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Bengals at Browns: Fantasy football starts and sits

A look at which Bengals and Browns should be in your starting lineup.

New York Jets v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

This is the Bengals first shot at the Browns since being openly clowned by them last year. Now both teams are coming into this week not having the 2019 they expected. Cleveland are clinging to the slightest hope of a Wild Card spot, and Cincinnati won their first game last week. Can either of these teams help you get through the playoffs this week?

Must start

  • Nick Chubb, RB, Browns: The Bengals held Le’Veon Bell to an honest game last week, but Chubb really feels like a different matchup altogether. The only things that may be holding him back are a few beat up offensive linemen and a coach who has abandoned the run prematurely already this season. With Baker Mayfield not being 100 percent, though, you have to expect Chubb will get a decent amount of run against a Bengals defense that allows 21.5 fantasy points a game to opposing running backs, according to Fantasy Pros.

Favorable matchups

  • Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals: With Andy Dalton returning to the starting lineup, Boyd returned to his double digit targets. He has to be Dalton’s favorite target for as long as A.J. Green isn’t on the field, and that volume will propel him into having a solid floor with a high fantasy ceiling on Sunday.
  • Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns: Landry is the safer more consistent option at receiver for Cleveland, which is weird to say. Since Week 8, he has had at least double digit targets in all but one game, scored five times. Aside from his revenge game against the Dolphins where he caught 10 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns, he has only crossed 80 yards one other time. He has still be a very solid play in PPR leagues, and we should see more of the same this week.
  • Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals: Dalton being inserted back into the offense really helped open things up for Mixon a little bit more. It was hard to tell against a Jets’ run stout defense, but it was encouraging to see him end the game with another rushing touchdown on the season as well as over 20 touches. If he is given that same workload this week, he will make it worth it for fantasy fans.

Good but not great

  • Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Browns: The Beckham experiment in Cleveland has not been going as smoothly as expected. Since Week 8, Beckham has only reached the end zone once and only reached 80 yards and double digit targets twice. Beckham really is a boom or bust option just about every week, Fortunately, his bust is usually something like four catches and 50ish yards. Considering where you drafted him, that probably isn’t acceptable even at this point in the season.
  • Auden Tate and John Ross, WRs, Bengals: With Ross returning to the team that really could impact the passing game for the Bengals in fantasy. The player with the most to lose is Tate. He already was averaging about four to six catches for 50 to 60 yards. Ross was in the midst of the best start to his career before getting injured in Week 4, but his last two games he only had a combined five catches for 58 yards. Ross is a boom or bust option this week, and I respect the hell out of you for having the balls to take that risk with the playoffs on the line. Neither receiver is anymore than a flex option this week, but Ross obviously has the higher ceiling and lower floor.
  • Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns: Mayfield has not been the same guy he was in 2018. He has only thrown for more than a single touchdown three weeks of this season. He has also rushed for two touchdowns. This offense is still familiar with how and who to attack on this defense, so if their plan still works against this defense, he could be in for a decent game. It still doesn’t seem worth it to try and play Mayfield at less than 100 percent with your season on the line. I’d only consider playing him in two quarterback leagues.
  • Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: In the same vein as Mayfield, you shouldn’t consider playing Dalton outside of two quarterback leagues. Last week he played a pretty solid game, and his stats still only ended up being less than 250 passing yards with just a single touchdown. There were a couple of dropped passes in the endzone, so there is easily room for improvement, but it is still hard to project what kind of game Dalton will have this week.
  • Bengals defense against the Browns: I can’t believe we are at this point, but Cincinnati has played well over the past few weeks on defense, and it may be time you can view them as a waiver wire option for a week. The sacks have really helped their value, because you can’t really rely on a defense to consistently hold an apposing offense to such a low point totals.
  • Kareem Hunt, RB, Browns: Hunt is coming off his best game of 65 receiving yards and a touchdown. That is pretty much as good as it will get for Hunt working behind Chubb. It just seems hard to justify putting a player who at best gets you this, but at worst barely gets you this. His saving grace has been his catches in PPR leagues. He has at least five catches in three of his four games so far.

Just sit them

  • Brown defenses against the Bengals: Without Ryan Finley starting for the Bengals at quarterback, the turnovers and sacks slowed down quite a bit. I wouldn’t try to rely on the Browns defense against the Bengals with all the pressure of the playoffs looming.
  • C.J. Uzomah, TE, Bengals: Uzomah had his best game of the year last week catching five passes for 51 yards. He also ended up dropping a touchdown as well. Don’t chase these points. Ross is returning to soak up some targets, and it is his first game since Week 1 of having more than two catches. He also has six games without a single catch.
  • David Njoku, TE, Browns: This will be Njoku’s first game back from a wrist injury, and coaches were even hesitant to playing him initially. This all points to him not playing as much as you’d like. Can he get a touchdown? That is your only hope of him being worth the play this week.