The Bengals and Browns both have the things you want to see as a fantasy player. An offense that is capable of putting up points, and a defense that simply doesn’t matchup with the opposition. You’ll notice that there will be plenty of starts because of this.
Kareem Hunt, running back, Browns: Quite simply put, this Cleveland offensive line manhandled Cincinnati’s defensive line the last time these two teams played. It is hard to see that changing without guys like D.J. Reader and Sam Hubbard. That means Hunt should be able to have a huge game on the ground, and there is no reason to be worried about playing him.
Odell Beckham Jr., wide receiver, Browns: William Jackson will be out for the Bengals, which is a huge blow to this secondary. Beckham is also coming off a rough outing last week, but the fact Baker Mayfield didn’t face any pressure the last time these teams met. That usually means he can hit Beckham for at least a few big plays like the one he scored on when these teams played in Cleveland in Week 2.
Baker Mayfield, quarterback, Browns: Mayfield was objectively bad last week. He was injured and getting pressured an insane amount. He doesn’t have to worry about those ribs this week as Cincinnati should have issues getting pressure on him this week like Pittsburgh was able to. The only thing that could hold Mayfield back is him losing touchdowns to the running game.
Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, wide receivers, Bengals: Outside of Denzel Ward, this Cleveland secondary struggles to stop just about anyone. A.J. Green also had a nice game last week, but Higgins also had his first 100 yard receiving game of his career, and connected on a deep pass with Joe Burrow last week. Boyd had his best game of the season against the Browns in Week 2, and there is good reason to believe he can repeat that again this week as long as Burrow gets any meaningful amount of time to throw.
Joe Burrow, quarterback, Bengals: Burrow had the best game of his rookie year in Week 2 when he tossed three touchdowns. It was the closest thing we’ve seen to what Burrow looked like at LSU in the NFL, and we really should see a similar outing this week. Cincinnati decided to throw the ball 61 times that week, and we could see that again without Joe Mixon. Also Burrow has thrown for at least 300 yards in all but two games this season.
Good but not great
A.J. Green, wide receiver, Bengals: It is very likely that Ward will be shadowing Green, which is just terrible for those trying to chase the points Green put up last week. He just hasn’t really performed when having to face the top coverage guys this season, and it also hurts that he just isn’t the same guy that Cincinnati fans know. There is a good chance they still force feed him, and throwing the ball a ton opens up opportunities for him, but don’t expect him to be more than a flex option this week.
Jarvis Landry, wide receiver, Browns: A rib injury had Landry limited Landry in practice this week, and he has already been playing through a hip surgery recovery this season. This is a really good matchup, but if Cleveland chooses to run the ball until Cincinnati stops it then Landry won’t get many opportunities. Landry has a pretty low floor this week, which is never a good combination with injuries and a lack of targets. It is still a very hard matchup to pass up.
Giovani Bernard, running back, Bengals: The constant passing attack we should see this week really plays in Bernard’s favor, but the team may also be asking him to stay in and help block more often to help protect their rookie quarterback. Bernard should have a solid outing in PPR leagues as a flex option, but fantasy players expecting him to blowup may want to temper expectations.
David Njoku, tight end, Browns: Austin Hooper had an appendicitis this week that will make him unavailable this week. This could be a chance for the Browns to showcase Njoku for a possible trade or really work him into the offense going forward. The reason he isn’t higher is there is a chance that Harrison Bryant actually gets just as much of an opportunity as Njoku with Hooper out.
Just sit them
Browns defense: If I had to choose one of these defenses to play this week it would have to be Cleveland’s. Myles Garrett is scary, and it is far more likely their pass rush is able to fluster Burrow than Cincinnati’s can get to Mayfield. Pressure can make a rookie do silly things with the ball, but it is also much more likely that Burrow toasts them again.
Bengals defense: No Reader, Hubbard or Jackson this week. We should also expect to see very little Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap as the drama there continues to steam up. Combine that with how badly this unit got beat up in Week 2, and there is just no reason to play them this week.