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Cincy crushed Cleveland here, but the shame of it was the Browns were in this thing for a bit…because of their defense but the offense butchered some opportunities and eventually the points kept piling up. I didn’t think this game signaled the Bengals as 'back'.
Cleveland is falling apart. DeShone Kizer got benched late, as he should. Kenny Britt has become an expensive bust. The Browns poached Bryce Treggs from Philadelphia's practice squad showing this Moneyball group is nothing when it comes to evaluating personnel…and making no progress as time goes on. It's a shame, their defense is so good except at corner but it doesn’t matter because the offense is so bad under Hue Jackson they never sustain drives or score points to help the D.
I will make this guarantee – if the Browns bench Kizer for Kevin Hogan to start this week, the Browns will smoke the Jets. But Hue Jackson will NEVER do such a thing. He married himself to Kizer and he'll go down with the ship. He can't have the one QB he has ignored and not professed love for come in and thrive over his 'guaranteed' guys.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- As I do every week, I watched every Joe Mixon (17-29-0, 4-19-0/4) carry in the game. I gotta tell you…he looks great…still. Why the terrible stat line? For every 5+ yard he reeled off he had several stuffed at the line and late in the game as they tried to run the clock and the Browns run blitzed and dropped him for several -4/-5 yard runs in a row. Plus, the Browns are a great run-stopping unit…and terrible against the pass. Plus, the Bengals have terrible blocking.
Mixon is sniffing around having a moment, a breakout…but it's hard to say given how bad the Bengals game plan of rotating RBs is. One problem for Mixon ahead is – it doesn’t get easier with the schedule: BUF-BYE-PIT the next three weeks. This looks like a choppy year for Mixon until the Bengals fully commit to him.
Every weak weekly result he posts, he's then a 'buy as low as you can' candidate in dynasty. At some point this will pop.
-- With about 8 minutes left in the game, the Browns yanked failing rookie DeShone Kizer (16-34 for 118 yards, 0 TD/1 INT)…in a 31-0 lost cause. They inserted Kevin Hogan (5-8 for 65 yards, 0 TD/0 INT), star of their Week 2 almost-win versus Indy (until they put Kizer back in post-migraine)…and Hogan led the team down the field for a score. As I said in Week 2—Hogan is the best QB the Browns have and it's a travesty that he's not starting.
I wouldn't rule out a last-second switch to Hogan this week to start. I wouldn't rule out a switch at the half of Week 5. If Hogan enters – this is a more dangerous team…be careful if you are eyeing the Jets as a survivor pick. If I knew Hogan was playing I'd bet on Cleveland.
Hogan breathes life into Rashard Higgins a little, not enough to get excited about. He also works the tight ends decently. He's a scrappy QB who is far superior to DeShone Kizer. The switch should have been made earlier but Hue Jackson is a genius so…you know…don't question him. He knows QBs, as you can tell from the Browns the past two years.
-- Duke Johnson's (9-47-0/10, 4-13-1) targets have gone from 2 to 3 to 6 to 9 over the four games of 2017. I mostly buy that Johnson is going to be a player seeing a ton of targets, but I wonder how much he will be subject to the game situations. You love the cheap, easy targets when the Browns are down by a hundred and just dumping passes late versus a prevent defense. I suspect they'll be in those situations a lot.
But…if Kevin Hogan takes over and the defenses rises up…there may not be as many chances. Hue Jackson needs to start winning games or he'll be fired in-season. The circumstances keep changing every week and there is a fine line between being an awesome PPR back and just having a one-game spike due to game events a la Shane Vereen having nine catches opening day and not many since.
Duke is as logical a gamble as any other one of these types of guys.
-- I mocked Tyler Kroft (6-68-2/7) as a viable fantasy option after his three catch game in Week 3. I didn’t see him as a real player and thought C.J. Uzomah (1-11-0/1) would muddy these very shallow waters. The thing I overlooked was – Kroft is not a bad player. Of course, scoring 2 TDs in Week 4 helped wake me up, but I noted after Week 3 tape after re-watching that – noting I was a little too harsh at first.
Now, I'm just admitting I'm a short-sighted idiot. Kroft is pretty good…and I’d argue works as good/better with Andy Dalton than Tyler Eifert has in the past 1+ seasons. It's been a while since Eifert was dominant.
I don’t know that Kroft is a TE1, but after the first 2-3-4 TEs on the weekly list…everyone has a chance to be a TE1, amiright? I'm kinda digging what I see with Kroft quite frankly.
-- My beloved young Browns defensive update…
Joe Schobert (12 tackles) is now #9 in the league in tackles. I told you in August he'd make a run at leading the league in tackles out of nowhere.
Emmanuel Ogbah (6 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 3.5 TFLs, 2 FF) was a monster in this game. A wrecking crew. I can't wait until he pairs with Myles Garrett.
Trevon Coley (4 tackles, 1.0 sacks)…another 4 tackles. Didn’t I tell you to keep a watch? 4-5-4 tackles from a DT the last three weeks, not bad.
-- I've been waiting for Nick Vigil (12 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 3.0 TFLs) to get a real chance, and now it seems he has – he was a menace in this game. He's such a good linebacker and should have been starting years ago. He's top 10 in the league in tackles as well.
Nick Vigil and Joe Schobert – both are going to be great IDP LBs this season.
-- Andy Dalton (25-30 for 286 yards and 4 TD/0 INT) had a big game but I don’t think a major turnaround has happened for him/the team. A new O-C has meant 6 TDs/0 INTs in 2 games…but it's come against GB and CLE.
BUF-BYE-PIT-IND-JAX-TEN-DEN will break him again most weeks.