CIN @ CLE
Over/Under 43.5 CLE -6
What’s going on with this line? CLE just got destroyed against BAL in Week 1, 38 to 6. I’m not sure the Browns have earned the right to be just about a TD favorite against anyone just yet. It’s worth noting that this line started at O/U 46 with an even more astounding CLE -8.5, so at least the oddsmakers are slowly backing off their initial craziness. Now, I’m not saying CLE can’t cover, but I am saying they haven’t earned our expectation that they can cover anything against anyone. That might change this week.
Also wanted to remind everyone: football is back!!!
WEEK 1 NOTES: CIN
Weeks 2 to around 10 are probably my favorite weeks to write about because everyone is still in the playoff hunt so we don’t have to guess ulterior motives AND we have tape! In game 1, especially without a preseason we had to make a lot of educated guesses in terms of targets and usage and now for the next 9 weeks or so we can look back at recent data to make better educated guesses of what we expect to happen. With that in mind, let’s talk a little bit about how CIN started the season in Week 1.
Last week, Joe Burrow and Co actually kept things as close as Vegas expected, losing to the Chargers 16 – 13 (Spread was -3). They struggled to score in their first game with a rookie QB against an experienced defense; that’s pretty much par for the course. QB Burrow was unable to record his first passing TD, but his 46 yards rushing and 1 Rushing TD both were a pleasant surprise. He’s no Lamar, but we’d be coming into this week 2 differently if Burrow was unable to get any points on the board. We know he has the receivers, a good pass catching back and the pedigree but it was very nice to see the rookie QB finding ways to score. Let’s not forget the Chargers are a tough matchup for any young QB. They’re very experienced and they’re very athletic. AJ Green led the team in targets with 9, catching 5, followed closely with 5 targets by Boyd and 5 targets for Ross. TE Uzomah had himself a nice little game too with 4 catches on 5 targets. This is probably an accurate representation of what the Bengals want to do going forward, with probably a couple of those TE targets heading towards Boyd as Burrow blossoms with confidence as the season progresses.
The usage for Mixon was nice to see; 19 rushing attempts is solid. He was only on the field 59% of the team’s snaps so it appears that when he’s on the field he’s getting the ball as often as they can get it in his hands. One thing the Bengals will do a better job of going forward is getting him more involved in the passing game. Quite frankly they have to do this if they want to be successful. He’s a great pass catching back and he could take a lot of pressure off of Burrow and help boost his confidence if they can design some easy targets to Mixon from the QB. I hope they do this, it always seems like this team goes through stretches of the season forgetting how good Mixon is and then all of a sudden they remember.
WEEK 1 NOTES: CLE
The city of Cleveland should be working with the title company as we speak to make sure everything is in order for the deed transfer, since Lamar Jackson owns it now. What an absolute embarrassment that CLE @ BAL game was. We knew the Ravens were going to win, but the Browns rolled over and just let it happen pretty early on. Baker Mayfield has the receiving corps to at least throw from behind all the time to make the scoreboard look respectable but for whatever reason he doesn’t know how or can’t do this. It’s crazy. I could go on and on about this stupid team but ultimately in a blowout like this, the stats are empty because they only tell us what a CLE team plays like when it’s getting destroyed and not when they’re playing in a much more competitive contest like they have in store for Week 2.
This is about as easy as it gets. This entire matchup comes down to the CLE O-line vs the CIN D-line. The Bengals D-line barely held their own against a weak and also injured offensive line and the Browns O-line comes into this game as one of the highest rated lines in the league. Last week’s scoreline didn’t show that, but this week’s game certainly will. CLE needs to run the ball down the throats of the Bengals and they’ll easily cover the 6 point spread. The hardest DFS decision here is deciding whether to play 7600 Nick Chubb or RB2 Kareem Hunt at 7400 or both. Chubb will score a TD and Kareem Hunt will score a TD and either could score multiple. With Jarvis Landry coming into the game with a Q tag, I don’t think that even matters. Baker Mayfield at 10200 targeted Beckham 10 times last game and barely connected. Look for Odell Beckham Jr at 8200 to stretch the field for Mayfield and Chubb and Hunt to nickel and dime the crap out of the Bengals defense. The efficiency in the passing game will improve dramatically in this game for the Odell/Baker combo because Baker is just not going to throw as much and when he does the receivers are going to be open as the D pinches in on the run. I don’t like any of the other receivers because they don’t really have to do anything for CLE to win, but I do like 6800 Austin Hooper for 5 to 7 easy targets with Njoku gone and the OC looking to make things real easy for the QB in this one. I lowkey also kinda like K Cody Parkey at 4400. If you think that the Browns are going to get their ground game going but epicly fail in the redzone then the kicker very well might be asked to kick 3 or 4 times. That scenario is fairly realistic and would net Parkey something close to 15 points potentially. I like: Odell. Hunt. Chubb. Mayfield. Hooper. And a sprinkle of Parkey. In that order.
I don’t trust the CLE defense at all. Joe Burrow at 10800 has spunk and he’s only getting better from here on out. As his first NFL game progressed, he started off a little shaky but by the end he was in full command of the offense and much like Josh Allen, would battle a tiger wielding a toothpick if it helped get his team a win. The problem he’ll encounter is that with CLE running so much, he’s not going to have enough opportunities to throw the ball to make the necessary magic happen. The effort will be there though, I don’t expect to be rostering him too often but I do expect that he’ll get his first passing TD in this one. To who? That’s the question of this offense. AJ Green at 9000 looked good last game, he and his QB certainly had a connection. I prefer Tyler Boyd in this one in this slot, at 7000, with the same upside and facing the same coverage BAL Mark Andrews torched in that area of the field last week. John Ross at 5200 was on the field a ton last week, but did mostly nothing with it. I’m not sure I like him in this game more than a salary saving dart throw. At the price point, 5000 TE C.J. (no relation) Uzomah is my preferred option. He’s probably got lower upside, but the floor is higher and he’s a great set of training wheels for Burrow as he’s gaining confidence throughout his first quarter of the season. For this game, I’d suggest kicking RB Mixon out of your life. Unless they get him involved in the passing game, he’s going to be useless for your rosters. Eventually he’ll get involved in the passing game, but it makes too much sense for the Bengals to figure that out so early on in the season. His RB2 Giovani Bernard at 3000 is a solid pick though. He’s getting the “we’re down in the game” passing reps. All it takes is a broken play for Bernard to take one to the house off a dump off and you should have decent ownership leverage to get your lineups into the green.
Kareem Hunt — 7400
Odell Beckham Jr — 8200
Nick Chubb — 7600
Tyler Boyd — 7000
MEDIAN PLAYER POOL
Baker Mayfield — 10200
Austin Hooper — 6800
Joe Burrow — 10800
Giovani Bernard — 3000
CJ Uzomah — 5000
AJ Green –9000
Cody Parkey — 4400
Good luck in this week’s Thursday Night Showdown!