The Bengals and Browns matchup this year will be slightly different than in past seasons for fantasy fans. Rather than just rushing to stick as many Bengals in your lineup as possible, you should be trying to get plenty of players from both sides in there.
Here are this week’s starts and sits for when the Bengals host the Browns:
Nick Chubb (Browns RB): I’m willing to receive the criticism that will undoubtedly be headed my way for having Chubb as a must start and not Joe Mixon, but when Mixon starts getting the opportunities that Chubb has gotten of late, perhaps he’ll become a more attractive alternative. Chubb has at least 18 carries in his last four games and three touchdowns in that same span, and the Bengals defense can’t stop the run. This is as easy as it gets.
Joe Mixon (Bengals RB): With that said, playing Mixon isn’t your worst strategy. In the last five games, Mixon has only had more than 15 carries once. It probably isn’t a coincidence that game he surpassed that was the only win the Bengals have had over that stretch. I don’t know why the Bengals ignore Mixon so often (especially when A.J. Green has missed a few games), but until they really commit to him his ceiling in fantasy is a touchdown dependent running back in standard scoring, and as a RB2 in PPR leagues.
Tyler Boyd (Bengals WR): Boyd had an okay game last week considering what his stats have looked like without Green in the lineup. Despite only having four catches for 71 yards, he was targeted 11 times, which was more than double anyone else on the team. With Green’s status up in the air again this week, that shouldn’t change. Also, he is going against a softer defense against the pass as long as they can keep him away from cornerback Denzel Ward.
Baker Mayfield (Browns QB): Mayfield has been on fire as of late, and let’s be real, the Bengals’ defense doesn’t look like it’s turning any corners soon. Mayfield should at least end up with a couple touchdowns, and with Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff on bye weeks, he is a very nice plug and play option.
Good but not great
Duke Johnson (Browns RB): Johnson is easily one of the most talented Browns players, but he doesn’t always get the usage that reflects that. In Week 9 against the Chiefs he had nine catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns, but in Week 10 he only had seven touches for 46 total yards and a touchdown. Even in PPR leagues Johnson is dependent on getting a touchdown, and I’d say if Cleveland is smart they’ll take advantage of him matched up with Cincinnati’s linebackers in the red zone.
David Njoku (Browns TE): Speaking of talented players who don’t get enough looks, Njoku ranks pretty high in Cleveland. Against the Bengals it would be surprising to not see him get a few more looks and a have a game worthy of being in your starting lineup.
John Ross (Bengals WR): Ross scoring a touchdown saved what would’ve been an otherwise dreadful day at the office for him. If Green remains to be out, he should get a few extra targets, and there is a chance he could have a nice game as a flex player. Still, Ross remains the epitome of a boom or bust option.
Andy Dalton (Bengals QB): Dalton had an okay outing with just over 200 passing yards and two touchdowns last week. If that is what you’re looking for from your fantasy quarterback than go ahead and add Dalton. Otherwise, you can keep him on the waiver wire or bench waiting for Green to return.
Browns wide receivers: Mayfield spread the ball out very well in Week 10. His most targeted receiver was Jarvis Landry with five, but he only turned that into two catches. Meanwhile, two of his three touchdown passes went to running backs, and the only touchdown that went to a receiver was Rashard Higgins only catch of the day. Even with Dre Kirkpatrick potentially out, the way Mayfield spreads the ball around makes it hard to recommend starting anyone.
The defenses: Neither defense is an attractive option for streaming this week. The Bengals proved last week that even with someone new calling plays it doesn’t matter if the linebackers are as bad as they’ve been.
Cleveland also shouldn’t be holding Cincinnati to a low enough score or creating enough turnovers that they’d be worth picking up either, but if you have to choose one of these two I’d take Cleveland’s defense with the Bengals likely playing without Green.
C.J. Uzomah (Bengals TE): Uzomah was the second most targeted player last week, but it feels like he should be way more involved with Green out. It didn’t help that fantasy owners saw a touchdown go to Matt Lengel instead.