The Cleveland Browns will host the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon. The two clubs will open their season with a pivotal divisional matchup that will indeed have late-season ramifications. The Bengals will look to return to the AFC title game behind the leadership of star quarterback Joe Burrow. Meanwhile, the Browns will try to right the ship after a poor showing in 2022.
Building a winning lineup is difficult when playing showdown. Deciphering who to set as captain and staying within the salary is time-consuming. No worries; we will break down the game and help you build a lineup that will cash. Let’s go!!!
Bengals vs. Browns Odds
|Bengals||-2.5 (-110)||Over 47.5 (-110)||-130|
|Browns||+2.5 (-110)||Under 47.5 (-110)||+110|
Odds Courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
Bengals vs. Browns Start’ Em
It was a disaster of an inaugural season for Watson with the Cleveland Browns last season. The three-time Pro Bowler was suspended the first 11 games of the season due to a suspension from sexual assault allegations. Also, Watson missed the entire 2021 season as the emergence of his sexual harassment allegations came to light. When he did play, the quarterback posted career lows in passing yards per game, touchdown percentage, QBR, and completion percentage. However, there is reason to believe the former first-overall pick will bounce back this season.
Despite a brutal 2022 campaign, Watson still owns a career quarterback rating of 102.3. Additionally, from 2018-2020, the Clemson product amassed at least 4,000 all-purpose yards and 30 scores while earning a Pro Bowl nod each year. But more importantly, outside the sustained track record of success, Watson enters the season as the unquestioned starter for the first time since 2020. Watson can focus on just football for the first time in a while.
— Faithful Dawgs Podcast (@FDPodcastCLE) August 27, 2023
We will likely get the excellent version of Deshaun Watson sooner rather than later, starting on Sunday against the Bengals. Cincinnati was ninth in rushing yards per attempt allowed last season but was outside the top 15 in most major defensive team statistics against the pass.
Joe Mixon returns for his sixth season as the lead back in Cincinnati. Although he averaged south of four yards per carry for the third time in his career last season, the Bengals did little to shore up the running back room behind their workhorse. They drafted Illinois product Chase Brown out of Illinois but let longtime backup running back Samaje Perine walk.
Mixon isn’t the most efficient back, but he should get a large workload against a suspect Browns front seven. Cleveland coughed up 22 rushing touchdowns last season, the third-worst mark in the NFL. They also got gashed for nearly five yards per attempt. Not to mention, Mixon posted 96 rushing yards on 14 carries in his last game against the Browns.
The Browns’ defense should come at a relatively cheap price on Sunday as either a Week 1 stream or a DFS option. Cleveland was middle-of-the-pack last season regarding points and yards allowed, but they garnered a healthy amount of sacks against the Bengals last season, specifically at home. The Browns brought down Joe Burrow five times in their home matchup against the Bengals in 2022.
They also picked off the signal caller twice between their two meetings. The Cincinnati offensive line remains a weakness, and with Burrow nursing a bum calf, I like the Browns’ defense to accumulate a healthy amount of pressure on Sunday.
Bengals vs. Browns Sit ‘Em
The chances are slim that fantasy teams have the luxury of actually sitting Amari Cooper in Week 1 against the Bengals, but as far as DFS is concerned, his price tag is too rich for my blood. Cooper’s numbers against the Bengals are decent, averaging four catches and 68 yards per game, but a seven-catch, 131-yard performance in an October matchup last year inflated those numbers. Cooper also was held to under five PPR fantasy points in Week 1 last season.
It’s not to say it will happen again, but the Bengals were stingy in the red zone against opposing passers in the previous season. They allowed just 17 passing touchdowns last year, a not-so-welcome site for Cooper’s fantasy stock on Sunday.
I love Joey Burrow as much as the next guy, but his struggles against Cleveland are well-documented. He is 1-4 career against the Browns and has thrown just four touchdowns against four picks against Cleveland over their last three meetings. It’s not necessarily a knock on Burrow so much as a praise for the Browns’ defense. They were in the top five in passing yards allowed and passing touchdowns allowed in 2022.
Elijah Moore (WR)
Elijah Moore was the star of Cleveland training camp this season. The newly acquired Moore was a favorite of Browns’ beat writer Mary Kay Cabot.
Mary Kay Cabot is on-board the Elijah Moore hype train 👀. pic.twitter.com/FFfL016p4P
— Tyler Johnson (@T_johnson_TJ) September 3, 2023
The Browns’ human Swiss army knife garnish raved reviews this preseason before suffering a rib injury in early August in a game against the Commanders. Most notably, Moore played all over the field in Kevin Stefanski’s offense. All signs point towards Elijah Moore working as both a receiver and a rusher, as he did in his early days as a New York Jet. The idea that Deshaun Watson is ready to play to his standards in Cleveland this season also elevates Elijah Moore’s prospects headed into Week 1. The Bengals were 23rd in passing yards allowed last season, suggesting Moore could have a big afternoon on Sunday.
Fade of the Game
Chase Brown (RB)
New Bengals backup running back Chase Brown has become a sexy pick in most fantasy leagues because of his potential to step into a top-ten offense if starter Joe Mixon goes down. However, he and last year’s backup, Samaje Perine, differ dramatically. The veteran Perine was not only the primary backup to Mixon, but he was a capable change of pace back when both runners were healthy. The issue with Brown is unlike Perine. He has yet to perform well in any capacity thus far in his NFL career. The rookie posted just 69 rushing yards on 28 attempts in the preseason and still has healthy competition with fellow reserve running backs Chris Evans and Trayveon Williams.
I like Chris Evans, but just because he is the new show in town doesn’t mean he will fall right into the shoes that were left empty by Perine.
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