The Joe Burrow situation would be difficult for fantasy football managers to deal with on a normal week. Still, with his Bengals playing on Monday night, there is a layer of risk management that goes into making this decision that is unique. What do the numbers say about balancing risk with reward for Week 3?
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Latest News Surrounding Joe Burrow
Following Saturday’s practice, Joe Burrow has been listed as questionable for the Monday night showdown with the Rams.
While he was able to take part in a limited capacity, his status is very much in question and likely won’t be known until the hours leading up to kickoff.
PFN Bengals Beat Reporter Jay Morrison noted in his Saturday injury report review that Burrow’s teammates expect him to be inactive, per a league source.
Despite those expectations, the Bengals will continue to monitor Burrow’s calf and are expected to take the decision up to game time.
“We’ve still got two days before the game. Forty-eight hours. More than 48 hours,” head coach Zac Taylor said this weekend leading up to the game. “It’s really day to day. We’ll have conversations and see where it goes. But he looked good today.”
Fantasy Impact on Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins
This is the hard part for fantasy football managers. At the quarterback position, you can scoop a replacement, and we will get to that in a minute. But for the receiver position, these two were supposed to drive your team’s success, and now you are forced to decide if they are even playable in Week 3 against the Rams.
Let’s get nerdy.
Jake Browning will take over should Burrow sit, something that sounds like the betting favorite as we sit here today, and thus, the betting favorite as you are forced to make lineup decisions before the Sunday games start, and you lose access to your reserves.
Ja’Marr’s not breaking any news, but he doesn’t think Burrow is playing, nor does he think Burrow’s cart ride with Mike Brown was a good sign. pic.twitter.com/dO2n7Tab2l
— Jay Morrison (@ByJayMorrison) September 22, 2023
This preseason (and yes, I know it’s the preseason, but that’s all we have to go on, and given that he was working with limited support against limited competition, it’s not as bad of a sample as you may assume), Browning averaged 6.2 yards per pass and 8.6 yards per completion. Who does that compare within the NFL up to this point in the regular season, you ask?
- Joshua Dobbs: 5.9 YPA and 8.6 YPC
- Daniel Jones: 5.8 YPA and 8.9 YPC
Not exactly glorious company when it comes to a passing outlook. Through the five games Dobbs and Jones have played this season, here is a look at their average production for their most and second-most targeted player on a per-game basis (that is, how did the player who earned the most and second-most targets in each individual game do).
- Most targeted: 7.74 PPG (half-PPR)
- Second-most targeted: 6.50 PPG (half-PPG)
Oh dear, that’s not good. Now, we do have to acknowledge that the Bengals boast more pass-catching talent than either of those teams, so let’s use 2022 as a way to get closer to a projection.
- Ja’Marr Chase: 15.3 PPG
- Tee Higgins: 12.4 PPG
From there, it’s simple math. Again, we are dealing with smaller sample sizes, but it’s better than a blind guess. If we average out the top-target numbers with Chase’s 2022 numbers and the secondary-target ones with those of Higgins, here is a rough expectation of what we can expect on Monday night:
- Chase: 11.5 fantasy points
- Higgins: 9.5 fantasy points
Up to this point, that would slot in Chase as the WR29 and Higgins as the WR39. Do they hold an upside that trumps that? Of course, but with Browning being an unknown and the fact that the Los Angeles Rams currently lead the league in average time of possession (Bengals rank 27th), the downside comes with both quality and quantity of targets.
Here are my WR rankings, assuming we don’t have any further information by the kickoff of the early games on Sunday:
28. Rashid Shaheed at GB
29. Ja’Marr Chase vs LAR
30. Garrett Wilson vs. NE
31. Jerry Jeudy at MIA
32. Jakobi Meyers vs. PIT
33. Nico Collins at JAX
34. Elijah Moore vs. TEN
35. Drake London at DET
36. DeAndre Hopkins at CLE
37. Jordan Addison vs. LAC
38. Gabe Davis at WAS
39. Tee Higgins vs. LAR
40. Courtland Sutton at MIA
Check out PFN’s Consensus Rankings as lineup lock approaches for the latest tweaks and our PFN YouTube Channel for live streams from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday as we look to get you ready for a big Week 3!
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