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*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
*Side note: We have a Patrick Mahomes nickname contest winner…to be announced later today. I had the runner up idea (according to me), but someone submitted a nickname last night that is perfect (and someone else thought of that same label today as well). Unless someone has something to beat the clubhouse leader, this currently-leading nickname will be announced in a bit. Thank you to all the submissions…no matter how ridiculous some of them were ;)
Well, do you believe me know about the Cincinnati Bengals for 2018? If you watched this game, especially the first half, you saw the potential for this team to be a fringe playoff group…not one of the worst teams in football per the analysts/Vegas/the fans.
After two viewings in 2018, I’m not as impressed as I wanted to be by Cincy…but they’re getting better every quarter (on defense). I’m going to get my more-than-6.5-wins this season but making it to and winning a playoff game may be a stretch. They are an 8-8 collection of talent coached down to a 6-10 unit, but the schedule is going to push them to 8-8/9-7 this season. Going 2-0 out of the gates was key to my 6.5+ win bet this year. Now, they likely collapse for a bit – back-to-back road games with CAR and ATL the next two weeks without Joe Mixon. If they somehow win one of their next two, they are going to the playoffs and possibly winning the AFC North. I assume they lose the next two, and eventually head to Week 6 at 3-2 hosting the Steelers for the biggest game the Bengals have this year. Beat PIT and jump to 4-2 and send the Steelers to a possible 3-2-1/2-3-1 with a win over them in the bank and the Bengals are suddenly in the driver’s set of the AFC North. Lose to PIT in Week 6 and Cincy is likely fighting to go 8-8/9-7 this year.
If the Bengals can win of their next two and beat the Steelers Week 6…Cincy could be 5-1 with a 2-3 game lead in the division with wins over BAL and PIT and with two Browns games still to go. The Bengals fate lies in the next four weeks. I have a funny feeling they’re going to blow the opportunity.
The Ravens were exposed as frauds once again – they crush bad offenses like the Bills, then everyone gets all worked up by the metrics and stats of their defense…and then they play a decent+ team and get rolled by the opposing offense. The Ravens are the +/- 8-8 team that always gives you a fight but doesn’t have a prayer of making noise at the next level.
We just took one step closer to the Lamar Jackson era with this loss. Hosting Denver Week 3 and then three road games in a row. I can see the Ravens 3-6/4-5 after a Week 9 loss to the Steelers being the final straw for the Joe Flacco era.
This game was 34-23 final, but the Ravens were down 21-0 and 28-7 at various points but closed the gap and looked like a comeback was possible but it always fizzled. Honestly, this game wasn’t that close. The Bengals cranked it up as needed. The Cincy-D was great early, showing signs of the Cincy defense I’d been chirping about all preseason. With the game slipping away, the Ravens got a lucky deep ball connection on a pass that went through a defender’s hands and into the receivers to keep a drive alive (and an eventual TD) when the Bengals were about to blow the thing wide open. Soon after, on another drive, the Ravens lucked out with a ticky-tack penalty extended a drive after a 3rd-down conversion failure…and eventually the Ravens scored a TD off it. This game was begging to be 30+ to 0 but the Ravens lucked into some points and closed the gap, but credit to Cincy who then closed the door when they needed to. The Bengals held the upper hand all night, you could feel it.
You could use the Bengals-DST versus CAR-ATL-MIA the next three weeks, I guess, but I don’t love it. I don’t see the total ‘it’ yet with the Cincy D. There should be other/better options week-to-week. This defense has pieces of something really good, but it’s not there yet.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- What to do with injured Joe Mixon (21-84-0, 1-3-0/1)?
Obviously, you hold and make the best of it for two weeks. Out vs. CAR Week 3 might have done us a favor with that crappy Cincy run blocking and excellent Panthers run-defense. He might be back for Week 4, but probably Week 5. They need him right for Week 6 vs. the Steelers in that YUGE game.
Gio Bernard (6-27-0, 4-15-0/7) gets all the touches in relief here. Him running vs. the Panthers is not great either, but he’s an RB1 threat in PPR on catch counts.
People are asking about picking up rookie RB Mark Walton. Mark Walton? What? You want to play someone coming out of nowhere you play Tra Carson. He’s the #3 RB. He may even split with Gio some. I could see Carson taking a few relief hand-offs and making hay and taking over the steering wheel…at least, in my head that sounds good. Carson is due for an opportunity…and he’s pretty good.
-- I was enjoying the TNF announcers telling us about the great shutdown corner Marlon Humphrey…as A.J. Green kept pasting TDs on the Ravens one after another in the 1st-half. The Ravens missing CB Jimmy Smith (suspension) is a big deal and is why we rate the Ravens defense as ‘not a great threat’ to opposing offenses in our projections.
Tyler Boyd (6-91-1/9) had a bit of a reemergence here. He’s moved into the consistent WR3 week-to-week conversation. With all the attention AJG is going to get…Boyd is the most reliable other receiver/option outside of the dump pass to an RB.
Josh Ross (1-8-0/4) can go/leave in normal redraft leagues. I took him some as a flyer in long TD bonus leagues – but I’m not sure the Bengals have even set up a proper bomb or bubble screen for him. He goes on ice where I have any better options to look at.
-- An inauspicious start for Alex Collins (9-35-0, 3-55-0/4) in 2018…9 carries here, 7 carries opening week. We haven’t even got to him fumbling a lot yet.
If you went against my wishes and grabbed him, you’re stuck. Stuck waiting to see if this is just two odd game scenarios or this is the real Alex Collins for fantasy 2018. Watching Buck Allen (6-8-1, 5-36-0/7) come into the game in red zone situations is your real answer – Collins can’t be trusted to not fumble or drop a pass in critical spots, so he’s limited. If the Ravens get up, they’ll try to pound the ball with Collins…that’s your only window of opportunity -- and it’s fleeting.
-- John Brown (4-92-1/10) just doesn’t do it for me. Big 45-yard catch on a pass that was all but picked off, but the DB whiffed the ball right through his hands and it ‘look what I found’ right into Brown’s hands on an air mailed, triple covered bomb. His eventual TD catch was him covered tightly in the red zone, the ball never should have been thrown but it was, an alley-oop…and it was a miracle Brown caught it.
These ‘miracle’ catches are not a sign that Brown is Larry Fitzgerald. No, they are literal miracles. Brown doesn’t have great hands. He’s off to a hot start, and I’d sell it. Sure, guys who aren’t great WRs but are/were in the right place at the right time like Nelson Agholor or Will Fuller have been can get hot for stretches at a time, and maybe ‘Smokey’ is going there, but I don’t trust the Ravens passing game…or Brown. I’d sell it hot.
-- Ravens rookie LB Kenny Young (8 tackles, 1 TFL) is becoming ‘a thing’. Second most snaps at LB for the Ravens this game. 4 tackles and a TFL last week. He’s not a star, but he’s quick to the ball/carrier…and now ‘starting’ he’s making some IDP noise.
Also, on the Ravens IDP front – DL Chris Wormley (2 tackles, 1 TFL) played 47% of the snaps this game. A TFL this week, and 2 PDs last week. Things are heating up for a former college DE prospect with Aaron Donald-ish metrics as a DT.
-- C.J. Uzomah (3-45-0/4) is starting to ‘stand out’ more than Tyler Eifert (2-23-0/4), to me. Marvin Lewis said, in the preseason, he was dialing back Eifert’s snaps – he is. He can do that because Uzomah is a really nice-looking TE. Meanwhile, Tyler Kroft (2-11-0/2) is fading into 3rd-best of the three TEs here.
They’re all splitting time, and the biggest takeaway is – the split renders them all mostly FF-meaningless at this point.
Snap Counts of Interest:
69 = AJ Green
58 = Tyler Boyd
45 = John Ross
49 = Eifert
37 = Uzomah
34 = Kroft
39 = Mixon
39 = Gio
02 = Carson
53 = Lawson (62%)
49 = Jordan Willis
84 = Jesse Bates
70 = Shawn Williams
16 = Fejedelem
43 = Boyle
35 = Mark Andrews
28 = Maxx Williams
75 = Onwuasor
58 = Kenny Young
42 = J Allen
42 = A Collins