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    Cincinnati Bengals vs. Arizona Cardinals Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Players To Target Include Joe Burrow, James Conner, Marquise Brown, and Others

    Who are some of the fantasy-relevant players you should be looking to start in the Cincinnati Bengals vs. Arizona Cardinals matchup in Week 5?

    This game features two teams that haven’t performed like we thought they would this summer — does that change this week for fantasy football managers? The Cincinnati Bengals‘ fantasy preview discusses the hope for their passing game, and the Arizona Cardinals‘ fantasy outlook digs into the value of their rookie receiver.

    Looking to make a trade in your fantasy league? Having trouble deciding who to start and who to sit? Setting DFS lineups? Check out PFN’s Free Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer, Start/Sit Optimizer, and DFS Lineup Optimizer to help you make the right decision!

    Cincinnati Bengals at Arizona Cardinals

    • Spread: Bengals -3
    • Total: 44.5
    • Bengals implied points: 23.8
    • Cardinals implied points: 20.8

    Quarterbacks

    Joe Burrow: Zach Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, and Desmond Ridder all have top-20 finishes on their 2023 résumé, something Burrow can’t claim. There is simply no sugar-coating how bad things have been through a month, but that won’t stop me from trying.

    • No touchdown passes in three of four games
    • Pacing for 1,381 fewer passing yards than last season
    • Yet to average more than 5.5 yards per pass in a game

    It’s been bad, and he could be without Tee Higgins this weekend. Can he right the ship against the 29th-ranked defense in terms of yards per play? It’s certainly possible, though I don’t blame you if you want to treat Burrow like a child.

    That is, send him to his room to think about what he has done and welcome him back into your good graces if he shows signs of correcting his behavior.

    I acknowledge the upside that comes with a talent like Burrow in a matchup like this, but he has entered prove-it-to-me status. He’s my QB14 this week, ranking behind lesser players who have proven to own higher fantasy floors this season (C.J. Stroud and Brock Purdy).

    Joshua Dobbs: He was the punchline of tanking jokes this summer, but it looks like the joke is on us. Dobbs has completed at least 70% of his passes or been involved in multiple touchdowns in all four weeks this season, offering a reasonable fantasy floor after a shaky start to the season.

    My trust in this offense as a whole is limited, and therefore, I don’t see much ceiling potential. That’s why I have Burrow ranked ahead of him in this matchup, though it is far closer than I would have ever guessed just four short weeks ago.

    Running Backs

    Joe Mixon: He hasn’t finished better than RB15 in a week this season, but without a finish worse than RB27, he’s been the most stable part of this disappointing offense up to this point. I like that he is averaging 17 touches per game and that he has a rush gaining 13+ yards in all four games.

    On the downside, Burrow’s struggles are sapping his upside. Mixion has just one score this season due to the ineptitude of this offense as a whole, and three targets total over the past two weeks (10 through the first two weeks) is simply unacceptable.

    Mixon has fallen a touch in my ranks, but he is a fine RB2 that comes with a reasonably narrow range of outcomes. That’s not a great sales job, but a decent floor holds value as long as you have some ceiling potential elsewhere in your starting lineup.

    James Conner: He busted in Week 4 (56 yards) against the 49ers, a matchup that was always going to be an issue.

    The veteran was a top-25 running back in each of the first three weeks this season, and I have him projected to get back on track against the third-worst run defense on a per-carry basis.

    Wide Receivers

    Ja’Marr Chase: Despite the struggles of Burrow, Chase has managed to catch 79.2% of his targets over the past two weeks for 214 yards. The four-game scoring drought to open this season is twice as long as anything he experienced last season, and there are two ways to read that:

    1. Run away; this offense is broken
    2. Run toward; he can only be held in check for so long

    I lean toward the latter, especially if Burrow elects to lock in on him in an effort to break out of this funk. I have Chase outside of my top 10 at the moment, and that’s a significant dip in ranking, but it doesn’t move him near my bench.

    Tee Higgins: He suffered a broken rib in the third quarter of Week 4’s loss in Tennessee and is iffy at best for this game. He has one good game this season (eight catches for 89 yards and two scores against the Ravens in Week 2), and while I’m not a doctor, I have broken ribs before, and I find it hard to believe that the injury inspires him to break out of this slump.

    Track this status as we near kickoff, but in the spots where I have Higgins, I’m planning on sitting him at the moment.

    Tyler Boyd: We are coming up on the one-year anniversary since the last time Boyd cleared 60 receiving yards in a game. While I understand the thought process in bumping him up the ranks this week if Higgins sits, the fact of the matter is that targets in this offense just aren’t currently worth what we expected them to be.

    MORE: Fantasy News Tracker

    Boyd deserves to be rostered with Higgins’ status TBD and the lack of another option to fill that role, but I’m not playing him this week – he’s outside of my top 40.

    Marquise Brown: Hollywood has gone over 14 fantasy points in three straight games and, per the Week 5 Cheat Sheet, has been a top-20 producer at the position in consecutive weeks against two premiere defenses in Dallas and San Francisco.

    The production has been steady of late, though I do worry about how effective this passing game can be against the fifth-blitz-heaviest defense in the NFL. I’m not crazy about banking on Brown creating throwing lanes in tight coverage, nor am I sure that Dobbs will handle the heat well. I could be talked into Brown as a Flex play, but nothing more.

    Michael Wilson: The 6’2” rookie was deservedly added in a bunch of leagues after his seven-catch, 76-yard, two-touchdown breakout against the Niners. He’s going to be on the field plenty (Arizona had three receivers run at least 35 routes last week), and that’s step one in a breakout, but the consistency of this offense will make this year a bumpy ride for the pride of Stanford.

    While I’m not yet sold on him as a top-40 receiver in redraft, I very much like his prospects in dynasty if Arizona can solve the quarterback position.

    Tight Ends

    Zach Ertz: Mike Vick was the quarterback who got Ertz his first NFL completion. The veteran has been around the league for a long time, and yet, he is out here with as many top-20 finishes at the position through four weeks as George Kittle and Mark Andrews combined.

    MORE: PFN Consensus Rankings

    Life comes at you fast. While the per-target upside is limited, to say the least, he has seen at least eight looks in three of four games and has a reasonable floor in PPR leagues. Not every one of your starters has to have week-winning potential: There is value in those who are unlikely to lose you ground on your competition, and that is a box Ertz has certainly checked thus far.

    I remain somewhat skeptical that the 32-year-old can keep earning targets at this rate and have him just outside of my top 15 at the position.

    Should You Start Joe Burrow or Brock Purdy?

    The answer here depends solely on your specific matchup. If you believe you are fighting an uphill battle, then swing for the fences and see if you can nail the Burrow bounce-back spot.

    If you’re in what is expected to be a tight battle, take the floor that Purdy offers and let your star players decide your fate for Week 5. If you’re at this point in the QB rankings, my guess is that you need upside, and that is why I have Burrow one spot ahead of Purdy in my rankings.

    Should You Start Marquise Brown or Drake London?

    With over 13 fantasy points in three straight games, Brown gets the nod for me in this spot. Does he carry a similarly low floor as London, given the limitations of this offense? Of course, he does, but at least we have some proof of concept when it comes to him being a usable fantasy option.

    I feel good about him winning the target battle in this head-to-head, and that has me leaning in his direction for your flex spot.

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