeted Sanders seven to three. You can't feel entirely great about playing Smith, especially against a solid Packers' pass defense. Still, he has had a knack for finding the end zone in his career and saw the most targets of any pass-catcher not named Alvin Kamara. Smith is a sneaky play in all formats.
Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins has played efficiently in 2020, but is not a quarterback to target in fantasy. Haskins is quickly earning the dreaded "game manager" tag as he has thrown for under 225 yards and exactly one touchdown, but no interceptions, through the team's first two games. The Browns are a solid matchup and Haskins could play well again, but fantasy managers should aim higher with their QB. In 2QB leagues Haskins can be considered a low-end starter, but he should be left on waivers in most leagues.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram has struggled thus far in 2020 and things won't get easier in Week 3 versus San Francisco. The 49ers won't be at full strength on defense after several injuries in Week 2, but they have still allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends through two weeks. Engram has just eight catches for 74 scoreless yards this season as New York has struggled on the offensive side of the ball. Engram isn't the slam-dunk fantasy starter he was after the draft but remains a low-end TE1 for this matchup at a weak tight end position for fantasy.
New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton had a letdown game in Week 2 with just 33 yards after he exploded for 100-plus yards and a touchdown in Week 1. Slayton should be in a position to see more targets this week as Sterling Shepard (toe) was placed on Injured Reserve. New York has struggled to move the ball on offense but will catch a break this week facing a 49ers Defense decimated by injuries. Slayton should be in line for seven-plus targets giving him appeal as a WR3 in fantasy.
New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray gets a favorable matchup against the Packers in Week 3. Green Bay has surrendered the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs and has allowed a back to score in each of their two games so far. Murray saw far less touches in Week 2, though it can't be forgotten that he carried the ball 15 times in Week 1, against a much tougher Buccaneers' run defense. With Michael Thomas (ankle) ruled out, it's possible New Orleans opts for a run-heavy approach. If the veteran halfback sees at least 10 touches, he could do enough to return flex value in Week 3. The risk is the week-to-week uncertainty with his role and the fact that Kamara could gobble up all the backfield touches once again.