Last updated: October 8th at 5:43pm ET.
Team Totals: Ravens 29.5, Bengals 18.5
0-5 with an outright tanking play-calling disposition, the Bengals nevertheless head to Baltimore with a chance for offensive optimism. Andy Dalton has quietly turned in top-17 fantasy scores in 4-of-5 starts with top-12 results in three and now faces a Ravens defense that permitted 300-plus passing yards in three of its last four games. Baltimore ranks 27th in sacks (9), gifting enemy passers clean-enough pockets that they’re averaging the NFL’s fourth-most yards per attempt (8.5) when facing John Harbaugh’s team. FS Earl Thomas looks downright slow on game tape, and SS Tony Jefferson (ACL/MCL) is done for the year. Dalton is a high-end two-QB-league play in this plus draw. … Albeit with limited doses of DT Brandon Williams (knee), the Ravens were rocked for 64/373/6 (5.83 YPC) rushing by Chiefs, Browns, and Steelers backs in their last three games. While this matchup isn’t overly imposing, the time to sell Joe Mixon in season-long leagues remains now after he logged a season-high 109 total yards in last week’s loss to Arizona. Giovani Bernard still siphoned 40% of Cincinnati’s backfield playing time and has out-targeted Mixon 17 to 16 on the year. Stash Bernard and sell Mixon where you can.
Dalton’s Weeks 1-5 target distribution: Tyler Boyd 53; Auden Tate 24; Tyler Eifert 20; Gio 17; Mixon 16; Damion Willis 13; Alex Erickson and C.J. Uzomah 9; Drew Sample 3; Stanley Morgan 2. … Boyd is quite capable of withstanding Cincinnati’s offensive incompetence by ranking top three in the NFL in targets on a team constantly playing from behind. Boyd was the Bengals’ biggest post-John Ross beneficiary in last week’s loss to Arizona, drawing a season-high 14 targets. Boyd runs 66% of his routes in the slot, where fellow interior WRs Jarvis Landry (8/167/0), Christian Kirk (6/114/0), Larry Fitzgerald (5/104/0), and JuJu Smith-Schuster (7/75/1) scored big against Baltimore in the last four weeks. … Tate saved his Week 5 box score with a two-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter but played 100% of Cincinnati’s offensive snaps against Arizona and should see no Week 6 playing-time reduction. I’m approaching Tate as a touchdown-or-bust WR4/flex option in a game where Ravens top CB Marlon Humphrey may chase Boyd into the slot, which would enhance Tate’s matchup. … Despite Arizona’s inability to cover tight ends, first-year Bengals coach Zac Taylor showed his nonexistent commitment to Eifert by playing him on 27% of Week 5’s offensive snaps and using Eifert on pass routes on just 14 of Dalton’s 39 dropbacks.
Back home after his first-career three-pick game, Lamar Jackson catches the cupcakiest of bounce-back spots against the Bengals, who permitted QB6 (Jimmy Garoppolo), QB16 (Josh Allen), QB13 (Mason Rudolph), and QB6 (Kyler Murray) results in their last four games while allowing the NFL’s second-most QB rushing yards (152) and showing no ability to generate pressure with the league’s fourth-fewest sacks (6) and QB hits (20). For those willing to fade recency bias, Jackson should be a popular Week 6 DFS play. … Mark Ingram’s outlook is similarly favorable with 16-plus touches in three of his last four games facing a Cincinnati defense enemy backs have shredded for 125/636/6 (5.09 YPC) rushing and a league-high 373 receiving yards. … With touch counts of 9 > 7 > 6 in Baltimore’s last three games, Gus Edwards is Ingram’s handcuff with flex viability in deeper leagues. Edwards’ Week 6 usability is enhanced by this matchup; teams facing the Bengals are averaging a league-high 33.2 rushing attempts per game, which should allow Edwards to approach double-digit touches in positive script.
Jackson’s Weeks 1-5 target distribution: Marquise Brown 34; Mark Andrews 32; Nick Boyle 12; Willie Snead and Hayden Hurst 11; Miles Boykin and Seth Roberts 8; Ingram and Justice Hill 7; Edwards 3. … Brown tweaked an ankle in last Sunday’s win over Pittsburgh, setting five-week lows in snaps (46%) and routes run (25) and now has just 93 yards on 21 targets in the Ravens’ last three games. The good news is Cincy has allowed at- or above-expectation production to fellow WRs D.K. Metcalf (4/89/0), Deebo Samuel (5/86/1), Diontae Johnson (6/77/1), Marquise Goodwin (3/77/1), Larry Fitzgerald (6/58/0), and Cole Beasley (8/48/0). Coach John Harbaugh confirmed early this week that Brown’s availability is in no doubt, and Brown is promisingly popping in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Buy Low Air Yards Model. … Teams targeting tight ends against the Bengals are 14-of-19 passing (73.7%) for 214 yards (11.3 YPA) and a touchdown this year. Even as Andrews’ foot injury has devolved into an on-field concern, his Week 5 playing time (52%) was right on par with Andrews’ season averages, and his 30 pass routes run were Andrews’ second most of the year. Especially since he’s the only tight end popping in this week’s Buy Low Air Yards Model, I’m riding with Andrews as a boom-bust TE1 play against Cincinnati.
Score Prediction: Ravens 30, Bengals 23