Cleveland Browns 2020 season preview: Turnaround hinges on Baker Mayfield

Will Baker Mayfield prove he's Cleveland's long-term QB? (1:35)

Jake Trotter looks at the Browns' key additions that could help Baker Mayfield prove that he is the long-term answer at quarterback. (1:35)

The Cleveland Browns are ranked No. 19 in ESPN's Football Power Index ahead of the 2020 NFL season. With no preseason games this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, Week 1 is the first time we'll see new acquisitions and rookies for every team. Week 1 will also give us the first NFL games since Super Bowl LIV in February.

Here's everything you need to know about the Browns heading into the season, from the big question to answer and the toughest stretch on their schedule to a bold prediction and potential breakout fantasy football stars.

Full schedule | Roster | Depth chart

The big question: How quickly can the offense jell around Kevin Stefanski's system?

Not only do the Browns have two new tackles (Jack Conklin, Jedrick Wills Jr.) and a new tight end (Austin Hooper) to integrate, quarterback Baker Mayfield will be playing for a fourth head coach in just three years in the league. Despite all those excuses, with a challenging back-half of the schedule looming, the Browns will need to hit the ground running. -- Jake Trotter

How the pandemic has most affected the Browns

Cleveland's interior depth up front was wiped out by the pandemic, with defensive tackle Andrew Billings and three backup guards opting out. Billings, signed to a one-year deal this offseason, was supposed to be the answer to a defensive tackle rotation that was exposed as too thin down the stretch last season. On the other side of the ball, Drew Forbes, Colby Gossett and Malcolm Pridgeon all opting out left the Browns scrambling for training camp bodies and potential backups behind starting guards Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller. -- Trotter

Football Power Index projections for the Browns

Overall ranking: 19
Offensive ranking: 16
Defensive ranking: 17
Special teams ranking: 17

Total wins: 8.2
AFC North title chances: 11.9%
Chances to make playoffs: 45.9%
Super Bowl chances: 1.1%
2021 draft pick: No. 16

Inside the Browns' schedule

FPI's strength of schedule rank: 29

Toughest stretch: The first three weeks in October -- Oct. 4 at Dallas, Oct. 11 vs. Indianapolis and Oct. 18 at Pittsburgh, where the Browns haven't won in 17 years -- could go a long way in determining whether Cleveland finally snaps the NFL's longest playoff drought. The Browns went winless in October last year. A repeat performance would be catastrophic to their playoff hopes.

Over or under 8.2 wins? Over. The Browns seemingly boast too much talent, especially offensively, to finish without a winning record. Then again, that seemed to be the case last year -- and with Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger healthy again, the AFC North figures only to be tougher. That said, the Browns have too much firepower offensively. And behind a rebound campaign via QB Baker Mayfield, they will finally snap the playoff drought by going 9-7. -- Trotter

Bold prediction for 2020: Nick Chubb will win the rushing title

Not only that, Chubb will best Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey and 2019 rushing champ Derrick Henry by more than 100 yards on the way to his first All-Pro season.-- Trotter

Breakout fantasy star: Baker Mayfield, QB

It's a big year for Mayfield. The 2018 first overall pick flashed as a rookie, but took a big step back during a 2019 campaign in which he totaled 25 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Mayfield's saving grace may be the arrival of coach Kevin Stefanski, who helped Kirk Cousins to fantasy finishes of 12th and 15th during the two seasons both were in Minnesota. The supporting cast is strong in Cleveland, so if Stefanski can "unlock" Mayfield, a return to the QB1 discussion is certainly on the table. -- Mike Clay

ADP for the top players:

The view from Vegas

Super Bowl odds: 100-1 (opened 100-1)
Over/under: 5.5
Playoff odds: Yes +650, No -1000

A popular preseason pick to make noise in the division, Cleveland disappointed. Baker Mayfield and Co. struggled to a 6-10 record (5-10-1 ATS). A year after the Browns were 14-1 to win the Super Bowl, oddsmakers like the chance at a semirebound with an over/under on wins set at 8.5. -- ESPN Chalk staff

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill as of Sept. 1.

Where the Browns landed in NFL Rank

Speed reads before Week 1