Kickoff Sunday, Dec 19th 4:05pm Eastern

Bengals (
20.5) at

Broncos (
23.5)

Over/Under 44.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
Bengals Run D
10th DVOA/5th Yards allowed per carry
Broncos Run O
17th DVOA/13th Yards per carry
Bengals Pass D
14th DVOA/26th Yards allowed per pass
Broncos Pass O
9th DVOA/19th Yards per pass
Broncos Run D
8th DVOA/15th Yards allowed per carry
Bengals Run O
29th DVOA/23rd Yards per carry
Broncos Pass D
6th DVOA/8th Yards allowed per pass
Bengals Pass O
29th DVOA/7th Yards per pass

Covid Updates coming throughout the weekend on OWS (Posted at 8:30pm ET Dec 16th).

Game Overview ::

By HILOW >>
  • Bengals corner Chidobe Awuzie and tackle Riley Reiff have already been ruled out for this weekend, while tackle Isaiah Prince, linebacker Logan Wilson, and backup center Trey Hill have yet to practice this week.
  • The Broncos are (currently) a little better off on the injury (and COVID) front, with only defensive end Dre’Mont Jones and inside linebacker Kenny Young yet to practice this week (as of Thursday).
  • 29th and 30th offenses in situation-neutral pace of play, 28th and 31st offenses in overall pace of play, and 26th and 31st offenses in pace of play when trailing by seven or more points – there are not going to be a ton of plays in this one.

How Cincinnati Will Try To Win ::

The Bengals have evolved into a much more balanced offense as the season has progressed, ranking in the middle of the league in both situation-neutral and overall rush-pass rates. They are, however, one of the slowest offenses in the league, ranking 30th in situation-neutral pace of play, 31st in overall pace of play this season, and even 31st in pace of play when trailing by seven or more points. Even with the slow pace of play, a defense ranking sixth in drive success rate allowed has allowed this team to run near league-average total offensive plays per game, rushes per game, and pass attempts per game. For all intents and purposes, this surprisingly effective defense is a large part of the success the Bengals have enjoyed this season, as the offense is near league-average in most major metrics, including points per drive (11th), total yards of offense per game (16th), drive success rate (19th), and yards per drive (20th).

The emergence of Samaje Perine has allowed the Bengals to keep Joe Mixon’s snap rates within reason this season, typically landing in the 65-75% range. Think of Mixon and his weekly expected workload as a tick below truly elite but a tick above “2021 NFL lead back” status. His weekly rush attempts depend largely on game flow while his weekly pass game involvement has been hit or miss, at best (four to six targets in four games, with eight games of two targets or fewer). Expect a floor of 16-18 rush attempts with unknown pass game involvement and ceiling for 30+ carries in the right game environments. Perine should see a typically backup range of outcomes of eight to 12 running back opportunities in most game environments. The matchup on the ground yields a surprisingly robust 4.465 net-adjusted line yards metric against a Denver defense allowing just 21.7 fantasy points per game to opposing backfields (only eight total touchdowns allowed to running backs this season).

As we’ve previously explored in this space, rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is the only pass-catcher to play a near every-down role for this team, with slot man Tyler Boyd typically landing in the 75-85% snap rate range, perimeter wideout Tee Higgins typically landing in the 75-80% snap rate range, and tight end CJ Uzomah typically landing in the 65-85% snap rate range. Wide receivers Stanley Morgan and Mike Thomas are on hand as depth pieces, while blocking tight end Drew Sample typically soaks up 35-50% of the offensive snaps as well. The Broncos have surprisingly faced the third-deepest average depth of target against at 9.0, but have forced the league’s lowest completion rate against (58.41%) and are near league average in average yards after catch allowed. Expect a slight boost to the deeper aDOT wide receivers here, which are primarily Chase (13.1) and Higgins (12.1).

How Denver Will Try to win ::

While the Broncos are viewed as primarily a run-first offense, their overall rush-pass rates have been heavily influenced by game flow all season. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has seven games of 33 pass attempts or more and five games of 26 pass attempts or fewer, indicating an offense that would prefer to run the football in games they control, but one that is also not afraid to open things up when they need to. This has led to just-below-average overall pass rates (a tick below the Bengals) and wildly swinging pass attempts per game. The true identity of this team is based around an aggressive defense (10th most turnovers generated per drive, sixth-fewest time of possession allowed per drive, third-lowest time of possession allowed per drive, and eighth fewest yards allowed per drive) that aims to control games, allowing for increased rush rates when possible – not the other way around. As in, this isn’t a team that is built around the run first, rather a team that will utilize increased rush rates when their defense allows them to.

Melvin Gordon returned after a one-game absence last week to the same near-even split with Javonte Williams in both snap rate and usage. As such, expect each to require a game environment conducive to increased overall rush rates in order to return the requisite volume needed for ceiling games. What I mean by that is this: a standard range of outcomes as far as running back opportunities goes is 14-18 for both Williams and Gordon – they typically have needed the defense to provide a game environment where the offense can increase their rush rates in order to go over that range. The matchup on the ground is one of the more difficult these Broncos have seen this season, yielding a below-average 4.065 net-adjusted line yards metric. Considering Teddy Bridgewater targets his running backs at a below-average rate, and that already low target rate is split between two bodies, we should primarily view each of Gordon and Williams as “yardage and touchdown backs with a hint of added floor through the air.”

The Broncos pass game has devolved into a spread offense that utilizes 11- and 12-personnel at above-league-average rates. Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick operate as the primary perimeter weapons, while Jerry Jeudy operates primarily from the slot, and Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam typically split tight end snaps at a 75/45 clip. For all the talk surrounding Teddy Bridgewater and his conservative ways, he actually holds top 12 marks in both intended air yards per pass attempt and total completed air yards this season. This makes sense when examining his pass-catchers, the wide receivers of which all hold above-average depths of targets (Sutton: 15.1, Patrick: 10.8, Jeudy: 7.7, which is slightly above average for a slot weapon). The tight end duo of Noah Fant and Albert O are the only two below average aerial weapons in aDOT. The Bengals cede an 8.0 average depth of target on defense, exactly in line with Bridgewater’s mark. The absence of Chidobe Awuzie is a big deal for this offense, who has partnered with Eli Apple to allow a minuscule 45.1% completion rate in primary coverage against opposing perimeter wide receivers – more on this below

Likeliest Game flow ::

We’re likely to see an extremely slow-paced, slug-it-out start to this one, with the clearest path for that to open up coming through the Cincinnati pass game, primarily through deep passing. Since we know the Broncos have yielded deeper passing, and since we know the Broncos are willing and able to open their offense up to include increased pass rates, this single game flow gives this one the best chance of turning into a game with greater than league average offensive plays run from scrimmage. In every other game environment, we should expect a slow-paced game with increased rush rates from each side. This brings up an interesting point in that this game has a relatively hidden path to pass game relevance, yet the field is highly unlikely to view it as such. The best way to capture that hidden upside is through a correlated pairing of pass-catchers from each side, which is almost guaranteed to be low-owned this week. I would limit exposure in this case to Ja’Marr Chase or Tee Higgins from the Bengals, while quite literally any Bronco pass-catcher could be the one to see a bump in production, although it is likeliest to come through either Sutton or Patrick on the perimeter – whichever one is away from Eli Apple, as Mike Hilton is one of the better slot cover corners in the league this year. Per alignments, that is most likely to be Sutton.


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DFS+ Interpretation ::

By Dwprix >>

Overview:

  • 7th highest total (44) 
  • DEN is favored by 2.5 after opening 5.5
  • DEN pts allowed at home last 4: (10, 13, 30, 10)
  • CIN lost 2 straight at home & now has to play in Denver at altitude (weather shouldn’t be an issue, 58 degrees)
  • CIN pts last 2: (22, 23) // Previous 6: (41, 32, 16, 31, 41, 34)

Joe Burrow:

  • Burrow broke his streak of four straight games w/o 2 pass TDs last week
  • 7 of last 10 games w/ 20+ DK pts
  • Burrow’s ($6.1k) season high price was $7.1k WK 9
  • DEN QB pts allowed at home: (Goff 12.6) // (Herbert 24.7) // (Hurts 19.6) // (Heinicke 13.8) // (Carr 24.5) // (Jackson 22.4) // (Wilson 4.6) 
  • DEN allows the 5th least DK pts/g to QBs (16.7)

CIN WRs:

  • Team tgt share: (Higgins 25%) // (Chase 24%) // (Boyd 19%)
  • Rec TD share: (Chase 33%) // (Higgins 23%) // (Boyd 8%) 
  • Tgts last 3: (Chase 8,8,3) // (Higgins 7,14,8) // (Boyd 5,7,2)
  • Ja’Marr Chase hasn’t broke 77 yds in six games
  • He scored 2 TDs on 5 rec last week
  • $7.1k is $500 cheaper than his WK 9 season high
  • Higgins has three straight with 100+ yds 
  • DK pts last 3: (19.4, 31.8, 26.4)
  • He’s a season high $6.5k
  • DEN allows the 6th highest yds/rec (11.1)
  • CIN ranks 3rd in yds/rec (11.3)
  • DEN allows the 8th least DK pts to WRs (33.0)

CIN TEs:

  • Uzomah tgts last 4: (6,6,3,3)
  • No games with 6 or more catches
  • He hasn’t scored since WK 7
  • WK 9 season high was $3.9k // $3.1k this week
  • DEN allows the 3rd least DK pts to TEs (8.4)

Joe Mixon:

  • Mixon last 2 (both losses by 20+): (18:58, 8.8 DK pts) // (19:54:1 TD, 10.4 DK pts)
  • Two games before those (both wins by 18+): (28:165:2 TDs, 35.3 DK pts) // (30:123:2 TDs, 27.3 DK pts) 
  • Mixon ($7.2k) is the 3rd highest priced RB for the 2nd straight week (Harris-$7.8k, Elliott-$7.3k)
  • Last week was Mixon’s 1st game not scoring a rush or rec TD since WK 3
  • His price has came down $900 from a season high $8.1k two weeks ago
  • Den allows the 7th least DK pts to RBs (21.7)

Teddy Bridgewater: 

  • Bridgewater ($5.5k) hasn’t had 20+ DK pts in 4 games
  • He scored 20+ in 4 of the first 9
  • Season high price of $5.7k (last week & WK 6)
  • Teddy at home: (15.2, 16.2, 9.0, 12.6, 25.3, 6.8, 11.8)
  • CIN allows the 15th most DK pts/g to QBs (19.4)

DEN WRs:

  • Tgts last 3 since bye: Jeudy (6,6,3) // Sutton (2,6,3) // Patrick (5,5,3)
  • Jeudy has yet to score in 7 games
  • Sutton ($4.6k) is the cheapest he’s been all season (previous low was $5.1k)
  • He hasn’t had more than 2 catches since WK 7
  • Sutton is the only DEN WR to have 100+ yds ( has done so twice, WK 5 & WK 2)
  • Patrick hasn’t had more than 4 catches since WK 5
  • CIN allows the 16th most DK pts to WRs (36.6)

DEN TEs:

  • Fant has 4 tgts in each of last 6
  • He has yet to break 100 rec yds & its been 30 games since he last did so (twice in 2019, his rookie season)
  • 2 games with 10 or more tgts but zero in last 8
  • Albert O. tgts last 6: (5,4,2,3,5,3)
  • He found the endzone last week & had a season high 15.1 DK pts
  • CIN allows the 10th most DK pts to TEs (14.3)

DEN RBs:

  • Gordon had 24 atts to Williams 15 atts last week
  • Williams has zero 20+ att games with Gordon active
  • Gordon has two 20+ att games (Williams has played every game)
  • Total TDs (Gordon has played one less game): Gordon (9) // Williams (6)
  • RZ rush atts: Gordon (37) // Williams (23)
  • Tgts: Williams (44) // Gordon (30)
  • CIN allows the most RB tgts/g (9.5), 2nd most RB rec (7.2), & 5th most RB rec yds (52) 
  • DEN ranks 11th in rush yds/g (123.1) & 3rd over their last 3 (123.1)
  • CIN allows the 4th least (93.1) & 3rd least over their last 3 (76.7)
  • DEN avgs .9 rush TDs/g // CIN allows .9
  • CIN allows 25.1 DK pts/g to RBs (11th most)