Just as Joe Burrow was finally getting over his preseason calf strain, he is now sidelined by a wrist injury. We don’t yet know how much time Burrow will miss, but it could be anywhere from a couple of weeks to the rest of the season. What does this mean for the fantasy football values of the rest of the Cincinnati Bengals offense?
Editor’s Note (Nov. 17): Joe Burrow’s wrist injury will likely require surgery and put him out for the year per Bengals’ head coach Zac Taylor.
Fantasy Impact of the Joe Burrow Injury
Joe Mixon, RB
Everyone on the offense takes a hit for however long Burrow is out, but it’s fair to say Joe Mixon is the least impacted. Jake Browning won’t be able to move the offense as well as Burrow, which will inevitably cap Mixon’s touchdown upside. However, he’ll likely make up for it — at least to some degree — in volume.
Mixon is coming off his fourth straight game with at least 12.5 fantasy points, as well as his fourth straight with a touchdown. He managed to post his highest-scoring fantasy total of the season this week, but those streaks are definitely in jeopardy.
Consider Mixon more of a mid-RB2, at best, for the foreseeable future.
Ja’Marr Chase, WR
The player most impacted by Burrow’s absence is clearly Ja’Marr Chase. He wasn’t particularly involved in the offense even before Burrow went down, but afterward, it was as if he wasn’t even on the field.
Chase finished Thursday night’s loss to the Ravens with just two catches on seven targets. With the Bengals trailing throughout, it is wholly unacceptable for him to see that little volume.
Chase did salvage his night with a garbage-time touchdown, and things will likely be better with a full week for Browning to prepare. But the game-breaking upside for Chase is gone. He goes from an elite WR1 to a mid-to-low WR2, at best.
If we find out that Burrow is going to miss multiple weeks, and you can still trade Chase as if he’s a WR1, you should absolutely do it. There’s an argument to be made to try and trade him now, before we have information, to try and capitalize on the uncertainty. But there is a risk that you end up selling low if Burrow’s injury is not as serious as it seems.
Tee Higgins, WR
The Bengals have been without Tee Higgins for the past two weeks, as he’s dealt with multiple injuries this year. It now looks as if Higgins’ 2023 season will be a lost one entirely.
Burrow’s calf injury ruined the start of Higgins’ season. Then, Higgins was hampered by a rib injury of his own. After returning and starting to look like himself, he strained a hamstring at practice. Now, when he returns, he may be without his quarterback.
As we saw Thursday night, Browning is not capable of even supporting a single wide receiver. If Chase is a WR2, that makes Higgins a low WR3.
Given the lack of production from Higgins this season, it will be very difficult to trade him for anything of value. Fantasy managers likely have no choice but to hold and hope Browning finds some magic or Burrow returns sooner rather than later.
Tyler Boyd, WR
Tyler Boyd’s current fantasy value is a product of Higgins being out. He hasn’t surpassed 40 receiving yards in any game in which Higgins has played.
Once Higgins returns, there won’t be anything here for fantasy, especially with Browning under center.
Bengals Ancillary Players
We’ve seen usable days from the likes of Trenton Irwin and Tanner Hudson over the past couple of weeks. Those will probably go away, but it’s not as if either was a reliable option anyway. They will remain the same type of dart throws they previously were, with a far lower likelihood of hitting.
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