Cincinnati Bengals star quarterback Joe Burrow is a candidate for rest against the Cleveland Browns this weekend. The Bengals locked up their playoff spot, and they need to win with several other teams losing in order to grab the No. 1 seed. While the first-round bye and home-field advantage would be great, it’s a longshot at this point. Considering this, and the fact that Burrow limped off last week with an apparent knee injury, will he suit up in Week 18, and what can fantasy football managers expect from this situation?
Joe Burrow’s 2021 production
Burrow has looked outstanding throughout the 2021 season, but there have been plenty of bumps in the road.
He’s thrown for 4,611 yards with 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions on 520 pass attempts. Burrow added 118 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground as well.
Burrow did, however, have a bad stretch of games where he threw for 1 or fewer touchdowns in five of six games. Over that span, he averaged 237.5 yards with 1 touchdown and 0.8 interceptions per game.
Nevertheless, he’s looked elite in his last two games. In Week 16 against the Ravens, he posted 525 yards and 4 touchdowns. Then, last week against the Chiefs, Burrow recorded 446 yards and another 4 touchdowns. He didn’t record any interceptions over that span.
Will Burrow play vs. the Browns in Week 18?
Burrow was listed as a full participant in practice this week, and his knee injury doesn’t seem to be serious. With that being said, head coach Zac Taylor said the current plan is to rest his star quarterback before the playoffs.
Brandon Allen is expected to draw the start, but there is a possibility that Burrow could be the primary backup in case of an emergency. However, there have been reports that Jake Browning could be called up to serve as Allen’s backup to make sure Burrow doesn’t need to see the field.
It’s an interesting situation overall because the Bengals could potentially land the top seed in the AFC if everything works in their favor. Nevertheless, it looks as if Burrow will sit out the entire game this weekend.
How will Burrow’s absence affect the Bengals’ offense?
Burrow’s absence would deliver a massive hit to Cincinnati’s offense. He’s one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL, while Allen hasn’t shown the ability to consistently command an offense at the highest level. Allen’s played in 13 games (8 starts) throughout his career. He’s thrown for 1,453 yards with 9 touchdowns and 6 interceptions on 231 pass attempts.
His best game ever did come in a Cincinnati uniform, though. In Week 16 of the 2020 season against Houston, Allen recorded 371 yards and 2 touchdowns. Allen would be an immediate downgrade with plenty of risk, but he can provide some upside as the leader of an offense.
Are fantasy points available vs. Cleveland?
This is a tough matchup for most quarterbacks, but it will be even more difficult for Allen this weekend. Cleveland’s only allowing 17.3 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, which ranks 22nd in the NFL.
The Bengals are likely to rest several starters, not just Burrow in this game. If that’s the case, Allen will be forced to play with several backups against Cleveland’s starting defense.
He’s flashed some upside and the ability to support at least one receiver in the past. However, that may not be the case this weekend.
Most of the playoff teams are still playing for something this weekend, and there are several better options than Allen. He shouldn’t truly be considered for fantasy.