The Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars get the Thursday Night Football matchup this week, which means you have to make some early fantasy decisions. Before we get to how the matchups look for each team, I’ll give a friendly reminder about how to properly set your lineup when you have Thursday Night Football.
It is a very small thing that may seem obvious to many, but you need to make sure your FLEX spot is not filled on Thursday night. You want to play Joe Mixon or Marvin Jones Jr. tonight? Go for it. But they should be slotted in at one of the running back or wide receiver specific slots on your team.
You could potentially put yourself in a spot where you can’t properly fill a late injury because you can only replace your injured wideout with a fellow wide receiver rather than a wide receiver or running back.
Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals: When these teams met last season Mixon had three touchdowns and ran for over 150 rushing yards and another 30 through the air. Cincinnati hasn’t been shy about their desire to try and ride Mixon early this season to hopefully protect Joe Burrow, so you can expect plenty of volume for Mixon again against this Jacksonville defense.
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Bengals: As the Bengals have played more games, it seems that Burrow’s connection with Chase only gets better. He has four touchdowns in three games, and three of them have come from farther than 30 yards. You can seemingly expect him to get a few deep shots a game. You can probably expect a few more this week when Burrow will likely have some extra motivation in prime time against his former coach at Ohio State that kept him on the bench.
Bengals defense: If Jessie Bates was going to play this would probably be a must start. This defense should still have a nice day after recording 10 sacks so far this season, and linebacker Logan Wilson has been a turnover machine so far this season. There is just enough potential of a big play that this is an iffy play, but managers who stream defenses will be hard-pressed to find a better one off the waiver wire this week.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals: Boyd got in the end zone for the first time last week off a play that was never meant to be a scoring play, but he made an incredible effort bouncing off a huge hit. He also had a few uncharacteristic drops on some big plays, so you can’t say he isn’t getting those deep ball looks without Higgins in the lineup. This is a far more comfortable play in points per reception leagues. This still feels like a game where he gets quite a few looks as the next best target after Chase.
Jaguars wide receivers: Okay so whether you should play Marvin Jones Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr., or DJ Chark Jr. probably depends on your format. In PPR leagues, Jones and Shenault have double-digit catches and are likely to be safety valves for Trevor Lawrence all game long as he will be under plenty of pressure. Chark is better in standard leagues as the big play receiver, but he is a boom or bust receiver who could catch Eli Apple or the safety replacing Bates napping deep. All three are too close to call, but all seem to be WR3 type value.
Joe Burrow, QB, Bengals: Once we see an uptick in Burrow’s volume of throws, fantasy owners should feel more comfortable playing him. It will also help once Tee Higgins (OUT with shoulder injury) returns to the lineup. Right now, it is hard to say Burrow will put up enough yardage to help make him one of the top 10 quarterbacks in fantasy this week. If you are in a two-quarterback league, you should feel comfortable with this start.
James Robinson, RB, Jaguars: The Bengals have put the clamps down on two of the top running backs this season, and the only reason that Najee Harris had a fantasy relevant day was because he was force-fed all the touches they could give him in the running and passing game. Robinson is coming off his best game, but the Bengals just aren’t a good matchup for a running back who isn’t going to catch more than six passes.
Just sit them
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jaguars: There is no need to get cute here. Bates is out, but Lawrence has had issues adjusting to the NFL, and this pass rush isn’t going to make things easier. He can be avoided even in two quarterback leagues.
Tight ends: I love C.J. Uzomah, but you are gambling on him scoring his first touchdown of the season to be even be worth the play. The Jaguars have James O'Shaughnessy who has caught seven passes this season. However, he is on the injured reserve, and none of his replacements have over two catches.
Jaguars defense: Both Joes for the Bengals should make sure that there won’t be much fantasy relevance for this defense.