Last updated: December 4th at 8:55am ET
Team Totals: Browns 25, Bengals 16
Fresh off injecting a modicum of life into Cincinnati’s left-for-dead offense in last week’s upset of the Jets, Andy Dalton catches a tougher foe on the road against the Browns, who’ve held 7 of their last 11 quarterbacks faced to fantasy scores of QB16 or worse. Cincy-Cleveland is Week 14’s lowest-totaled affair, while the Bengals as a team have scored 23 points or fewer in all 12 games. Dalton is a two-QB-league starter only in this probable weather-affected slogfest. … The Bengals finally promoted Joe Mixon to Week 13 every-down duties; Mixon set or equaled season highs in snap rate (80%), routes run (22), and catches (4) after working in a near-even committee with Giovani Bernard for most of the year prior. With 100-plus total yards and/or a touchdown in five of his last six games and now seeing enhanced usage, Mixon has finally graduated into RB1 territory at the backend of a disappointing year. The Browns remain without three-down difference maker Myles Garrett (suspension), while bookend Oliver Vernon aggravated his knee injury in last week’s loss to the Steelers. Mixon faces a shorthanded Cleveland front that was already generously surrendering 4.58 yards per carry to opposing backs.
Dalton’s 2019 target distribution: Tyler Boyd 92; Auden Tate 61; Alex Erickson 38; Tyler Eifert 36; John Ross 32; Mixon 29; Gio 27; C.J. Uzomah 20; Damion Willis 15; Stanley Morgan 5. … A confident WR2 again, slot man Boyd is averaging 10.2 targets in Dalton’s nine 2019 starts and catches the softest Week 14 draw in Cincy’s pass-catcher corps. Browns slot CB T.J. Carrie has been dusted for 37 completions on 51 targets (73%), 459 yards (9.0 YPA), and four touchdowns this season. … Cleveland’s coverage is much stouter outside – perimeter CBs Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams have combined to allow just two TDs on 80 combined targets – but Tate remains WR4 playable with 50-plus yards and/or a touchdown in seven straight Dalton starts. Tate is also popping toward the end of Josh Hermsmeyer’s Week 14 Buy Low Air Yards Model. … Ross (collarbone) is tentatively due back for this difficult draw. I added him last week in several season-long leagues and intend to place Ross in wait-and-see mode to gauge Ross’ usage in his first game back from a ten-week injury. With New England next on the schedule, I’m targeting Week 16 versus the Dolphins to potentially deploy Ross as an upside WR3/flex. … Erickson (26 routes), Morgan (14), and Willis (8) rounded out Cincinnati’s sub-package receiver corps in last week’s win over the Jets. They’ll all get pushed down by Ross. … Uzomah ran 23 routes to Eifert’s 16 in Week 13, and Uzomah delivered his first game above 26 yards since Week 1. Neither is a viable streamer.
The Bengals deserve recognition for stout defensive performances in three straight weeks – they held the Raiders to 17 points, Steelers to 16, and Jets to 6 – which should create at least some pause about Baker Mayfield’s matchup. Oakland has since been outed as fraudulent, however, Pittsburgh was quarterbacked by since-benched Mason Rudolph at the time, and Gang Green’s offensive line is among the worst in football. This is likelier than not to amount to a rebound spot for a previously-hot Browns team returning home after a road loss. Mayfield belongs firmly on DFS-tournament radars. … Even during its three-week defensive improvement, Cincinnati has remained fairly vulnerable to the run, yielding a combined 73/318/0 (4.36 YPC) rushing line to Raiders, Steelers, and Jets backs. As a nine-point home-favorite bellcow with 17-plus touches in 12 straight games, Nick Chubb is arguably the single-best rebound bet on the Browns. … Against Pittsburgh, Kareem Hunt logged double-digit touches for the fourth time in four Browns appearances while setting year highs in snaps (67%) and routes run (29). Averaging 6.3 targets per game, Hunt merits every-week RB2 treatment in Cleveland’s two-back attack.
Mayfield’s Weeks 10-13 target distribution: Jarvis Landry 41; Odell Beckham 36; Hunt 25; Chubb 11; Demetrius Harris 8; Rashard Higgins 5; KhaDarel Hodge and Stephen Carlson 3; Ricky Seals-Jones 1. … One of fantasy’s most consistent 2019 scorers, Landry draws the Bengals with 60-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 10-of-12 games and double-digit targets in five of his last six. He’s a matchup-agnostic WR2 as Mayfield’s most reliable pass catcher. … In Robby Anderson (7/101/0), James Washington (3/98/1), and Tyrell Williams (4/82/0) consecutively, perimeter wideouts have continued to deliver useful results against the Bengals amid their small-sample defensive surge. Only four teams have coughed up more 20-plus-yard completions than Cincinnati (51). This all bodes well for Beckham, who ranks top five in the NFL in Air Yards over the past month (498) and remains worthy of strong DFS-tournament consideration despite his season-long inefficiency. … David Njoku’s (wrist, I.R.) remains in week-to-week limbo. Harris, Carlson, and Seals-Jones have unproductively shared time in his place.
Score Prediction: Browns 24, Bengals 17