XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 8 comes to a close with the Bengals visiting the Browns for a 45 total game with our Cincy friends favored by a field goal. These two teams are heading in different directions, as Cleveland opened the season 2-1 before dropping four straight though four of their five losses have been by three points or less (they are generally “in” games), while the Bengals started the season with an embarrassing loss to the Steelers and then lost to Dallas to go 0-2, but have gone 4-1 since and their offense appears to have rediscovered their pass-happy ways of the end of last season . . . except now Ja’Marr Chase has been lost to injury for several weeks, so we’ll see how that changes things for them.
On the Bengals side, Joe Mixon has one of the most secure roles of any running back in the NFL, playing 66% or more of the snaps in every game (and over 70% in every game but one). The problem for Mixon has been efficiency, as he’s run for just 3.3 yards per carry this year and has scored just three total touchdowns. Yikes. The role is great, the matchup is great, the workload is great, and he’s had 3+ receptions in every game (which could increase further with no Chase). He just needs to get into the end zone and perhaps at least threaten the 100-yard rushing bonus. Maybe this is the game for it against a Cleveland team that is 28th in defensive DVOA. Behind Mixon, Samaje Perine will mix in, but his price likely means he will need either a touchdown or a Mixon injury to have a shot at being optimal.
Ownership updates automatically
In the passing game, it now looks like Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Mike Thomas will be the primary wideouts for the Bengals. The news about Chase didn’t come out until after prices were set for this one, and so Higgins is just $8,000, Boyd is a somewhat fairer $6,400, and Mike Thomas is a ludicrous $1,200. Thomas played 69% and 70% of the snaps in the two games this year in which Higgins left early so we should expect at least that here. All are underpriced and will be extremely popular. Boyd is the least underpriced and so his ownership might be somewhat kept in check, but Higgins and Thomas are both going to be massive chalk (I’d expect north of 50% for Higgins, at least 40% for Thomas, though that’s just off the top of my head; check back Monday morning for ownership projections!). The matchup scares nobody, so you’re basically just playing with game theory here. Any of these guys could hit, the prices are favorable, but they’re all going to be highly owned. We’ll also see one or both of Trent Taylor and Stanley Morgan Jr. mix in for a handful of receiver snaps. At tight end, Hayden Hurst will get the most run and Mitchell Wilcox will back him up. Wilcox is a blocker with five targets on the season, and while he can certainly be played, it’s only as an MME punt option. Hurst, though, is much more attractive, with four games of 7+ targets and now missing Chase. Boyd is a stronger option at a very close price point but Hurst is also eminently viable (less yardage than Boyd, probably, but also a solid red zone role).