Kickoff Sunday, Oct 6th 1:00pm Eastern

Cards (
21.75) at

Bengals (

Over/Under 46.5


Key Matchups
Cardinals Run D
31st DVOA/29th Yards allowed per carry
Bengals Run O
22nd DVOA/27th Yards per carry
Cardinals Pass D
31st DVOA/21st Yards allowed per pass
Bengals Pass O
14th DVOA/26th Yards per pass
Bengals Run D
28th DVOA/31st Yards allowed per carry
Cardinals Run O
8th DVOA/2nd Yards per carry
Bengals Pass D
21st DVOA/32nd Yards allowed per pass
Cardinals Pass O
25th DVOA/29th Yards per pass

:: Seriously. Grow bankroll! Hammer the edge on FantasyDraft.

The Arizona Cardinals are on pace for a solid 44 sacks this year…and they have zero interceptions. This tells you most of what you need to know about this defense — which this week will be traveling to take on a Bengals team that has so far played at Seattle, at home vs a very tough 49ers defense, in an impossible spot at Buffalo, and at a “common opponent” Steelers defense that still boasts one of the best pass rushes in football.

While the Cardinals will be able to get pressure on Andy Dalton, they won’t be able to get pressure the way Pittsburgh could — and there will be plenty of opportunities for Dalton to find holes in the Cardinals’ zone coverage.

With John Ross out of action, this matchup points most heavily toward Tyler Boyd and Tyler Eifert. Although you are obviously still left banking on a touchdown for major upside, Boyd meshes nicely with this matchup against a zone-heavy defense that has sprung downfield leaks all season — boosting aDOT by 21.5% compared to the league average. (There are two types of major-aDOT boosters: teams like the Patriots and Lions that play tight man coverage and invite downfield throws but allow a low catch rate; and teams like the Giants and Cardinals, who allow downfield throws because of bad coverage, with the Cardinals incredibly allowing a catch-rate boost of 4.2% against the league average in spite of all the downfield throws.)

We also know about the Cardinals struggles against tight ends — a function of scheme and talent that teams are going out of their way to attack each week. The main label we have pasted on the Bengals coaching staff so far this year is “adaptable,” and it makes sense to expect this group to design a handful of plays to tight ends this week. The Bengals don’t mind involving C.J. Uzomah and even Drew Sample on a few looks, but after Eifert has seen exactly five targets in three of his four games so far, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him break north of that mark this week.

There is also likely to be plenty of talk this week about Auden Tate — and given that this game pairs two teams that rank second (Cincinnati) and third (Arizona) in passing play percentage (and given that this is largely by design for both teams), this attention is warranted. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but Tate has 10 and six targets and is nearly minimum-priced on all three sites, in a great matchup. He also has a red zone body at 6’5″. He’ll be chalky this week, especially with so little value available on the slate; but he’ll be chalky for a reason.

If we take away Christian McCaffrey’s 76-yarder against the Cardinals, this team is allowing only 3.59 yards per carry to running backs as they focus on stopping the run. The only way to hit this run defense has been up the middle (an incredible 72.2% of runs against Arizona have come up the middle, as each team is seeing the same thing on film and attacking it — not producing at an elite level, but at least producing serviceably), but the Bengals’ zone run offense isn’t designed to run up the gut, and they have been poor this year when trying. With the Bengals offensive line struggling as a whole, this is not a great spot for Joe Mixon, who should be left for tournaments as a “bet on pass game involvement or a touchdown” piece.

Obnoxiously, 63.8% of runs for David Johnson have come up the gut (which we could have told Kliff Kingsbury, if he had bothered to ask, is the wrong way to use DJ), and this is where Cincy has been stout this year (while getting absolutely destroyed by running backs everywhere else). While we could dig into hypotheticals about the Cardinals increasing DJ’s edge usage in this matchup, the truth is that the main reason to roster DJ is for his aerial production anyway, as he has only one game with more than 11 carries, and his offensive line is not good. His receptions are locked in, however, and the Bengals have allowed the second most running back receptions (against the fourth fewest tight end receptions and the third fewest wide receiver receptions; I’m not reading much into the TE/WR numbers, as Cincy has faced the fewest pass attempts in the league after games vs four run-heavy opponents; but the fact that Cincy has faced the second fewest pass attempts in the league and allowed the second most running back receptions really pops off the page).

DJ’s elevated target projection is further locked in by the expected absence of Christian Kirk, as this team has focused the majority of its action on Kirk // Larry Fitzgerald // DJ, and last week when Damiere Byrd missed, they showed little inclination to stretch the targets too far beyond these three. Trent Sherfield and KeeSean Johnson will see looks (and Andy Isabella will be on the field as well), but the schemed usage will be dominated by Fitz and DJ.

Fitz is a bit tougher to settle down with, as his price has risen from its early-season value levels and the Bengals have shown an ability so far this year (explored pretty much every week in this space) to adaptably make life difficult on at least one pass game weapon. It is worth noting that in Weeks 1 and 2 (vs the man-heavy Lions and man-heavy Ravens), the Cardinals attacked relentlessly downfield. In Weeks 3 and 4 vs zone-dominant teams in the Panthers and Seahawks that focus on keeping the ball in front of them, everything from the Cardinals was depressingly short. The Bengals have been attacked relentlessly downfield by wide receivers, with Tyler Lockett // DK Metcalf // Marquise Goodwin // Deebo Samuel // John Brown // Diontae Johnson combining for nine receptions of 20+ yards (with most of these coming on passes that traveled 20+ yards through the air). With this taken into account, Fitz still boasts upside in spite of the extra attention he’ll receive from the Bengals.

JM’s Interpretation ::

Both of the quarterbacks are solid in this game, with yards sure to pile up even if each team ends up stalling near the goal line. Kyler Murray in particular has slate-winning upside each week, and this is as good a spot as any for him to hit.

Boyd is a solid option, with the Cardinals ill-equipped to slow him down over the middle of the field. He’ll need some things to break his way for upside, but a dud is unlikely.

Tate and Eifert are solid at their prices on DK and FDraft, while Tate is appealing on FanDuel as well. Expect Tate to be ultra popular (with Eifert potentially joining him), and realize that pass catchers are, by nature, more volatile than running backs (where value plays like this are always safer). This creates cases for strategic tourney fades, but both guys (Tate in particular, but Eifert on DK/FDraft for the price) deserve whatever attention they receive this week.

Fitz is appealing as a decent floor bet with sneaky-strong ceiling. He’s not rock-solid, but he’s in the mix.

And DJ really stands out in this game, as he’s the piece through which this up-tempo Arizona offense should flow, with his targets locked in as everything filters in his direction. He’s squarely in the mix with the other attractive, high-priced backs this week.