NFL Week 4 – Thursday Night Football Analysis

Hey Everyone!

bathrobeDFS here with your TNF Showdown breakdown. I will work through every game, analyzing any and all relevant data I can muster with regards to how they will perform in a DFS capacity.


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OFFENSIVE INJURIES TO MONITOR

JAX – No One

CIN – Tee Higgins (WR) – QUESTIONABLE


Jacksonville Jags (0-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)

Kickoff is Thursday, 820pm EST.

Vegas Lines

Open – 45.5 – CIN 26 – JAX 19.5
Tuesday –
Wednesday –
Thursday –
Friday –
Saturday –

The Story

Like I said in week 2, I really love this Cincy team. Like, way too much. You know they have some fantastic offensive pieces (including ones they aren’t using at all). And, if you paid attention to their last game against Pittsburgh, you know the defense is nothing to be laughed at either. Pittsburgh didn’t have the toughest go of it, but Cincy made the big plays when it counted, and did the most important thing – stopped Pittsburgh from scoring. 

It was a pretty crazy game, stats wise. I mean take a look at some of this stuff:

Final Score: Cincy – 24 /  Pitt – 10

Time of Possession: Pitt – 35.5 min / CIN – 24.5 min

Total Yards: PIT – 342 / CIN – 268

3rd down conversions: PIT – 9 for 19 / CIN – 3 for 9

The Bengals offensive output just wasn’t as good as Pittsburgh, no matter how you slice it.

Joe Burrow: 14 for 18 for 172 yards ./ Big Ben: 38 for 58 for 318 yards

Where it gets different are the other stats, the ones that reflect your opponents’ D:

Burrow: 3 TD, 1 INT, 0 sacks / Ben: 1 TD, 2 INT, 4 Sacks

Cincy was able to get to Ben when it counted. And was able to turn Ben over with INTs at opportune times, and then, most importantly, turned both INTs into Touchdowns

They were also able to greatly limit Najee Harris on the ground (though not through the air), showing you how strong their rush D is (something I talked about last week). That’s why, despite his staggering 19 targets, 14 receptions, and 102 receiving yards, Harris was only able to get 14 carries for 40 yards on the ground.

That follows Dalvin Cook having a decent pass catching game in week 1 (6 catches for 43 yards) but only getting 20 carries for 61 yards on the ground, and the Bengals completely stopping David Montgomery, allowing him only 3 catches for 18 yards in the air and another 20 carries for 61 yards on the ground in week 2. 

While that doesn’t necessarily bode well for opposing RBs, I actually like James Robinson just fine this week for a bunch of reasons.

First, there has been one constant so far in the Jags season – they lose a game and, right after, their coach says something along the lines of “Man! James Robinson is good! We need to use him more next week!” And he’s been pretty good at following through with that. Take a look:

Week 1: 5 carries for 25 yards. 3 receptions for 29 yards.

Loss. 

“We need to get Robinson more involved next week!!!”

Week 2: 11 carries for 47 yards. 3 receptions for 17 yards.

Loss.

“We need to get Robinson more involved next week!!”

Week 3: 15 carries for 88 yards and 1 TD. 6 receptions for 46 yards. 

Loss.

And what did Urban Meyer say after this loss? 

“We need to get Robinson more involved next week!!”

So I firmly expect him to be a centerpiece of this offense the rest of this season. And, if Cincy’s run defense doesn’t allow him a lot of success on the ground (which they probably won’t), he is a great pass catching back, and I expect him to follow the same path as Najee Harris last week (though I doubt he gets 19 targets and 100+ yards). 

Second, Trevor Lawrence still looks real green. Just look at his QB Rating the first 3 weeks: 70.1 in week 1, 37.2 in week 2, and 68.1 in week 3. That gives him an overall QB Rating of 60.3, second worst in the NFL (in front of only Zach Wilson). Even worse than Jacoby Brissett and Davis Mills. If you prefer QBR, Lawrence is at 23.3 for the season, again, just ahead of Wilson (who is at 22.1). The gap between him and the next worst player is huge, too, with Matt Ryan 3rd worst at 31.4. It’s why, apart from Marvin Jones, the passing game has been a shambles through 3 weeks. Seriously. Look at these numbers on the season:

Marvin Jones: 17 for 28 for 194 yards and 2 TDs. 18.7 DKP week 1 — 17.5 week 2 — 12.2 week 3

DJ Chark: 7 for 22 (SEVEN!!) for 154 yards and 2 TDs. 17.6 DKP week 1 — 2.9 week 2 — 13.9 week 3.

Leviska Shenault: 13 for 21 for only 95 yards. 12.9 DKP week 1 — 1.7 week 2 — 8.8 week 3. 

With James O’Shaughnessy on IR, they have 3 TEs they’ve been using as well – Luke Farrell, Jacob Hollister, and Chris Manhertz. They have combined for 11 targets, 5 catches, and 42 yards. Less catches and yards that O’Shaughnessy got in 1 game. This week they will be adding Dan Arnold, who they got in a trade from Carolina, giving up Corner CJ Henderson, in hopes to replace Jimmy O’s pass catching abilities. I like his chances of getting a decent amount of looks.

Cause that’s what happens, right? Lawrence is throwing it constantly because the Jags are finding themselves down by a couple TDs in most games. So the WRs/TEs are getting some fantasy points through attrition. But only Jones has been able to turn it into 3 good weeks. Chark has the talent to have some big weeks (and has had one great week and one good week so far), with the build to be an end zone threat. But he is also prone to the drop, and, as is the case with a lot of those big play guys, they have a great ceiling, and a horrible floor. Like a TTO baseball player. Shenault looks like the clear #3, and has only been getting short passes and doing little with them after the catch. And I wouldn’t be shocked if Arnold eats into his work (or JAX plays more 2 TE formations). 

Lawrence has pieces with talent, but he’s not been nearly consistent enough for them to be able capitlize on it. (Which means we aren’t getting tourney winning weeks from these dudes. It was easier when Jones was 3400. Now it’s a tough ask for almost all of them at fair prices. Especially this week in the showdown, where the prices are too high if anything).

Which is why we should expect the Jags to lean more and more on the run game, including throwing it a bunch to their RBs. And Robinson is going to catch most (if not all) of those passes. 

Third, he should have extra room to run. If Cincy has a big lead (which they easily could), they are going to try to prevent big plays by keeping their safeties back and guarding deep.

It’s like a “no doubles” defense in baseball, right? 

If you have the lead, you have your outfielders play as far back as they can, because a big play gives the other team a chance to get back in the game. So you take away the chance for a big play – a double or a triple – but, in doing so, make it easier for them to get singles. 

Think of running as singles in this analogy, with deep passes as the big plays. 

When the Bengals take a large lead, they will play back, which is what they did against Pittsburgh. They stopped Ben from connecting deep and getting a long TD with anyone, but they allowed a ton of short passes and runs to Harris, something Pittsburgh was more than happy to take advantage of. 

The Steelers got a ton of “singles”, but couldn’t get the big play they needed to convert that into scoring. 

I expect the same thing this week with the Jags – for the Bengals to try to put constant pressure on Lawrence (getting a bunch of sacks), forcing dump offs, and then taking away the long pass, forcing even more involvement from Robinson. 

Looks pretty good to me.

On the other side of the ball, as I said in my first paragraph, I love the Bengals O. Joe Burrow hasn’t had more than 18.6 DKP in any of his 3 starts, but he’s making the plays when he needs to. Which is why he has 7 TD on the year, tied for 5th in the NFL (with QBs like Murray and Russ Wilson and Josh Allen), despite being 25th in the NFL in passing yards and 28th in pass attempts. 

So, with Cincy pass catchers, you’re not really looking for volume. You’re looking for quality over quantity. Which makes them tougher to trust (given how random TDs can be), but gives them fantastic upside. Especially if Tee Higgins is forced to miss this week and, as of right now (Monday), he has not been able to practice. This will condense Barrow’s throws to, basically, 2 players, both of whom could easily pay off. 

Those are, of course, Ja’Marr Chase, who got only 5 targets last week, but turned them into 4 catches for 65 yards and 2 TDs. That’s 22.5 DKP. He’s had at least 1 TD every week. He had 23.9 DKP in week 1 and 13.4 DKP in week 2, meaning he’s producing no matter what (though some of that is the TDs). Still, Burrow looks for him in the end zone, and Chase is more than talented enough to get the job done. And if he could do it against decent defenses, he should have no problem against Jacksonville. This could be the 3rd week (out of 4) where he outscores his QB in terms of fantasy points (and the other week he only lost by a couple DKP). 

The second receiver is Tyler Boyd, who got 6 targets last week and got you 4 catches for 36 yards and 1 TD, good for 13.6 DKP – his 2nd straight 14 DKP week. I think Boyd is significantly riskier than Chase (who is the clear WR1 on this team), especially with how little I expect Burrow to need to throw it (and how little the Bengals are throwing it with the lead).

That means one thing: Joe Mixon week!!!!! Oh boy! 

In week 1, Mixon went nuts against Minnesota, getting 127 yards and 1 TD on the ground, with 4 receptions for 23 yards in the air, netting 28 DKP. He added 69 yards on the ground in week 2 and 90 yards in week 3, but hasn’t had that TD luck, keeping his fantasy scores low. But that’s good for us – it has kept his price respectable, and hopefully it lowers his ownership this week (though it’ll be high no matter what). 

To stress this once again, Jacksonville is really bad. And their D is really bad. And the Bengals offense has some fantastic players in it who should have no problem putting up monster games this week.

My Captain Plays (in no particular order – with CPT pricing)

Joe Mixon (16500) – Last week, in the TNF article, I put CMC in this spot by himself, saying I was fine going with 100% CMC as captain to try and get over/around the field. I said that CMC was so talented, against such a bad team, and is so involved in all aspects of the offense, that the only way he wouldn’t pay off was if he got injured. Oops. Sorry for jinxing it. What I will say here, instead, is I am also fine with going with Mixon at 100% at captain to get over/around the field. Mixon is so talented, against such a bad team, and is so involved in all aspects of the offense, that the only way he won’t pay off is if he gets injured.

James Robinson (14100) – While I don’t think Robinson has the 100 yard/3 TD upside Mixon has this game, I do think he gets you 40-50 yards on the ground and catches 6-10 passes for 60-80 or so yards. If he lucks into a TD, he crushes this price. I expect him to be the centerpiece of this Jags offense this week (especially with how Lawrence has been playing).

OTF (Over The Field) Plays

Ja’Marr Chase (10200) – While I don’t like him as much as Mixon this game, if you want to use Chase in the CPT spot, I get it. He could easily get you another 22 DKP, even with Burrow not needing to throw it that much. He’s done it twice so far this season. He gets red zone usage. He gets big plays. He gets targeted the most on the team. And he gets the benefit of Tee Higgins’ targets getting redistributed. 

Bengals D (5600) – So far on the season, the Bengals have been one of the best Ds in the NFL. Trevor Lawrence has been one of the worst QBs – he’s thrown 5 TDs, 7 INTs, and been sacked 5 times. I expect an INT or two, at least a handful of sacks, and a good shot at a TD out of the Bengals D today. 

Evan McPherson (3800) – I like McPherson plenty this week. The Bengals should have no problem moving the ball down the field against the Jags, but that doesn’t mean they’re gonna wind up in the end zone every time. There’ll be plenty of times they have a couple bad passes in a row and wind up kicking a FG. McPherson has a great chance to get back to double digit DKP here. 

Carlos Hyde (1800) – I mean, I don’t love Hyde here. But, again, Lawrence has been terrible. Which means they should be running it more than you’d think a team playing from behind should. He had 8 rushes for 44 yards last week, for 4.4 DKP. In week 1, he had 9 rushes for 44 yards, adding 2 receptions for 14 yards, good for 7.8 DKP. While he didn’t get a target last week, he’s certainly capable. And, while Robinson will get a large majority of work, Hyde will still get enough touches to pay off 1800. I mean 1800 is just way too cheap.

Samaje Perine (800) – Like with Hyde, the RB2 on this team is way, way too underpriced. I know Mixon is getting bellcow work and Perine isn’t getting a ton of work, but 800??? That’s a joke. He got 1 catch for 8 yards last week, which got him more than 2x his salary. In week 1, he got 1 catch for 7 yards and 5 measly rushes for 22 yards. Still, 3.9 DKP for 800?? I’d take it. I mean, he played 21% of the Bengals snaps, not 5%. 

Auden Tate (400) and Mike Thomas (600) – With Tee Higgins out, we should see both of these guys fighting for WR3 duties this week. While that doesn’t translate into a ton of work, that’s ok – they are so unbelievably cheap they barely have to do anything. Last week, sans Higgins, Tate got 1 reception for 14 yards – 2.4 DKP on 400 is 6x value. Thomas got 1 catch for 19 yards. On 600 salary, that 2.9 DKP is almost 5x. They could easily get you 0s, and I wouldn’t go OTF if Higgins plays. But, for 400 and 600, how do you not take a bunch of them?

GPP Options

Trevor Lawrence (10400) – When you are on a team as bad as the Jags, and you wind up playing most games down by a butt-ton of points, you are force to throw the ball often. That means, even if you aren’t throwing the ball well, you can still back into some amazing weeks. Look at Lawrence’s week 1 – Like I said earlier, he went 28 for 51, which is awful, and had a QB Rating of only 70.1. But that was still enough to get him 332 passing yards, 3 TDs, and 25.08 DKP. Which is about 6.5 more DKP than Burrow’s gotten in any start this year. If you think the Jags are playing from a huge deficit this game, you can consider Lawrence just on volume alone. Though, be wary – he still had to throw a ton in weeks 2 and 3, and he only got you 8.9 and 11.5 DKP in those weeks, respectively. Even with a decent corps of receivers. 

Marvin Jones (8600) and DJ Chark (7200) – Like I said before, I really like Jones and Chark. I think both are talented and, with a more seasoned Lawrence, they could both have some huge weeks in the future. But I worry about them in this offense at this point in time. Again, it’s not like Jones and Chark can’t have decent weeks, it’s that Lawrence has been so bad, they haven’t been able to get to fantastic yet. And, for these prices, I want them pushing 20 DKP today. While that is certainly possible (given, again, the volume), it’s also entirely possible Jones has his first bad week, and Chark has another 2 DKP game. I trust Jones more, I think Chark has a higher upside. 

Tyler Boyd (7400) – If Boyd doesn’t get that TD last week, he doesn’t hit value for you. If Burrow throws at little as he has been, it won’t matter if Higgins is out – Chase will get the most important looks, and Boyd will be fighting to get the points we would need from him at this price. I think he has potential because of his talent and because he is the clear #2 target here (and miles ahead of #3), so you can’t put him lower than a serious GPP play. But I don’t think you can call him as much of a sure thing as Chase (or Mixon), and, if you want to play those guys, it could be real hard to fit Boyd in there, too. 

Dan Arnold (4400) – If he had been given more time to learn the playbook and get accustomed to everything, I would be OTF on Arnold here. But, apart from being depressed about being traded from the undefeated Panthers to the horrific Jags, Arnold only has 3 days to learn everything he needs to play here. Don’t get me wrong – I expect some big weeks out of Arnold in the future. Lawrence has been terrible and needs that good pass catching TE to chuck it to. That’s why Jimmy O went 6 for 8 for 48 yards in week 1 for 10.8 DKP. But the Jags have (as of right now), 3 other healthy TEs on the roster, and I expect them to shoulder the load this week while Arnold gets caught up. 

CJ Uzomah (4000) – If you’ve been reading my analysis the last 3 weeks, you know I’m a big fan of Uzomah and his talent. The problem is that, so far, Burrow hasn’t had to use him. He’s only throwing the ball a small handful of times every week, and almost all of those targets are going to the big WRs. I stand firm that, one of thes weeks, Uzomah is going to get 20 DKP and that he has huge red zone upside, so he has to remain in your player pool in GPPs. But I don’t think a matchup against the Jags, where Cincy should win handily and not throw too often, is gonna be that week. And his price is too high for the gamescript and what he’s been doing so far. All of that is gonna keep ownership off him though, so feel free to throw him in some MMEs. 

Jacob Hollister (1000) – One of two things happens – either Dan Arnold comes in and takes all the snaps, despite not knowing the playbook, and Hollister is the clear TE2, at which point he only gets a couple targets in the game. But since he’s only 1000 so, even with a couple targets, he could still pay off easily. Or, if Arnold isn’t ready yet, Hollister stays the TE1 this week and, like last week, he sees 6 targets. He only caught 2 of those for 15 yards, sure, but that 3.5 DKP is more that enough to get value on 1k salary. And only catching 2 of 6 gives him room to improve. 

DEEP GPP – Luke Farrell (200) – The minimum, 200. Arnold will almost certainly impact his work moving forward, but he could still have one more week of relevance. And by relevance, I mean getting 1 catch. Thart’s relevant enough for 200.

UTF (Under the Field) Plays

Joe Burrow (11600) – I don’t expect the Bengals to have to throw it that much this week. As I noted earlier, Burrow is 28th in the NFL in pass attempts this season and 25th in passing yards. He’s been bolstered by his huge number of TDs. But I wouldn’t be surprised if most of those go to Mixon this week, leaving Burrow getting 15 or so completions and 150-200 yards, which isn’t gonna nearly get you value as the most expensive player on the slate. 

Leviska Shenault (6600)Way too expensive for someone averaging less than 8 DKP a week. He got 1.7 DKP in week 2, and, with Dan Arnold in the mix now (and Jones and Chalk the easy 1 and 2 options on this team), Shenault is a thanks but no thanks for me. If he was 4000 or less (which is what he deserves), he’d be an easy GPP play given his talent. But 6600 is a joke. Lawrence would have to have his best week in the NFL by far, and look damn near like an all-star for Shenault to be worth it. 

Josh Lambo (3600) – Lambo has 5 DKP so far this season, total. The Jags really are that bad, folks. 

Jags D (3000) – I don’t expect the Jags to get a lucky TD 3 weeks in a row, which puts them right at, about, 0 DKP this week (plus or minus 3). 

Players I am Fading (if I was playing one lineup):

  • Chris Manhertz (2400) – Week 2, after Jimmy O went down, Manhertz was the de facto TE1. He got 0 DKP. Last week, he was slated to be the TE1, before being overtaken by Hollister. He got 0 targets. I don’t expect anything out of him the rest of the reason (barring an injury to Arnold).
  • Chris Evans (1600) – The clear RB3, getting, like, 2 snaps a game. Seriously. He’s not even on the field. It’s rare that 1600 is too much for someone. For some reason, he’s more expensive than the Bengals actual RB2. 
  • Jamal Agnew (1200) – Don’t be fooled by the 4 DKP he’s averaging a game. It’s cause he got 2 lucky special teams TDs. He will get 0 DKP almost every week. Again, it’s rare 1200 is too much for someone, but he should be 200, like Evans.

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