There wasn’t a lot of viable production from either the Bengals or Browns in the teams’ respective Week 1 losses, so let’s hope the mediocre defenses of both teams will wake up the offenses for more pleasing stats. Fantasy owners are undoubtedly wondering about whether to start Odell Beckham Jr., Kareem Hunt, an injured Jarvis Landry, and Tyler Boyd, among others, and SN’s Vinnie Iyer is here to help with the first bit of start ’em, sit ’em lineup advice for Week 2.
Things kick off in Cleveland at 8:20 p.m. ET on NFL Network. We’ll get official word on Landry’s injury status at around 6:50 p.m. ET. We’ll be updating our Landry injury post with news throughout the day, so check there for the latest. All other key offensive players are healthy and expected to play. Now, let’s find out which ones should be in your fantasy lineups.
Bengals: Who to start or sit in fantasy football on Thursday night
Start: RB Joe Mixon
Mixon was held in check by the Chargers’ suddenly improved run defense (19 carries, 69 yards) and Giovani Bernard also got more run as expected in the passing game. Mixon also lost a fumble in the game.
The Browns’ run defense was putrid last season, but it had a decent effort selling out against the Ravens. Mixon averages 20 carries for 101 yards in his short career against Cleveland, so we can expect the volume to be there with game script staying reasonable. Mixon should rebound well and also find the end zone.
Start: WR A.J. Green
Considering he was facing the Chargers’ tough, savvy cornerbacks, Green looked healthy and good again after missing all last season. The Browns are down Greedy Williams (shoulder) at cornerback again and had trouble with Hollywood Brown downfield last week. Green has owned the Browns in the past, but he hasn’t played against them in three years. He’ll have a good receiving night with steady targets.
Start: WR Tyler Boyd
The Browns also looked bad in the slot in Week 1, allowing a touchdown to Willie Snead. Boyd ran into Desmond King and couldn’t break free enough for a quiet opening afternoon, but he was locked in with his rookie QB in training camp. He should get healthy targets, too, with the results being something like six catches for 80 yards.
Start: QB Joe Burrow
Burrow did his best to hang in there against a tough Chargers pass defense, starting with intense pressure up front. He looked impressive running with 46 yards and a TD, but the No. 1 overall pick didn’t hit 200 yards passing in his debut. He’s facing a weaker, banged-up defense, which should lead to more efficiency, and Mixon, Green and Boyd will help him get there with better matchups. Burrow shouldn’t be forced into lineups in 10- and 12-team leagues, but he’ll come through nicely in two-QB/superflex formats and is a viable streamer in deeper leagues.
Sit: TE C.J. Uzomah
Uzomah did some decent work against the Chargers, supplementing Green and Boyd more than any extra wideout. But even though the Browns got badly burned by Mark Andrews, Uzomah is nothing like Andrews. You can find better streaming tight ends this early in the season.
Sit: Bengals defense/special teams
They had a couple of sacks of Tyrod Taylor, but they’re without linchpin Geno Atkins up front for a second straight game. The Browns’ pass protection looked better in the opener, and their running game should pound away to wear down the Bengals from making any big plays on the QB.
Sit: K Randy Bullock
We’re still covering our eyes and ears after Bullock pulled up lame with sore calves and missed that game-winning field goal try in Week 1
Browns: Who to start or sit in fantasy football on Thursday night
Start: RB Nick Chubb
Chubb owners started to panic, no doubt, when they saw he wasn’t the leading ball-carrier or rusher against the Ravens. He made the most of his 10 touches, rushing for 60 yards, but he didn’t work in the passing game at all once the Browns fell behind big. Talent isn’t the issue, however — it’s simply coaching and game script. Chubb will match Mixon with a solid straight-up rushing night and also find the end zone.
Start: RB Kareem Hunt
Hunt had 13 carries for 72 yards in Week 1 to lead the Browns, fresh off getting a pricey contract extension. He also had four catches for nine yards. He is arguably up to a RB2 in PPR leagues and consistent flex play in standard leagues. The Browns won’t be in trail checkdown mode here, but Hunt should mix in well behind Chubb and looks like he’s flying solo catching passes out of the backfield, too. The Bengals had trouble with both Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley in Week 1, which bodes well for the Browns’ dynamic duo.
Start: WR Jarvis Landry
Landry (hip) should play after catching five passes for 61 yards on six targets in Week 1. The good news is that his quarterback still has good eyes for him. The matchup in the slot with Mackensie Alexander is tough, but Landry can deliver a fine PPR night with a high floor but limited ceiling.
Start: WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham was fully healthy again in the opener, but he had just three catches for 22 yards. He did have 10 targets in the game but faced some veteran coverage from Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. The Bengals, with Trae Waynes out, have William Jackson and Darius Phillips on the outside. If he gets the same kind of volume, Beckham should have a strong bounce-back game with higher upside than Landry.
Sit: QB Baker Mayfield
The range of outcomes are wide for Mayfield in this game. He could easily have another clunker, even against a lesser division foe at home. The Browns also will be more run-oriented to try to get a win with what should be semi-positive game script. There’s a chance he could have a big game, but that low percentage of the reward isn’t worth the risk with so many better options in Week 2.
Sit: TE Austin Hooper
David Njoku (knee) had a big Week 1, only to get hurt again and land on short-term injured reserve. Does that mean one is inspired to go after Hooper, especially after the Bengals had some trouble with Hunter Henry last week? Between Hunt, Landry, OBJ and other targets, it’s hard to trust Hooper until you see him produce notably in the new offense.
Sit: Browns defense/special teams
This will be tempting against a rookie QB with the extra emotional boost of prime time at home, but this feels like a trap with the Browns’ defense having several injuries around Myles Garrett. The Bengals won’t light them up like the Ravens, but a better Burrow can spoil what looks like a sneaky streamer.
Sit: K Cody Parkey
Keep Parkey parked in his first game for the Browns replacing Austin Seibert.
Bengals-Browns DraftKings Showdown lineup for Thursday night
Captain: RB NIck Chubb ($11,400)
FLEX: QB Joe Burrow ($10,800)
FLEX: WR Odell Beckham Jr. ($8,200)
FLEX: RB Kareem Hunt ($7,400)
FLEX: WR Tyler Boyd ($7,000)
FLEX: RB Giovani Bernard ($3,000)
Chubb could easily explode for the biggest game, so we’re comfortable giving him the C. Let’s attach Hunt to him and also go for the OBJ big play at home in prime time. To balance it out, expect Burrow to throw often and make Boyd his go-to guy. Bernard gives a part of the backfield as an extension of Mixon in trail mode with what money have left.