Kickoff: Sunday, November 22nd, 1:00 PM ET
Location: FedEx Field, Landover, MD
Betting Odds: CIN +1.5, 46.5 total via Oddsshark
Joe Burrow (Start, QB2)
It was a baptism of fire for Joe Burrow last week against the Steelers’ phenomenal defense. The advanced coverage packages thrown at the rookie had him in all sorts of trouble and he often failed to progress out of his first read. The Bengals went 0-13 on 3rd down, yikes! The No.1 overall pick was held under 250 yards passing for the second straight game, and in Week 11, he gets polarizing Washington secondary that allows 214 receiving yards per game, the 2nd-best total in the league. However, they did gove up 30 points to the Lions last week. As good as Burrow has been this year, if you have a safer option this week then we recommend you explore that before starting Burrow, who has low-QB2 status.
Gio Bernard (Start, RB2), Samaje Perine (Sit), Trayveon Williams (Sit), Joe Mixon (Injured, doubtful)
Joe Mixon has missed the last four weeks with a foot injury and has yet to log a practice of note this week so far. Assuming he is out, Gio Bernard will continue to lead the backfield. The veteran posted two 20+ fantasy point games before the team’s bye but met a near-impenetrable Steelers defensive line last week, carrying 8 times for just 30 yards with 4 receptions for a miserly 16 yards. He has RB2 upside against a Washington run defense that is middle of the pack at best. Samaje Perine and second-year back Trayveon Williams took 12 carries away from Bernard, and they could again eat into his workload as Zac Taylor assess his squad going forward. Bernard did see 7 targets in the passing game compared to Perine’s 1 and zero for Williams.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Tee Higgins (Start, WR1), Tyler Boyd (Start, FLEX), A.J. Green (Sit), Drew Sample (Sit)
Tee Higgins is quickly emerging as the go-to receiver in this offense, surpassing Tyler Boyd as the receiver to be rostered in Cincinnati. Higgins posted his 2nd 100-yard effort in his last 4 games and looked strong in contested catches while also scoring a touchdown. Burrow will likely have more time to throw this week and Higgins will be 1st on the list for targets. In comparison, Boyd registered his 2nd lowest yardage total of the season, though he has caught at least 6 passes in 6 of his 9 games including each of the last 3, which makes him a safe start in your FLEX spot. A.J. Green failed to catch any of the 5 passes thrown his way and has completely disappeared off the fantasy radar. Drew Sample has just 20 catches for 183 yards and zero TDs through 9 games. Time to look elsewhere.
Washington Football Team
Alex Smith (Start, QB2)
We saw shades of the Alex Smith of old in Washington’s heartbreaking defeat to the Lions. Smith threw for 390 yards and peppered his running backs (20 targets) in the short passing game. It would have been a decent fantasy day had he found any of his receivers in the endzone in the first half, however, Washington missed a field goal and lost a fumble deep in Detroit territory. We know the gameplan and Smith is going to rely on his check-downs more and more. Both Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic are nifty, explosive backs and should give Smith plenty of yards after the catch. He has a solid QB2 upside against this middling Bengals defense.
Antonio Gibson (Start, RB1), J.D. McKissic (Start, FLEX)
It is the time of opportunity in Washington for these running backs as the short passing game is here to stay with Smith under center. Antonio Gibson enters Week 11 as a Top 10 fantasy RB and has 4 rushing TDs in his last 3 games. Cincinnati’s weak front is allowing 133 yards per game on the ground, which is a derisory 27th in the league. Gibson is a safe bet to see both carries and targets for the rest of the year. J.D. McKissic was targeted a whopping 15 times in the passing game last week. He only caught 7 of those for 43 yards but he did add a rushing score also. He is phenomenal value in PPR leagues at just 69% rostered in Yahoo! leagues.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Terry McLaurin (Start, WR1), Steven Sims (Sit), Cam Sims (Sit), Isaiah Wright (Sit), Logan Thomas (Start, TE2)
“Scary” Terry McLaurin is one of the most versatile, exciting receivers to watch in the NFL. He also has 86 targets in 9 games and is the sure-fire No.1 receiver in Washington. The Bengals have given up the 8th most fantasy points to WRs this season so McLaurin is a good bet for WR1 numbers once again. We would like to see him build on his 3 TDs after posting 7 TDs in just 14 starts last season. It is a bit of wasteland behind McLaurin with a handful of guys sharing inconsistent production over the season. None are worth mentioning here.
It seems like Logan Thomas never leaves the field and that is only a good thing for a streaming TE option. Thomas had his 4th double-digit fantasy performance of the season against the Lions and now faces a Bengals unit that has given up the 2nd most fantasy points to TEs this season.
-Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)