Cleveland Browns(-6) Vs. Cincinnati Bengals (43.0)
Baker Mayfield had a week one to forget for the fantasy owners forced to start him in a difficult matchup. Baker ranked last in yards per attempt in the week one contest, with a lowly 4.8 yards per attempt. It was also clear that Baker wasn't comfortable in this game as he was bottom of the barrel in terms of accuracy in week one, as PFF's ball charting data gave him a 46.9% accuracy rate. Last season in the two games against this Bengals defense Baker completed 59% of his passes for 471 yards for three touchdowns. That is an ok line for a team that struggled in 2019, but what wasn't ok was the 5 interceptions he threw in these contests. We find it hard to trust Baker in this contest, especially on a short week, but this does mark the beginning of a three week stretch of favorable matchups for this Brown's passing attack. Even with that said we still only have Mayfield ranked as our QB25 for week two, as we feel this game will feature a heavy dose of the teams rushing duo of Chubb and Hunt.
The first overall pick, Joe Burrow, looked very solid in his NFL debut on his way to a top 20 finish at the position with his 16.3 fantasy points scored. Entering his first prime time game against his new interstate rivals we have Burrow ranked as a mid range QB2 (16th). We feel Burrow will be able to display his deep ball in this contest, something we didn't see much of in week one. The fact that the Browns will likely be without Greedy Williams again bodes well for Burrow, as the Browns last week allowed the highest yards per attempt (10.9) out of all defenses. This Brown unit allowed eight passing plays of over 15 yards. We also have Burrow ranked so highly this week not only because of his arm, but also his mobility, which he showed he has last week on his 46 yard touchdown run against the Chargers strong defense. He meets a defense that allowed the 5th most rushing yards to the position in week one. In addition this Brown defense also allowed the 4th most fantasy points to the position in week one. Yes, in the Browns defense that was against the reigning NFL MVP and the leagues best mobile quarterback, but Burrow should find plenty of opportunity to exploit this defense with not only his legs but his arm as well.
Last week Joe Mixon finished outside the top 30 fantasy running backs, leading many of the owners who drafted him in the first two rounds to week one losses. That's ok Joe we forgive you because we know that tonight's game is a prime opportunity for the talented back to bounce back. Historically speaking, this interstate rivalry game has been one of Mixon's best statistically. In fact, in his two meetings with the Browns last season Mixon had his best games of the year as he combined for 308 yards rushing on 49 carries and scored three times. Mixon also added 4 catches for 54 yards in those two contests. The only thing that has us slightly worried is the fact that this Cleveland unit finished week one as PFF's top graded (80.2) run- defense.
Like Mixon, Nick Chubb completely underwhelmed in week one. However, this shouldn't have come as a surprise as we warned you all week he was destined for a weak showing against a very stout Baltimore defense. Chubb finished week one with a nasty 5.6 fantasy points. We like Chubb's chances in this one much better, as he meets a defense that just allowed the Chargers running backs to total 144 yards on the ground on 31 carries, Ekeler(84) and Kelley(60). Another promising sign for Chubb's week 2 rebound is his performance against this defense at home last season. In this home game against Cleveland Chubb rushed 15 times for over 100 yards(106). This is also with Kareem Hunt in the line up for the Browns. In that game Hunt did score on the ground, but only rushed for 28 yards on 9 carries. Hunt also only caught 2 for 40 yards in that contest as well. We feel this game sets up well for a Chubb game, as this Bengals defense just held one of the leagues best pass catching backs, Austin Ekeler, to just 1 catch for 3 yards.
As you could see above we are down on Baker again in week two, but that doesn't mean we are down on his star wide out OBJ. Yes, he was a bust for fantasy owners in week one, and really ever since arriving in Cleveland, but this week may be different. OBJ will be facing a defense that he found success against at the end of last season, where he put up a 3-81-1 stat line. With Jarvis Landry battling a hip injury and no real competition from any other receiver OBJ should be in line for another big target week. Last week Baker targeted OBJ 10 times which was a nice 25.6% target share. He brings that target share into Thursday Night, where he will play against a defense that was vulnerable to perimeter wide receivers last season. This defense allowed the third most targets and ninth most catches to boundary receivers in 2019. This sets up well for OBJ tonight, who we have ranked as our 26th ranked wide receiver. If Landry is able to play, which we fully expect he will be, he should see decent volume. We have him projected for 5 receptions and over 60 yards which puts him as our WR36 for week two.
On the other side of the ball we are really liking AJ Green in this contest. Like we mentioned above with Burrow the Browns gave up 8 plays of over 15 passing yards, which bodes well for this passing attack to take advantage of. Last week AJ Green ranked towards the top of all wide receivers with 3 deep targets, trailing only Allen Robinson(5) and DeSean Jackson(4). In addition he ranked 9th in air yards with 135. Tyler Boyd was missing in action pretty much all game against the Chargers, still catching 4-33, and he did lead the team with 39 routes run which is encouraging. This week he faces a Browns unit that allowed 5 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown to Hollywood Brown and Willie Snead out of the slot last week, so we kind of like him this week. Boyd enters week two as our WR23, which is actually ahead of AJ Green.
Unlike last weeks game where we only were intrigued by one tight end in the matchup, Kelce, this week we have two tight ends who figure to be involved. The first is Bengals tight end CJ Uzomah. In his first game with Joe Burrow under center he caught 4 of his 5 targets for 45 yards. Last week we saw Mark Andrews destroy this Cleveland unit catching 5 of his 6 targets for 58 yards and two touchdowns. We like Uzomah to find similar success in this contest, and we give him a 50% chance of scoring in this contest, and a likely double digit fantasy week.
On the other side of the ball we find Austin Hooper, who disappointed last week in his Brown's debut. This was expected and we warned you that was going to happen. This week he has a much more favorable matchup. Hunter Henry just caught 5 of his 8 targets for 73 yards against this defense last week. With Landry playing banged up, and us projecting Hunt having a limited opportunity this week, that leaves the short to intermediate work for Hooper. Much like Uzomah we are giving Hooper a 50% chance of scoring in this contest.
Prediction: Cleveland Wins 20-17
How to Bet:
Cleveland Money Line (W)
Under 43 (L)
Burrow OVER 23.5 Rushing Yards (L)
Chubb OVER 69.5 Rushing Yards (W)
Uzomah OVER 21.5 Rec. Yards (W)
*Last Week Went (4-2) (66%) In Suggested Bets*