Cincinnati Bengals (3-2, 2-3 ATS) at Detroit Lions (0-5, 3-2), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Bengals Stats and Trends
The Bengals have played under the total in four straight games.
Cincinnati is 1-4 ATS in its last five games as a favorite.
The Bengals have played in four games decided by a field goal already this season — they’re 2-2 in those contests.
Joe Burrow got beat up in Week 5, but he topped 20+ FP for the second consecutive game after falling below the mark in his first three games. He’s now thrown for multiple touchdowns in each of his first five games. The Lions have allowed just one passer to reach multiple TD passes in a game after they limited Kirk Cousins to 275/1 passing last week.
Ja’Marr Chase got back to finding the end zone after a one-week layoff. He finished with 6/159/1 receiving on 10 targets against the Packers with his score coming from 70 yards away. He’s now averaging 19.8 YPR and the average distance of his touchdowns is 41.0 yards, with four of his five touchdowns coming from 30+ yards away. His former LSU teammate Justin Jefferson posted 7/124 receiving against the Lions last week.
Tee Higgins went back to being a near full-time player after a two-week layoff for his shoulder injury, running a route on 83% of Burrow’s dropbacks. He managed just 5/32/1 receiving with a two-point conversion on seven targets. Higgins’ aDOT (12.9 to 8.9) and YPR (13.6 to 10.0) have each fallen from 2020 with Chase dominating the downfield looks. The Lions have limited Adam Thielen (2/40 receiving) and Allen Robinson (3/63) in consecutive weeks.
Tyler Boyd fell back to earth with Higgins back in the lineup in Week 5, posting 4/24 receiving on five targets even with Jaire Alexander out of the lineup for the Packers. He’s now fallen below 7 FP in two of his three games with Cincy’s full cast at WR and he’s third in line with a 20% target share. The Lions are giving up the sixth-fewest catches per game (11.4) to WRs this season.
Joe Mixon suffered a low-grade ankle sprain in Week 4 and, for some reason, the Bengals rushed him back to play 19 snaps (28% snap share) against the Packers. His backup, Samaje Perine, was far more effective with 11/59 rushing and 4/24/1 receiving on five targets and 25 routes compared to Mixon’s 10/33/1 rushing and 1/2 receiving on one target and just eight routes. Mixon bailed out his owners with a late touchdown to get to 10.5 FP for the day. Mixon’s workload will likely increase as long as he doesn’t have a setback but, as we’ve seen with Dalvin Cook in recent weeks, it shouldn’t be taken for granted that he’s completely out of the woods just yet. The Lions have given up 100+ rushing yards and 22+ FP to David Montgomery and Alexander Mattison in consecutive games.
Brolley’s Lions Stats and Trends
Detroit is 4-1 ATS in its last five home games.
The Lions are 7-3 toward overs in home games since 2020.
D’Andre Swift has seen his highest snap shares in each of the last two games (73% and 74%), and he’s coming off his third game with 100+ scrimmage yards, 22+ FP, and a touchdown. Swift has 4+ catches and 33+ receiving yards in every game this season. Jamaal Williams has 123 rushing yards (4.6 YPC) over the last two weeks but he has just 2/8 receiving and he’s failed to find the end zone in that span. The Bengals gave up 109 scrimmage yards to Aaron Jones last week, and A.J. Dillon added 79/1 scrimmage.
Jared Goff owns an 0-12 record without Sean McVay as his head coach, and he’s failed to reach 20+ FP in three straight games after doing it twice to open the season. Goff fell below double-digit FP for the second time in three weeks by completing 21/35 passes for 203 yards and one INT in a heartbreaking loss to the Vikings in Week 5. The Bengals are giving up the 10th-fewest FPG (17.8) to QBs this season.
T.J. Hockenson’s production has fallen off a cliff after he hung 16/163/2 receiving in the first two weeks. He muscled out just 8/74 receiving on 13 targets in the last three games while playing through an ankle injury. Hockenson has still run routes on 85% of Goff’s dropbacks the last three weeks. The Bengals have yet to be challenged at TE, facing the third-fewest targets per game (4.8) this season.
Quintez Cephus (collarbone, IR) is done for the season and HC Dan Campbell said this week that Tyrell Williams (concussion, IR) still isn’t close to returning. Amon-Ra St. Brown has 6+ catches in consecutive games, and he’s seen 16 combined targets for 13/135 receiving in that span. St. Brown also ran the most routes for the first time last week with 31, followed by Kalif Raymond (28), KhaDarel Hodge (25), and Trinity Benson (10). Laviska Shenault posted 6/99 receiving as a primary slot WR against the Bengals in Week 4.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 31.5 (31st)
Plays per game: 61.2 (29th)
Pass: 58.4% (21st) | Run: 41.6% (12th)
Pace: 30.5 (26th)
Plays per game: 70.0 (11th)
Pass: 65.3% (7th) | Run: 34.7% (26th)
This is an absolutely brutal game from a projected pace/play level. While the Bengals have been competitive, they are among the most sluggish offenses in the league. Not only are they the second-slowest team in terms of seconds in between snaps and fourth-from-last in plays per game, HC Zac Taylor is infrequently passing when they have a lead. The Bengals are 61% run-heavy when they’re ahead on the scoreboard, which is tied for the league’s highest rate. The Lions are still the only team yet to lead in a game, so if the Bengals get out ahead early, look for Cincy to slow down to a snail’s pace and run the ball a ton. Meanwhile, the Lions have been held to 17 or fewer points in four-straight games and have played towards the under three times in that stretch. Overall, this is the worst game in both adjusted pace and adjusted plays on the Week 6 slate.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Ja’Marr Chase is just straight averaging 20.9 FPG (seventh-highest) with five TDs in his first five NFL games. No window dressing required with that presentation. He ranks inside the top-15 wideouts in YPRR, YPT, and air yards/target. He ranks inside the top-10 in route percentage, air yards/game, and TPR. And he hasn’t required the level of a target share to do his damage that would leave Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins out in the cold. If Chase required further reasoning in favor of exposure, the coverage of Amani Oruwariye on just under half of his reps should do the trick.
The real question is if it’ll be Higgins or Boyd who eats on Sunday. Higgins will see plenty of coverage from ‘21 UDFA Jerry Jacobs. Boyd will work across from AJ Parker out of the slot. Boyd would seem to have the more generous matchup, but we need a larger sample size for predictive reliability.
Don’t buy into the narrative that absences along the O-line have forced T.J. Hockenson to block more in recent weeks. It’s lazy reporting. And untrue. His blocking rates are lower the last two weeks than during the first three weeks. The O-line for Detroit has actually reduced the QB pressure rate by 35% during the last three weeks when Hock’s production plummeted than during the first two weeks when he killed it. However, Hock picked up a knee injury in Week 4 that could explain his dropoff.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
It’s possible to sometimes lose sight of how violent a game football is… and then a guy ends up on the injury report — and in the hospital — with a throat contusion. Bengal QB Joe Burrow is going to play through his injury this week, because of course he is, but he likely isn’t speaking up in too many meetings.
Burrow’s arm isn’t injured, though, and it’s led him to a potential blowup spot for top WR Ja’Marr Chase, in whom we already have so much confidence that we’re ranking him as a top-three option on the entire slate at his position. Nothing about Chase indicates he’s a fluke. Here’s Scott Barrett from Start/Sit with more:
“Ja'Marr Chase totals 98.4 fantasy points, which ranks 7th among all WRs. That's also — behind only Randy Moss (104.7) — the 2nd-most fantasy points by any rookie WR in their first five career games all-time.
What’s most impressive about this is Chase isn’t really seeing good volume. He ranks just 32nd among WRs in XFP (61.4). So, he’s producing like a mid-range WR1 on low-end WR3-levels of volume. And, as such, he’s the No. 1 XFP regression candidate at any position (+37.0).
Although I do think an efficiency regression is coming, I wouldn’t be surprised if he continues to out-perform his expectation at one of the highest rates in the league. After all, is this not the best WR prospect since Julio Jones? And, in any case, there’s no way the regression comes this week.
Although Stefon Diggs leads the league in deep targets, Chase is only one target behind, and he's been far more productive on those deep targets. He leads all WRs in deep receptions (6), deep yards (261), deep touchdowns (4), and fantasy points scored on deep targets (56.1, 57% of his total production). And although Diggs’ matchup against Tennessee is the best-possible matchup for a deep threat, Chase’s matchup against Detroit is the clear No. 2, as Detroit has given up 153.0 receiving YPG (2nd-most) to opposing WRs on deep passes. And Detroit also ranks 6th-worst in fantasy points allowed per target (2.13) to opposing outside WRs.”
I like Tee Higgins and the somewhat disappointing Tyler Boyd this week too, but they take a major backseat to Chase this week for the reasons Scott outlined above. Boyd, especially, seems to be the guy hurt the most by the Chase emergence.
Detroit has been awful against the run, surrendering the 4th-most FPG to opposing RBs. Joe Mixon made it through last week’s game unscathed, though he didn’t look as effective as Samaje Perine. However, Perine ended up on the COVID list this week, so his status must be watched. If Perine can’t go, Mixon is a high-end but volatile RB2 given his ankle injury.
Bengals RB Joe Mixon should get a full workload Sunday, per Zac Taylor.— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) October 15, 2021
We know what to do with Detroit — D’Andre Swift is the only RB to see 5 targets in every game so far, and this backfield rotation kind of resembles the Chargers from a few seasons back when Austin Ekeler was the lightning to Melvin Gordon’s thunder. Jamaal Williams is touchdown dependent, but he should get work if you need a bye-week RB2/FLEX, if he plays with his hip injury. If Williams can’t go, Swift might get 30 touches, but we could also see rookie Jermar Jefferson.
It’s hard to sit a TE with TJ Hockenson’s usage — only Darren Waller has run more routes. But I agree with Wes that his knee injury seems to be limiting him. He is listed as questionable.
T.J. Hockenson and Amani Oruwariye back at practice today. Hockenson has a pretty serious compression sleeve on his right leg.— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) October 14, 2021
No Jamaal Williams or Corey Ballentine.
It appears Penei Sewell is still getting work on the left side, so Decker may still be a week away.
With 8 targets in back-to-back games and 13 receptions over that span, it’s possible Amon-Ra St. Brown is finally emerging as a semi-reliable fantasy option. The Bengals allow 54.7% of their WR production to come from the slot, where St. Brown aligns on most of his snaps. He’s a low-end WR3 option if you need one.