Fantasy Reaction: David Njoku Signs 4-Year Extension with the Cleveland Browns (Fantasy Football)
Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku has signed a four-year extension worth $56.75 million with $28 million in guaranteed money. This new contract makes Njoku the fourth highest paid TE in the league on a per year average, behind only George Kittle ($15M), Travis Kelce ($14.3M), and Dallas Goedert ($14.25M). Earlier this off-season, the Cleveland Browns signed Deshaun Watson to massive deal, keeping him in Cleveland for the next five seasons. Off the field concerns aside, this signing for Njoku ties him to one of the NFL’s higher ceiling QBs, which is certainly good news for David Njoku‘s fantasy outlook, which prior to this signing, was hanging in the balance with uncertainty.
Njoku enters year six in the NFL, and as of this writing, is still just 25 years old. The former 1st Round Draft pick turns 26 years in July. While it’s been a lackluster start to his career, there’s some underlying metrics that suggest there’s an untapped fantasy ceiling with Njoku. While Njoku only finished as the TE22 in fantasy points last season, he set career highs in several efficiency metrics while splitting time with former Browns TE Austin Hooper, who is now off the roster. In 2021, Njoku set career highs in all of the following, with his NFL rank at the position in parentheses:
- EPA per pass attempt (2nd)
- Yards after the catch per reception (2nd)
- Yards per reception (4th)
- Yards per route run (11th)
- Catch rate (16th)
This data suggests the volume wasn’t there for Njoku in Cleveland’s run heavy scheme as he split time with Hooper, but the efficiency was among the best at the position. His 53 targets last season ranked 25th among all TEs a year ago. If we see more volume for Njoku in 2022 with an upgrade in QB play from Baker Mayfield to Deshaun Watson, Njoku may finally produce for our fantasy rosters in 2022. Of course, his 2022 outlook largely depends on the Deshaun Watson legal situation and possible looming suspension, but based on the underlying metrics and now financial security, Njoku’s fantasy outlook is much improved relative to the past two or three seasons. In the Ultimate Draft Kit, Njoku has an average stat projection of 570 yards and 4.7 TD for the 2022 season.
In dynasty formats, Njoku is still worth a look in a potential trade or dynasty start up draft. With the tight end position, we know breakouts typically don’t happen in the the first few seasons, and Njoku has the athletic profile we’re looking for when trying to find upside at a position where fantasy scoring is at a premium. In our current dynasty start up rankings, Andy, Mike and Jason have Njoku ranked 19th among TEs.