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Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
- Spread: Bengal -3.5
- the total: 46 points
- Implied Crows Points: 21.25
- Bengals implied points: 24.75
Lamar Jackson: Lamar Jackson’s study is interesting. I’m in his camp, but as an information sharer, I find it my duty to present you with both sides of the argument.
The good: In his first week under Todd Monken, Jackson completed 77.3% of his passes despite being without Mark Andrews. Yes, it was a comfortable landing spot in Houston, but the confidence of an athlete like Jackson cannot be overstated.
Speaking of confidence, rookie Zay Flowers’ connection (nine completions on 10 targets for 78 yards) was far ahead of even the most optimistic projections.
Jackson checks off the boxes we need to see him check in in Week 1 while also leading the team in rushing. JK Dobbins’ torn Achilles gives Monken every reason to increase his dropback rate, thus opening Jackson up to more schoolyard plays that rack up fantasy points.
The Bad: Desmond Ryder and Bryce Young scored more fantasy points than Jackson last week. He averaged less than 10 yards per completion and couldn’t find the end zone, two traits that seriously limit fantasy potential.
Jackson’s last game against the Bengals was in Week 5 of last season. His 44 chances yielded just 14.8 fantasy points. This means 40.3% fewer points per chance than last season’s average.
Jackson is my QB6 this week. I agree with that and would be willing to talk about a trade if the manager with him was less interested.
Joe Burrow: Joe Cole was anything but that in Week 1 (82 yards). He and the Bengals put on their most disappointing offensive showing this week. It was ugly. Very ugly. But was it so unexpected?
Brian Blewis on the PFN Betting Podcast highlighted Burrow’s slow start to last season after limited work in the preseason — three passing TDs on 89 attempts through two weeks with four interceptions and just six yards per pass attempt — turned the reason Cincy faded into the open this season. It was spot on.
Boro wasn’t feeling well last week, and this match won’t do him any good. In his past three games against the Ravens, Burrow has caught just three TD passes (109 attempts), although he has rushed for a score in two of those games.
His struggles may carry over into this game and be resolved over time, but if I had Burrow on my fantasy roster, I would put him there this week (my QB9). I like him more than I like other passers in the pocket, and QBs in this range who rely on their legs lack the all-around offensive upside to match Burrow.
JK Dobbins: Dobbins’ season ended after tearing his Achilles tendon in Week 1. When this season ends, Dobbins will have appeared in 24 of 66 (36.4%) possible regular season games in his four NFL seasons.
Gus Edwards: I projected Edwards to be the backfield leader in Baltimore’s offense moving forward, which put him on my Flex radar. His lack of versatility and competition via Judge Hill caps his ceiling, but Edwards has been effective when he’s shown up — 87.7 rushing yards with 0.6 TDs per game over his career when he’s gotten more than 15 touches — and that elevates his floor to a point where I’m comfortable.
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For reference, I would prefer Edwards to a running back in Washington or with the Rams.
Justice Hale: Hill scored twice last week, both from two yards out, and maybe that’s his role. He has never had more than 10 carries in an NFL game, a trend that makes Edwards my preferred option in this new-look backfield.
Hill was a popular addition to the waiver wire this week, which is as it should be. I just don’t put him in the starting lineup without making sure I can count on 12-15 touches.
Joe Mixon: The veteran running back was the only Bengal to give fantasy managers some use (73 total yards with three catches) in the Week 1 loss.
Mixon continues to be a high-caliber RB you can count on, but for whatever reason, his TD stock is rising at home. All seven of his goals last season came at home, after a season of nine of his 13 goals. This trend is likely a result of Cincinnati’s offense as a whole being more comfortable in those positions.
Mixon’s role keeps him as a low-profile RB1 player in PFN’s Week 2 consensus rankings, though his cap keeps him off my DFS radar. In his three games against Baltimore last season, Mixon ran 36 times for 144 yards and did not have a single carry gain of more than 12 yards.
With four prime-time games this week, the DFS slate is thinner than usual, but I’d still prefer Aaron Jones or Jahmir Gibbs in Mixon’s overall price range.
G flowers: Have your own debut, baby! Flowers had a target share of 47.6% and had more catches (nine) than the rest of his teammates combined (eight).
Numbers are one thing, but agility and comfort are another. I expect Jackson to gain comfort in Monken’s offense over time, which theoretically puts Flowers in a position to return a profit on his draft price this summer. Flowers is ranked as a top-30 receiver and I’m comfortable starting him.
Rashad Batman: Bateman made all three of his targets last week (35 yards), but if we’re talking less than 15 yards per catch, he’ll struggle to crack fantasy lineups. Batman is a major threat, and he will have his moments as this crime unfolds. I feel good about that much. Having said that, its targeted profit making capabilities are a question mark, and without trading volume, its floor is too low to play with now.
Odell Beckham Jr: See Bateman, Rushod. The size of the opportunity is something I have to assume in Baltimore before I take it. Both Beckham and Pittman should remain on rosters because Baltimore’s offense has a lot of potential and very few reliable receivers. However, neither of them should eat away at your lineup.
Jamar Chase: It was a bad first week for this passing game, but Chase managed to get a target share of 29%. Of course, that turned usage into just 6.4 fantasy points. Not perfect.
Burrow threw 37.5% of his targets to Chase against those Ravens in a playoff game last season, a level of involvement that would put him inside the top 15 wide receivers most weeks. Don’t let last week influence your decision making this week: Chase is my WR8.
Should you trade T Higgins?
Believe it or not, I’ve been asked this question a lot this week.@markern111 Whether or not you should look to trade the talented WR after his historically poor Week 1 performance is down!⤵️⤵️https://t.co/LGdYv7nJy8
– Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) September 14, 2023
T. Higgins: You’ll just have to trust the process here. I don’t think there’s anything I can tell you to make you feel better about the eight-point, eight-goal performance against the Browns. Higgins also struggled in his two games against Baltimore last season (44 yards on 13 targets), so I understand wanting to explore other options, but I’m still out there and have Higgins as a viable WR2.
I lied. I can make you feel better.
Higgins saw just two goals in the opening game of last season, and guess what? Everything was fine. He saw 10 targets the next week, totaling 71 yards, and found the end zone. There are better times ahead for everyone associated with this crime, and Higgins is no exception.
Tyler Boyd: It’s a marginally relevant fantasy when the Bengals’ offense is cooking, so Boyd is completely off the radar while Burrow works to improve his game. Even if you’re in trouble with injuries elsewhere, Boyd still isn’t a must-have player on the roster, though I understand if you want to have him as insurance in case something happens to Chase or Higgins.
Mark Andrews: The hope is that the quad injury that cost Andrews Week 1 isn’t the kind that lingers. As long as the Ravens are comfortable playing him, so should fantasy football managers.
Andrews has seen at least 10 targets in each of his past three games against the division-rival Bengals, and should be relied upon heavily in his first appearance of the season. Don’t get nice here.
Irv Smith Jr: Week 1’s 17-yard stat line didn’t raise any eyebrows, and your teammates around the league probably aren’t remotely concerned. It’s okay, you’re smarter than them.
Can we agree that not every Bengals game will be as ugly as it was last week? If so, shouldn’t we be impressed that Smith was cutting the route on 80% of his snaps? Of course, some of that was a result of game flow, but still…that’s a rate worth keeping an eye on.
Smith is not a fantasy football player this week and doesn’t even need to be on the list. It just needs to stay on the radar of those of us who stream the site.
Should you start Gus Edwards or James Conner?
In most close lineup decisions, I side with the player in the better offense with the mindset that I will take my chances on valuable carries. However, we don’t yet know exactly how touches will break down in Baltimore’s backfield.
Ask me that question next week and my answer might be different, but in light of what (we don’t know), I’ll take the safe folder that came with Connor.
Should you start with Tee Higgins or DJ Moore?
Neither star looked good last week, however, we have both as starting options in our PFN consensus rankings. I’m leaning toward the Higgins approach on this specific question: both can get a similar target share. The traffic pie will be larger in Cincinnati than in Chicago.
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