Coming off a statement win against the once undefeated Patriots; the Ravens now turn their focus to the Cincinnati Bengals and hope to avoid the dreaded “trap game.” These two teams last met in Week 6 resulting in a 23-17 Ravens victory on a record setting day for Lamar Jackson.
Familiar foe Andy Dalton has recently been benched in favor of the rookie Ryan Finley out of North Carolina State and will be going against a defense that has ranked in the top ten since Week 5. Below is a breakdown of all the viable fantasy football options in this AFC North showdown.
The last time the Ravens played the Bengals, Jackson became the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to pass for 200-plus yards and rush for more than 150-plus yards. Now, coming off his toughest test of the season against the Patriots top-ranked defense, Jackson will look to avoid a trap game scenario against the winless Bengals. Jackson has been running the ball at a historical rate and is firmly in-line to shatter the single season quarterback rushing record set by Michael Vick in 2006.
Once thought to be figured out, Jackson has become virtually unstoppable with his improved passing to go along with his historic rushing prowess. There are not many teams who are worse equipped to handle Jackson than the Bengals, they figure to be in for a long game. As was the case in the previous match up, the Ravens should be able to control the game on the ground, pounding the rock and dominating time of possession. The Bengals remain a mess on defense, allowing over 16 fantasy points per game to the quarterback position despite no team attempting more than 33 passes against them in any week.
While this doesn’t shape up to be a huge game through the air, we’ve seen in the past that this won’t affect his fantasy upside. With the return of Marquise Brown, who missed the last matchup between the two teams, the chances of some big plays through the air increases dramatically. Fire up Jackson as an elite QB1 for Week 10.
Roman absolutely gashed the #Bengals twice on the opening drive with this play - pistol look with an option(?) to keep, and Snead and Boyle coming across the formation to block in front of Lamar. He does the rest. pic.twitter.com/CkUA6LcK4b— Baltimore Beatdown Podcast (@PodcastBeatdown) November 7, 2019
Taking over for a winless team against a Ravens defense that historically feasts on rookie quarterbacks is a less than ideal situation for Finley to make his professional debut. Now healthy, the Ravens defense was all over the field in Week 9 against the Patriots and have been lights out since Cleveland delivered a beatdown in Week 4. The Ravens have now gone four straight games where they’ve held the opposing quarterback to less than seven yards per attempt.
In that time, they have only allowed a total of three passing touchdowns despite going against quarterbacks such as Russell Wilson and Tom Brady. The addition of Marcus Peters and the return of Jimmy Smith has turned a weakness on the team into one of the top positional strengths in all the NFL. There are not many quarterbacks as useless in fantasy as Finley will be in this terrible debut match up.
Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards
Although he may not see the attempts that warrant the “workhorse” tag, Ingram has been the tone-setter for the No. 1 scoring offense in the league. He has been extremely efficient in his touches and is tied to the best running quarterback the league has ever seen, so running lanes will continue to be plentiful. Ingram ran through the number one ranked Patriots defense all game, totaling 115 yards on just 15 attempts with a staggering 7.7 yards per carry. The way the Ravens have spread out touches throughout the season has held him back from the RB1 designation on a weekly basis, but the upside is there on any given game.
In the last meeting against the Bengals, they held Ingram to just 52 yards on 13 carries, but Jackson made them pay by shredding them himself with 152 yards on the ground. This is type of “pick your poison” problems the Ravens put on opposing defenses. After they were embarrassed by Jackson the first time around, expect them to adjust which should open big opportunities for Ingram. A weekly RB2, Ingram possess the upside of a RB1 in Week 10 and should be in lineups as such.
Once the Ravens are done clubbing you with Jackson and Ingram, they send in a sledgehammer in the form of Gus Edwards to finish the job. The physicality of the Ravens running game is a big reason for their top-ranked offense and they don’t even bother to change up the pace on you. Edwards has looked phenomenal this season, but only gets in very limited work. Just as was the same in 2018, Edwards enters the second half of the season with fresh legs and the physicality that you need in December and January. I expect his workload to only increase from here on out, he can now be considered as a low-end flex with his arrow pointing up.
The last time Mixon attempted to run against the Ravens defense, he was held to a measly 10 yards on eight carries. He was consistently stuffed at the line of scrimmage averaging just 1.2 yards per carry and the Bengals didn’t even attempt to force the issue. Now with a rookie quarterback under center, the Ravens will key in on Mixon and the run game to ensure Finley needs to beat them with his arm. The Ravens defense has only allowed one running back to top 65 yards on them, and that’s when they were without Brandon Williams.
Mixon does hold some value in the passing game as Finley is expected to check down often, but even then, his upside is limited due to Giovani Bernard’s role as the primary passing down back. Yet to reach 100 yards in any game this season, Mixon has been a colossal fantasy bust playing behind the worst offensive line on the one of the worst offenses in all of football. He is a must-sit in a terrible match up, unless you are desperate at the position with a lot of running backs on their bye week.
The only fantasy viable receiver on the team, “Hollywood” was welcomed back to the starting lineup with open arms. He made an immediate impact in the game but was also clearly a bit hampered by the ankle that’s been giving him issues since Week 5. The Ravens will continue to limit his weekly participation in practice to ensure he is ready to go on Sunday’s, but his health will be closely monitored weekly. Nonetheless, when he is on the field his impact is felt in a big way highlighting his tantalizing speed and playmaking ability.
The current state of the Bengals rivals only that of the Dolphins team the Ravens saw in Week 1. This game has the potential for a similar game script and the possibility of Brown and Jackson having their way couldn’t be higher. Although Brown has not reached 50 receiving yards in a game since Week 2, his big-play potential is enough to keep him in fantasy lineups heading into a juicy match up against the Bengals. Fire him up as a WR3 in Week 10, but keep in mind that his play style does come with a lower floor albeit a huge ceiling. A true boom-or-bust fantasy option.
Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate
A.J. Green was ruled out of this Week 10 matchup on Thursday and both Boyd and Tate will resume the roles they’ve been in for most of the season. The last time we touched on this match up, I anticipated Boyd as being the best fantasy option, but it was quite the opposite. Marlon Humphrey was stuck to Boyd all afternoon, leading to a stat line of only 10 yards on three catches. Humphrey has emerged as one of the top-flight corners in the league and will likely limit Boyd again in the same role. Still, based on his 10.3 target per game, Boyd does hold some value based on volume alone despite the horrible matchup. He will be a desperation FLEX option with limited upside and a very low floor going against the Ravens shutdown secondary.
Auden Tate has benefitted from the Green injury and has shown flashes of being a starting caliber receiver in the league. Since becoming a starter, Tate hasn’t posted less than nine fantasy points in any match up and has been getting a ridiculous number of targets. The last time he played the Ravens, he made some highlight-reel catches on his way to 91 yards on just 5 catches, seeing a team-high 11 targets. All of this points to him being a must start, right? Not so fast. The Ravens have recently welcomed back Jimmy Smith in addition to the mid-season acquisition of Marcus Peters, who will both be tasked with limiting Tate. This will be a much tougher matchup than what he saw in the first meeting, coupled with the quarterback change, giving this the looks of a disappointing fantasy day. It’s tough to trust any receiver linked to Finley who is completely unknown at this point. Just like Boyd, Tate should be avoided in fantasy lineups this week.
Looking at the last few weeks of production for Andrews is a bit worrisome as he has been held below 40 yards the last two games while also being held out of the endzone. Looking at his snap count in Week 9, he finished below both Boyle and Hurst in playing time and only saw three targets on the night. There is reason for concern, but at the end of the day, that was the only game of the season where he saw less than seven targets. The Patriots game was always going to be a slugfest and blocking specialist Nick Boyle was more needed in the running game than Hurst or Andrews. It’s no secret the Ravens love all three of their tight ends and will utilize them accordingly, but Andrews has consistently been Jackson’s favorite target and I don’t foresee that changing. The last time they met the Bengals, Andrews posted 99 yards on eight targets and I don’t see any reason to shy away from him here. He is a mid-tier TE1 and a safe play in all fantasy lineups.
Eifert is coming off his best performance of the season, posting six catches for 74 yards against the Rams in Week 8. Unfortunately for him and the Bengals that is by far the best production he’s seen all season as he hasn’t topped 27 yards in any other game. The last time he faced the Ravens, they held him to just two catches for 13 yards. With the Ravens defense only trending up, Eifert is tough to trust in any format this week. Add on the fact that he is now attached to a rookie quarterback playing in his first game, the whole Bengals offense is bound to struggle. Rookie quarterbacks do tend to lean on tight ends as safety valves, so there is a chance he could surprise with a good target share. Nonetheless, Eifert is a player to avoid in Week 10.