Should You Start Pat Freiermuth Vs. The Browns?

The deeper we get into the season, the more hesitant I am about starting players on Thursday night. This week, we have the Pittsburgh Steelers traveling to Cleveland to take on the Browns. That means early lineup decisions on players on those two teams. What is Pat Freiermuth’s fantasy football value this week, and should you start him against the Browns on Thursday night?

Pat Freiermuth’s fantasy outlook against the Browns

I was very worried about Pat Freiermuth taking the next step forward this season with Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett at quarterback. With Diontae Johnson such an uber-talented dominant target hog, would there be enough for the talented sophomore tight end? After two weeks, it looks like the answer is yes.

Freiermuth has been remarkably consistent to start the season, scoring 12.2 and 12.5 PPR fantasy points in his first two games. He’s currently the sixth-highest scoring player at a position where fantasy football managers are struggling to find reliable starters outside of the top guys.

I seldom advise starting fringe players on Thursday night. Fortunately, Freiermuth is not a fringe player.

Pat Freiermuth’s target share has been elite

Last season, Freiermuth saw a 13% target share. If that ticked up even a little bit, he was a lock to finish as a TE1 in 2022. Well, it’s more than ticked up — it’s skyrocketed. Freiermuth currently has a 24% target share, which is the third-highest at the position.

In Week 2, Freiermuth saw seven targets on 30 routes run. This season, he’s averaging an impressive 1.73 yards per route run.

It’s only a two-week sample size, but teams facing the Browns have thrown to the tight end position roughly 3% more frequently than league average. For Trubisky, Freiermuth has been his second-most trusted receiver behind Johnson. That’s incredibly valuable in fantasy football, and the results speak for themselves.

The game between the Steelers and Browns projects to be low scoring

If there is a concern surrounding starting Freiermuth, it’s the potential for a lack of offense. I’m always hesitant about starting players on Thursday night because the short week can negatively impact player performance.

This week’s game has, by far, the lowest total of the week at just 38 points. Sportsbooks are projecting a sluggish, defensive affair. I tend to agree.

The Steelers are averaging just 18.5 points per game and are allowing the exact same to opponents. Surprisingly, the Browns have been pretty effective offensively, averaging 28 points per game. They’ve also allowed 27.5 points per game to opponents. Neither of their first two games came against prolific offenses (the Panthers and Jets).

It’s possible this game is a bit higher scoring than expected. That would bode well for Freiermuth’s chances of producing TE1 numbers once again.

Should fantasy managers start Pat Freiermuth?

Pickens currently sits at TE 6 in our Week 3 tight end rankings. He’s ranked exactly where he is in tight end scoring.

I completely agree with the ranking. The only scenario in which I’m benching Freiermuth is if I have one of the clear top five tight ends (Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Kyle Pitts, Darren Waller, George Kittle). Unless my starter is one of those guys, Freiermuth is going in my lineup.

Few things in fantasy are more frustrating than staring at a low single-digit score in your lineup for three days. You must put those fears aside (if you have them) and cut the “Muth” loose on Thursday night.

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here.

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