With Baker Mayfield having played through a barrage of injuries this year that have clearly affected his play, will fantasy football managers be able to rely on him for one final week? What is the latest regarding Mayfield’s health, is he playing this week, and what should fantasy managers do if not?
Is Baker Mayfield playing this week vs. the Cincinnati Bengals?
Mayfield has had a poor year compared to the bar he set last season. How much of this can be put on his injured shoulder, among other injuries, is not clear. What is clear is that we will not see Mayfield in Week 18. It has been reported that he will be rested prior to his planned surgery on January 19 to repair the torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. He has been playing through the injury since Week 2.
In his place, we will see Case Keenum start — Keenum started Week 7 against the Broncos as well. Nick Mullens was also a possibility, but it was announced by Kevin Stefanski on Wednesday that Keenum would get the start with Mullens promoted from the practice squad as his backup.
The 2021 season for Cleveland’s signal-caller
It has been an up-and-down season for Mayfield. The Browns have not won consecutive games since Weeks 3 and 4, a run that coincides with the injuries piling up for Mayfield. The 2020 season raised expectations for Mayfield — simply put, he has had a below-average season. He has only thrown over 250 yards in a game twice all year.
The Browns have become a team that relies on their run game to take them places. However, for that to work, teams need to respect the quarterback as well. Is the problem that Mayfield is not the threat that the Browns hoped he would be when they spent a No. 1 pick on him in 2018?
Turnovers have crept into his game more and more through the second half of the season, culminating in 6 interceptions over the last two weeks alone. Browns fans are hoping that he feels refreshed when he returns next year from injury. And return he will, as it has been announced that the Browns intend to start 2022 with Mayfield at the helm.
His stats this year will end at 3,010 yards with a 17:13 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Those are not numbers you would expect from a fourth-year No. 1 selection — it’s a down year compared to the highs of the 2020 season.
Baker Mayfield and fantasy football expectations
Mayfield has not been fantasy-relevant at all this season (Week 5 against the Rams aside). If you have him as your starter, it’s likely you are not playing for a championship unless you also have Jonathan Taylor and Cooper Kupp. Keenum doesn’t offer any real attraction against a much improved Bengals defense, despite their place in the lower half of teams against the pass.
There are plenty of better options ranging from Tyler Huntley and Big Ben in the Ravens-Steelers matchup to Carson Wentz against the Jags. If you have Mayfield in dynasty, then sit tight. Hold on to him and hope he comes back as a new man next year. Trading him now would get you pennies on the dollar and just isn’t worth it. His stock is at its lowest after a rough season plagued by pain and injuries. A resilient year in 2022 is an absolute must.
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