TNF Fantasy Preview: Cincinnati Bengals vs Cleveland Brownsby Mike Fanelli September 17, 2020 1 comment
Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season is in the books, and we had plenty of exciting games. More importantly, there were plenty of fantasy stars. Tonight we get a matchup between two Ohio teams and two former number one overall picks. Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals head to Cleveland take on Baker Mayfield and the Browns.
Last week we saw the Houston Texans take on the Kansas City Chiefs. The game turned out to be full of fantasy production. Most of the recommendations from last week were correct. Both David Johnson and Clyde Edwards-Helaire finished the week as RB1s in PPR, while Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Will Fuller all scored over 15 fantasy points. However, the one big error was suggesting to avoid Sammy Watkins. Like last season, Watkins had a big Week 1, scoring 21.5 fantasy points against the Texans. Now the question is, will he keep it up all season long? With that said, here is my Week 2 Thursday Night Fantasy Preview.
Quarterback – Joe Burrow
In his NFL debut, the rookie had some good moments and a few really ugly ones. He only had 193 passing yards, didn’t throw a touchdown, and had an ugly interception as he tried to force the ball to Joe Mixon late in the game. However, Burrow showed off his rushing ability, carrying the ball eight times for 46 yards and a touchdown. In fact, he scored more fantasy points in the game with his legs than his arm. However, he faced a tough Los Angeles Chargers defense last week and now gets to bounce back against a banged Browns’ unit.
Last week, Lamar Jackson tore the Browns apart, throwing 275 yards and three touchdowns. Obviously, Burrow isn’t going to duplicate what the reigning MVP did, but the Browns will be without several starters on defense again this week. With facing a banged up defense, combined with the first game nerves out of the way, Burrow is an interesting option this week. He likely doesn’t finish as a top 12 quarterback but should be started in all super flex leagues. However, for those of you playing in DFS games tonight, Burrow is someone to avoid at his price tag.
Running Back – Joe Mixon
The Chargers did everything in their power to stop Mixon last week. Furthermore, the Bengals’ offensive line looked awful. Hopefully, it’s just early season rust, and they play better starting tonight against the Browns. Last week, Mixon had 20 touches for 71 yards and 6.1 fantasy points. His fumble cost fantasy owners two points. However, had he gotten in the end zone (something the Bengals did just once last week), Mixon would have finished with a respectable 12.1 fantasy points. His volume is there, but the only concern is can the Bengals help him out enough to average four yards per carry.
Meanwhile, the Browns didn’t do a good job slowing down the Baltimore Ravens’ running backs last week. While Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins only combined for 68 rushing yards, Dobbins had two touchdowns, and Jackson ran for 45 yards himself. Expect the Bengals to focus on getting Mixon the ball early and often. Even if he struggles to get over four yards per carry again this week, his role and matchup keep Mixon in the low-end RB1 ballpark.
The Bengals’ wide receiver trio is an interesting one. Last week against the Chargers, Ross led the team in snap percent played with 84 percent. Boyd was slightly behind at 81 percent while Green played just 66 percent of the snaps. No other Bengal wide receiver played more than 22 percent of the snaps. However, chalk it up to the Bengals easing Green back in after not playing in almost two years. This week Green and Boyd should be the two highest snap receivers while Ross should hold onto the number three role ahead of Tee Higgins and Auden Tate.
Denzel Ward was the only healthy starting cornerback the Browns had last week, and it will be the same this week. Both Greedy Williams and Kevin Johnson are ruled out for tonight’s game. Meanwhile, Green was targeted almost twice as much as Boyd last week, but with Ward likely following him around, Green may not be targeted as often this week. Meanwhile, Boyd should have a favorable matchup in the slot and reportedly developed a strong chemistry with Burrow in camp. Both receivers are mid to low end WR2s this week. Green is the better option if you need to chase points while Boyd offers the safer floor. Ross is an interesting option in DFS (priced at $5,200 on DraftKings), but shouldn’t be in any season long lineups this week.
Tight End – C.J. Uzomah
Last week, Uzomah played 72 percent of the snaps compared to 35 percent for Drew Sample and had five targets compared to Sample’s one. Uzomah’s 8.5 fantasy points made him the TE18 last week, but he shouldn’t be on any standard size redraft rosters as the Bengals offense flows through Mixon, Green, and Boyd. Uzomah’s five targets last week had more to do with the Chargers not having Derwin James than his role in the offense. Furthermore, he isn’t a good target for DFS tonight. Priced at $5,000 on DraftKings, Uzomah is way overpriced. You are better of spending $200 more on Ross or save a few bucks and selecting a kicker.
Despite going against a struggling Chargers’ offense, the Bengals D/ST only scored two fantasy points last week. They only had two sacks and didn’t force any turnovers. Meanwhile, the Ravens D/ST scored 12 fantasy points, thanks to two sacks and three turnovers. While the Bengals will likely get a turnover or two off the Browns tonight, they shouldn’t be in your roster, let along your starting lineup in redraft leagues.
Quarterback – Baker Mayfield
Oh, have the mighty fallen. It seems just like yesterday, Mayfield was viewed as the next great quarterback in the NFL and the saver of the Browns. Instead, he seriously regressed last season and was awful against the Ravens on Sunday. Mayfield completed just 53.8 percent of his passes for under 200 yards and only one touchdown. While Mayfield won’t be facing the Ravens’ elite defense again tonight, how can fantasy owners trust him after his struggles over his last 17 games? Until Mayfield proves he has turned a corner, he belongs on the waiver wire in one quarterback redraft leagues. Even in super flex leagues, it’s hard to trust him after his 9.9 fantasy point outing last week.
It may be only one week, so it’s too soon to panic, but Chubb and Hunt’s carry split from last week isn’t a good sign for Chubb owners. Last week Chubb had 10 carries and only one target while Hunt had 13 carries and six targets. Hunt averaged 5.5 yards per carry while Chubb averaged six per carry. While both backs were productive with their carries, the Browns fell behind early to the Ravens and had to abandon on the running game.
Meanwhile, the Bengals gave up 22.1 fantasy points to the Chargers’ running backs last week, including a rushing touchdown to Joshua Kelley. Furthermore, both Geno Atkins and Mike Daniels will miss tonight’s game because of injury. More than likely, the game will be close throughout, and the Browns can stick with their running game. If they can, the matchup is favorable, and both Chubb and Hunt could produce mid to high-end RB2 numbers. If for, some reason, you have both on your team and can only play one, Hunt is the safer option because of his role in the passing game.
Last week Beckham really struggled. Despite seeing 10 targets, OBJ caught just three balls for 22 yards and 5.2 fantasy points. Part of that was the Ravens’ strong cornerback group, but the bigger part is Mayfield. OBJ and Mayfield have struggled to develop chemistry. Tonight he will see plenty of William Jackson, and with his history of poor production with Mayfield, Beckham is a risky WR3 this week. Until we see Beckham returning to his old New York Giant form, fantasy owners have to be concerned with starting OBJ.
Landry is nursing a hip injury that kept him out of practice Tuesday and limited him on Wednesday. At the time of writing, he was listed as questionable for tonight’s game. If he plays, Landry offers low-end WR3 appeal this week. However, he doesn’t have a lot of upside given his quarterback and the matchup. Landry had 11.1 fantasy points against the Ravens after catching five of his six targets. However, with this game expected to be low scoring and close, the Browns should be able to stick with their running game and, therefore, limit Landry’s upside. Sitting both OBJ and Landry this week is an option fantasy owners should seriously consider.
Tight End – Austin Hooper
First, the bad news: after getting, at the time, the richest contract for a tight end in NFL history, Hooper caught both of his two targets for 15 yards and scored 3.5 fantasy points last week. He finished the week as the TE33. Needless to say, that’s not what you expected from him when you drafted him. Now the good news for Hooper. After scoring the only touchdown in the game for the Browns, David Njoku was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. Aside from the few Harrison Bryant will steal, this now opens up most of the tight end targets for Hooper.
Meanwhile, the Bengals gave up 12.3 fantasy points last week to Hunter Henry. He caught five of his eight targets for 73. His eight targets were tied for the second-most on the team. Furthermore, the Bengals will be without safety Shawn Williams tonight. This should open the door for Hooper to take advantage of a banged up Bengals’ defense. Season long owners should view Hooper as a low-end TE1 this week but with limited upside given Mayfield’s recent play. However, in DFS, Hooper is a solid option. At just $6,800 on DraftKings, Hooper should return positive value tonight, especially if he finds the end zone.
Of the two defenses in tonight’s game, the Browns are the better option to play. First off, Myles Garrett is arguably the best pass rusher in the NFL. However, he was held to just one tackle and zero sacks last week. The good news is the Bengals’ offensive line is nowhere near as good as the Ravens’. Second, the Chargers D/ST scored 12 fantasy points last week against the Bengals as they forced two turnovers and had three sacks. With all the injuries in the secondary, staying away from the Browns D/ST this week is the smart thing to do. However, if you feel like taking a risk, the Browns D/ST has the upside to score double digits tonight given the Bengals’ offensive line and rookie quarterback.
Burrow: Mid QB2
Mixon: Low end RB1
Green: Mid WR2 with upside
Boyd: Mid WR2 with a safe floor
Ross: DFS option only
Bengals D/ST: Avoid
Chubb: Mid RB2 with upside
Hunt: Mid RB2 with upside
Beckham: Risky WR3 and would avoid
Landry: Risky WR3 and would avoid
Hooper: Low end TE1
Browns D/ST: Avoid
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