Thursday Night Battle for Ohio

September 17, 2020

I thoroughly enjoyed watching last week’s game between the Chiefs and the Texans, except for the part where the Chiefs kept running the ball.

After two seasons of a high-flying, chuck the ball up there offense, watching a 19 play drive, well, it wanted me to go to sleep.

But, I endured.

I am convinced that this week’s game is on Thursday Night for one reason, so people will watch.

The Browns got boat raced by Lamar Jackson and the Ravens on Sunday and they looked terrible doing it.

They scored one time and that guy won’t be on the active roster come tonight’s game, David Njoku.

As for the Bengals, Joe Burrow looks like he’s a dude! He made some silly, rookie mistakes, but otherwise was fun to watch, especially running the two-minute drill.

He threw a game-winning touchdown, just for AJ Green to get called for OPI. But, had them in position to kick a game-tying field goal, before Randy Bullock botched it.

Speaking of botched, Cody Parkey will be kicking for the Browns tonight.

Let’s take a peek at what we are looking at in terms of fantasy.

The Quarterbacks

Burrow only threw for 193 yards and a stupid interception against the Chargers with his only score coming on a scramble.

But, when the leash was taken off in winning time, Burrow looked like a stud. In the final four minutes of the game, Burrow was 8-for-11 with 70 yards.

That is big time for a rookie in his first exposure to an NFL defense.

Burrow is my number 16 quarterback this week against the No. 26-ranked Browns passing defense.

Baker Mayfield was supposed to be the savior on the lake, they brought in Kareem Hunt, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry to help him succeed, but he didn’t. They bolstered a pretty bad offensive line to help him succeed, at least in Week 1, but he didn’t.

Baker completed 54 percent of his passes against the Ravens, finding David Njoku for a touchdown, but also finding the defense on a ball. Mayfield isn’t in my Top 20 quarterbacks this week and will remain that way until he starts playing with the success and swagger he showed after coming in for Tyrod Taylor in his rookie season.

The Runners

The Browns played the entire game in a negative game script, trailing 10-0 before scoring their first touchdown and it was all over from there, falling 38-7 to the Ravens last week.

That didn’t bode well for Nick Chubb, who was out-touched by Kareem Hunt 17-11. Chubb, who was going in the first two rounds in most leagues, carried the ball 10 times for 60 yards and caught one pass for 6 yards on 1 target. Hunt on the other side was 13-for-72 and 4-for-9 on 6 targets.

Hunt played just one more snap than Chubb, but it looked like Kevin Stefanski was eager to get Hunt involved in the negative game script. This game should be much closer, which bodes well for Chubb, who you wouldn’t sit anyway.

As a Chubb owner, I would hope he out-touches and out-snaps Hunt this week as the Browns figure it out on offense. I have Chubb ranked 16th this week and Hunt 21st.

Joe Mixon wasn’t great in Week 1 either, toting the ball 19 times for 69 yards and failing to reach the endzone. He has fared well in his career against the Browns with over five yards a carry in six career meetings. The trouble has been reaching the endzone, where he has hit paydirt just four times in those meetings.

I would expect Mixon to do more playing over 50% of the snaps tonight, hopefully for Mixon owners, hitting paydirt. Mixon is my number 14 running back this week.

The Pass Catchers

What a category. Last week on the show, I talked about how much I liked Jarvis Landry and how Odell Beckham Jr. would do a better job not being a diva in Cleveland. Boy, was I wrong.

What I really forgot, Baker Mayfield just might not be very good in any system. OBJ might not want to play with or for anyone and he might be living off of one catch the rest of his career.

Odell was targeted a team-high 10 times and turned in just three catches for 22 yards. Landry caught 5 of his 6 targets for 61 yards. OBJ is WR22 this week for me, but that is hoping he finds a way into the endzone. If I was an OBJ owner, I would really hope Baker finds a way to figure it out. As for Landry, he is a volume-based flex option at best.

AJ Green looked healthy, ready to go and was fun to watch on Sunday, something that hasn’t been the case in what seems like forever.

Green saw nine targets from Burrow and played 66.2% of the snaps against the Chargers, catching a touchdown that was called back. I have AJG as WR21 this week. If he sees 25% of the targets all season, I feel good about him as my WR2 all year.

Boyd was the clear number two option in the passing game, but will need Burrow to air it out more to be a trustworthy start going forward. Drag routes are not friendly to fantasy owners.

John Ross is back off the fantasy radar at this point. He is touchdown dependent and won’t be startable unless Green or Boyd gets injured and misses time.