Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire
Each week throughout the NFL season, our staff at QB List will be watching and reviewing all the games from every week and offering up our takes on the fantasy-relevant things that happened. Here’s what we saw in Week 1.
Ravens vs. Bengals
Man oh man, if you are a Ravens fan (which I am), this was a really tough game to watch. The final score of 34-23 with the Bengals winning may not seem that, but man did the Ravens look bad. Let’s dive in.
First, we have to talk about Joe Flacco. In Week 1, Flacco looked really good—he was sharp and spreading the ball around nicely. This week, he was rough. Flacco has always been vulnerable when a good pass rush comes after him, and he was clearly shaken up by the Bengals pass rush, and when Flacco gets nervous, he makes dumb throws. Dumb throws like this one:
Or this one in triple coverage to John Brown (he’s lucky Brown caught it):
Yea, that ended up being a deep completion, but Flacco should not have thrown that ball. By all rights that should’ve been an interception. Sort of like this YOLO ball he tossed up was:
He had a pass rush bursting in on him, he got nervous, and just launched the ball. That’s not to mention the fumble he also lost (though I don’t necessarily blame him entirely for that). If you just look at the box score, you’d see 376 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions and say “hey, I’ll take that,” but watching Flacco, he was rattled. If you’re playing against the Ravens that’s how you beat them—you make Joe Flacco nervous.
Speaking of the passing game, you know who was awesome again? John Brown.
He finished the game with four catches for 92 yards and a touchdown, and now fantasy players everywhere are wondering just how relevant he might be. Here’s the thing—Brown is super talented, I don’t think that’s ever been in doubt, but he’s got a long injury history and is in an offense that’s spreading it around pretty evenly. Both Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead had five catches compared to Brown’s four. Plus, Crabtree and Brown both saw 10 targets while Snead saw eight. Brown is a boom-or-bust guy with an injury risk—he’s going to have games like these, but good luck predicting which ones they’ll be.
By the way, if you’re worried about Alex Collins, I understand. He ended the game with nine carries for 35 yards and three catches for 55 yards. Personally, I’m not worried. Week 1, Collins barely saw action because the Ravens got up big quickly and went into garbage time mode, letting Kenneth Dixon run. This game, the Ravens got down very quickly and were passing the ball a ton (Flacco threw the ball 55 times). Both of these games were oddball games that I don’t expect to be the norm, Collins will be fine. Plus, look how good he looked:
Not to mention, Dixon is out for some time and Javorius Allen is their passing-down back, so I don’t really see much competition for Collins’ carries. He’ll be alright.
The last thing I want to mention is the defense. The Ravens’ defense looked absolutely dominant in Week 1. Last week, they looked way worse, but I think part of that was fatigue. Thanks to turnovers, the Ravens defense was on the field a lot, and they looked worn down. They played some solid defense, but they just got beat by talented players (specifically, A.J. Green). I’m not all that worried about the Ravens’ defense going forward.
If, for some reason, you started Andy Dalton, you were handsomely rewarded with 265 yards and four touchdowns. Dalton himself looked fine, I didn’t see anything that made me go “wow that Andy Dalton is something else,” I think his success was more a product of a Baltimore defense that had been run ragged and a very talented receiving corps.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about A.J. Green. BREAKING NEWS: A.J. Green is absurdly talented. This is going to be like a mini-GIF breakdown here for a second, but let’s take a look at just how good A.J. Green really is.
I like this first touchdown because you see Green just flat-out beat his defender with his speed. I don’t usually think of Green as a speed receiver, but he can turn on the jets and beat a guy if need be. And by the way, that’s Tavon Young he beats there—a pretty good cornerback.
This was my favorite play of the night. Green is so big and so hard to take down and he shows that off here. He makes a great catch up high then shakes off a couple defenders and runs it in for a touchdown. That’s pretty amazing.
I’m going to finish here to say this—the Ravens didn’t necessarily play bad defense, they just got beat by one of the best receivers in the game. In this play, Green is shadowed by Brandon Carr (a pretty good corner) the entire way right from the snap. Does that faze him? Not even a little bit, he’s still able to get inside on him and make a catch. The guy is awesome.
Also, shoutout to Tyler Boyd who finished the game with six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown. He looked good, he’s a guy I’ve liked since he was in college, and it’s good to see him have a good game here. He’s someone worth paying attention to if this Bengals passing game keeps up. Considering Boyd saw nine targets and John Ross saw four (and caught only one), I think it’s safe to say Boyd has more fantasy value right now.
For the rushing game, Joe Mixon looked awesome yet again. He had excellent burst and was able to run all over a good Ravens run defense to the tune of 84 yards on 21 carries. Would’ve been nice (for fantasy purposes) for him to get a touchdown but you take what you get. Unfortunately, he hurt his knee in this game and is slated to miss a couple weeks of action.
And a quick note on the defense—the Bengals pass rush looked good. Now, was it a bad Ravens offensive line or a good Bengals pass rush? I’m inclined to go with the latter. I don’t think the Ravens necessarily have a great offensive line, but it’s not terrible, and I think the Bengals pass rush just overpowered them. If they can keep that up, they could be an interesting defensive play against some bad offensive lines.