Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire
Each week, our writers will take a look at the fantasy-relevant things to watch for in every upcoming game. Today, it’s the Thursday night Week 2 matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals.
How will Joe Flacco follow up his Week 1 performance?
Joe Flacco looked ELITE last week, putting up 236 yards with three passing touchdowns, but how will he look this week? Well he’s not playing the Bills again, unfortunately, But rather a Bengals secondary that’s pretty decent, highlighted by William Jackson III. I think the secondary is going to prove difficult for Flacco, and I could see the Ravens going more run-heavy in this game, because the Bengals’ run defense is worse than their secondary. Flacco’s not gonna have the week he had last week, but I think he could be decent.
Will Flacco be able to stay upright?
Probably not a lot to be honest, and that’s my biggest worry for Flacco in this game. The Bengals have a pretty good pass rush, and the Ravens have a pretty meh offensive line. That doesn’t mix well, and with Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, and Carl Lawson coming in on the pass rush, Joe could see himself getting knocked around a bit.
What’s the running game going to look like?
Last week was weird, because Kenneth Dixon ended the game with more carries than Alex Collins. If that scared you, don’t let it, because Dixon is now hurt and has been placed on IR. Plus, that only happened because the Ravens were in garbage time totally blowing out the Bills. With no Dixon, Collins will almost certainly be given the reins again and should be reasonably successful, as the Bengals’ run defense is fine but not spectacular. Javorius Allen should also see some time as the passing-down back, with De’Lance Turner serving as the change-of-pace back. It’s worth noting that Turner looked pretty good in the preseason (as you can see):
He looks to be the direct handcuff to Collins, so if anything happens to Collins, keep your eye on Turner.
Will any of the wide receivers have fantasy relevance? And who?
Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and Willie Snead all turned in nice games last week, but that’s not going to keep happening. All three of them are talented, no doubt, and they’ve all been fantasy assets in the past, but if I had to bank on one being useful this week, it’s Crabtree simply because of his touchdown potential. Now, it’s worth noting that all three of them are drawing tough matchups this week, and I anticipate Brown’s being the most difficult against Dre Kirkpatrick. As a result, this may be the Crabtree/Snead show instead of Crabtree/Brown. But who knows, this wide receiver corps is going to be difficult to predict all year.
Will we see Lamar Jackson?
Probably for a couple weird running plays, but not any more than that unless the Ravens do last week all over against and annihilate the Bengals.
So how about that Ravens defense?
It’s impressive. I was worried about how their secondary would look with Jimmy Smith suspended, but Brandon Carr and Marlon Humphrey filled in really well. Alongside Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson at safety, this Ravens secondary should play well against Andy Dalton, who’s never been afraid to toss up a YOLO ball here and there. As for the run defense, I think that will be solid too, though Joe Mixon is a very talented back, so we’ll see.
Over/under 15 interceptions for Andy Dalton?
Yea, I think Dalton’s going to have a difficult game against a really good Ravens secondary. As a result, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Bengals go a bit more run-heavy than relying on Dalton to beat this secondary.
Will A.J. Green still have a good game?
I’ve still got him as a WR1 this week, though on the lower end of that. He’ll likely be shadowed by Brandon Carr and I think that’s someone he can beat (nothing against Carr, I just think Green’s a better receiver than Carr is a corner).
What about the other receivers?
I’m not nearly as confident in John Ross or Tyler Boyd, and as a result I’m staying as far away from them as I can this week. Ross will likely draw Marlon Humphrey and Boyd will see Tavon Young, both of whom are good corners who I think will all but shut down Ross and Boyd.
What’s the running game going to look like?
I think the Bengals will got a bit more run-heavy and really rely on Joe Mixon this game. While the Ravens run defense is good, their secondary is significantly better, and Mixon is a good runner. He especially looked good last week, and I anticipate him to play well this week. He’ll have his work cut out for him, obviously, but he should have value. I’d also expect to see some smatterings of Giovani Bernard this week as well, though probably not a whole ton.
Will the defense be able to shut down the Ravens?
I think they have that potential. The Bengals’ secondary is good, and their pass rush is good too. Whenever Joe Flacco gets nervous, he starts playing poorly, resorting more to checkdowns than deeper plays down the field. Given the Ravens’ offensive line is fairly so-so, I could see Flacco being under pressure frequently and either making mistakes or making short, inconsequential throws. Collins will be another story though, as the Bengals run defense isn’t as great and I could see them struggling to contain Collins.