Between all of the injuries last week and the fact that week 9 is the heaviest bye week of the season, lots of owners were put behind the eight ball this weekend. And if you weren’t before, maybe you are now, after Ben Roethlisberger, LeSean Mccoy, Dion Lewis, and Latavius Murray went down with injuries. Whatever the case may be, another week brought even more craziness. Don’t believe me? Blaine Gabbert outplayed Matt Ryan. The Titans scored 35 points. Antonio Brown had 284 yards! Eddie Lacy resorted to eating teams’ fantasy points! OK, OK, just kidding. Let’s get into all of week 9’s madness.
Bengals 31, Browns 10
Anyone still expecting Andy Dalton to revert to last year’s form should accept the fact that he is one of the top QBs this season. Against the Browns, he added 3 TDs (and zero INTs) to his season total. Much of Dalton’s success seems connected to the emergence of TE Tyler Eifert, who caught all 3 of Dalton’s TD tosses. Eifert leads the league with 9 receiving TDs, and according to Adam Schefter, Eifert’s 9 red zone TDs are the most through the first half of a season in the past 15 years. Think of Eifert like Denver Julius Thomas: the yardage is not eye-popping, but he is a TD machine, who specializes inside the 20s. Just one more interesting bit about Eifert: According to Pro Football Focus, Eifert has the highest run blocking grade of any TE – I know that isn’t rewarded in fantasy, but that only makes him harder to guard, as it isn’t always clear when he’ll get the ball, compared to a TE to only comes in for passing plays.
Unfortunately for the rest of the offense, Eifert’s large share of the red zone pie eats into everyone else’s production. Most noticeably, A.J. Green has struggled to find any consistency. He finished the game with 53 yards, and through 8 games, and he now only has two games over 100 yards. It was actually Marvin Jones who led the Bengals in receiving yards with 78 yards, while third WR Mohamed Sanu scored off a 25 yard reverse. Despite not producing noteworthy numbers, it’s worth keeping tabs on Jeremy Hill, who has at least 15 rushes in three straight games now. The Bengals are not giving up on Hill. They have not abandoned Hill, and he could be a sneaky guy to target before the trade deadline. Meanwhile, backfield counterpart Gio Bernard contributed 84 total yards. This is a loaded offense, and the diffusion of productivity can be frustrating at times, but it’s a good idea to have Bengals shares heading into the fantasy playoffs.
I wish there was as much to say about the Browns as there is for the Bengals. But really, there are only a few guys worth highlighting. Travis Benjamin had a tremendous first third of the season, but his regression is well in motion. For three consecutive weeks now, he has failed to tally 50 yards. Star TE Gary Barnidge also had a disappointing week with just 35 yards to account for, and both Barnidge’s and Benjamin’s low totals are at least partly attributable to Johnny Manziel playing, as Josh McCown sat with a rib injury. Manziel looked good on the Browns lone scoring drive, right before halftime, but he finished the game having completed less than half of his passes. The Browns ground game is completely nonexistent, as I’m sure Isaiah Crowell are well aware by now. But, RB Duke Johnson is intriguing in PPR leagues. The only RBs with more receptions than Johnson are Theo Riddick, Devonta Freeman, and Danny Woodhead. In leagues rewarding receptions, Johnson is a good starter. Continue reading