by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Thursday games are often tricky as it is, because there isn’t necessarily a reason to take any undue risks with questionable options (which could set you back and spoil your week). Who are the borderline players that should be in lineups? Who should be sat down? Let’s take a look at the skill players taking the field tonight and try to answer those questions:
Joe Flacco – Quarterback
Flacco doesn’t have the upside potential of some other quarterbacks in the league, though he was solid in Week 1 (236 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT) while the Bengals allowed 319 yards and 2 TD in Week 1. That said, just look at Flacco’s recent performances against Cincinnati:
- 11/27/16 – 25-36, 234 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
- 01/01/17 – 32-49, 267 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
- 09/10/17 – 9-17, 121 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
- 12/31/17 – 25-47, 203 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
So over the past two seasons even his “best” day saw him post pedestrian numbers. On a short week is that a gamble you want to take? He’s a viable QB2, but hardly a must start.
Verdict – Viable QB2, at best
Alex Collins – Running Back
He was supposed to be “the man”, and while a big lead likely influenced his usage taking 7 carries for 13 yards and 1 TD is a bitter disappointment. The Bengals did a good job at limiting the Indianapolis Colts’ running game in Week 1 (22 carries for 75 yards, good for 3.4 yards/carry), though it featured a pair of rookies and the always disappointing Christine Michael. Let’s not forget that this defense allowed the eighth most points per week to opposing running backs in ’17, including Collins totaling 96 yards and 1 TD in the final game of ’17. That should give optimism, and keep him on the spectrum depending on your alternatives.
Verdict – Worthy RB2 (potential Top 20 RB)
Michael Crabtree – Wide Receiver
He was supposed to help to transform the position for the Ravens, but mustered just 3 receptions for 38 yards and 1 TD in his Baltimore debut. Obviously the TD salvaged his day, and that’s not something we can depend on each week. There’s already questions about his QB and he’s going to have to battle for targets as no player received more than 6 in Week 1. At best he’s a WR3 given the risks involved.
Verdict – Viable WR3
John Brown – Wide Receiver
You can lump in Willie Snead and the tight end group here as well, as there’s no guarantee that anyone gets enough opportunities to be worthwhile. Flacco spread the ball around in Week 1 and could easily take a similar approach here.
Verdict – Too risky
Andy Dalton – Quarterback
In Week 1 the Ravens stifled the Buffalo Bills offense, holding their passing attack to go 11-33 for 70 yards, 0 TD and 2 INT. Of course it was a quarterback duo that featured Josh Allen’s NFL debut and the infamous Nathan Peterman, so that performance shouldn’t be the reason to hold concerns about Dalton and his Week 2 outlook.
The bigger concern is that the offense continues to run through Joe Mixon, limiting the opportunities for Dalton and company. He attempted 28 passes in Week 1, which tied for the 25th most in the NFL. He doesn’t have the upside with his legs that others do, which could help to overcome those limitations, and he managed just 243 yards. He’s a potential QB2, but this early in the week there’s simply too much risk.
Verdict – Low-end QB2, but too much risk
Giovani Bernard – Running Back
With Mixon dominating the touches Bernard is closer to being cut by fantasy owners as opposed to used. It seems like he’s going to be a 5-8 touch per game player, and while the potential is there to have a big day it’s impossible to trust him.
Verdict – Must sit
Tyler Boyd – Wide Receiver
He’s the #2 receiver on the depth chart, but he’s at best #4 overall as he trails A.J. Green, Mixon and probably Tyler Eifert in terms of opportunity. Boyd turned 5 targets into 3 catches in Week 1, but they went for a mere 26 yards and 0 TD. There’s no value here.
Verdict – Must sit
Tyler Eifert – Tight End
With a pair of top tight ends going down due to injury Eifert becomes an intriguing name as a fill-in. He was only targeted 3 times in Week 1, but converted them all into receptions for 44 yards and 1 TD. No one is going to argue his potential upside, especially as a featured red zone player as he’s listed at 6’6” and 255 lbs. The problem has always been his inability to stay on the field (he played in 10 games between 2016 & 2017). With that not being an issue heading into Week 2, there’s enough upside to consider him a viable low-end TE1 if you are searching for someone to plug in.
Verdict – Viable TE1
- Joe Mixon – Running Back
- A.J. Green – Wide Receiver
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
Make sure to check out all of our Week 2 rankings: