Bengals vs Ravens Fantasy Start/Sit: Zay Flowers, Trenton Irwin, Keaton Mitchell, More
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Trenton Irwin (left) and Tyler Boyd.
Bengals vs. Ravens, the best Thursday Night Football matchup of the 2023 NFL season, unsurprisingly has an abundance of fantasy football star power.
The Ravens have averaged 32.2 points per game over the last five weeks while the Bengals have returned to offensive juggernaut status with a healthy Joe Burrow.
Getting the obvious out of the way: Burrow and Lamar Jackson are clear-cut fantasy starters. Cincinnati has a 66% pass rate, the second highest in the NFL, and Burrow has accounted for multiple touchdowns in five consecutive games.
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The Ravens have the top defense in the league this season, allowing only 4.2 yards per play, but even a hobbled Burrow was able to account for 200-plus yards and two scores against them in Week 2. The Ravens might also be without their top corner, Marlon Humphrey, which is a significant loss considering his potential matchup with Ja’Marr Chase.
As for the Ravens offense, I expect a very efficient performance that will see them consistently move the ball into the red zone. The Bengals have the No. 29 rush defense, according to DVOA. The Ravens' versatile rushing attack will tax a defense that gives up an explosive rush on 16.6% of attempts (the most in football).
Jackson has averaged 67 rushing yards per game in his last three meetings with the Bengals, and with Cincy's inability to get stops on third down, I expect the spike week from Jackson that we've all been waiting for.
As for pass-catchers, Ja’Marr Chase and Mark Andrews should obviously be locked into starting lineups. Andrews especially has a favorable matchup as the Bengals rank 30th in yards per target allowed to the tight end position.
As for the rest of the skill-position players in Bengals vs. Ravens, I will run through them below as I try to assist you in making the best decisions possible for your lineups in Week 11.
Bengals Week 11 Start/Sit
If you drafted Mixon somewhere in Rounds 3-5, he's delivering exactly what you were hoping for: consistent usage and top-15 performance in all fantasy formats.
He's hit paydirt in three consecutive games, so it's quite unlikely you have two running backs on your roster who are a better bet than Mixon. He totaled 95 yards in the Week 2 meeting, so this matchup shouldn’t scare you away.
Lock Mixon into your lineup as a quality RB2 once again.
Boyd is coming off his best game of the season despite dropping a crucial touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Texans.
He has 15 receptions in the two games Tee Higgins has missed, thus Boyd's involvement in the offense remains a safe bet. In fact, according to Sharp Football, Boyd has run 135 routes with Higgins sidelined, and he’s received a 23.7% target share on those particular routes.
Boyd is a high-floor play in full-PPR and needs to be in your lineup. In half-PPR formats, I consider him more of a WR3/flex play against a defense allowing a league-low 5.9 yards per target to opposing wide receivers.
You may be surprised to see this name, but Irwin is a major factor when Tee Higgins is out of the lineup. Irwin has only played more than 50 snaps twice this season — those were both games Higgins missed.
Irwin had 10 targets and eight receptions on 62 snaps in Week 5, and then he had two catches for 54 yards and a touchdown on 52 snaps in Week 10. Irwin finished as a top-25 player at the position in both of those weeks.
Any receiver with an 80% route participation — and tied to Joe Burrow — needs to be in consideration for a spot start. I consider Irwin a flex play and I would start him over the likes of Elijah Moore, Quentin Johnston and Jahan Dotson.
Ravens Week 11 Start/Sit
Edwards has reached the end zone (on the ground) in four straight games and now sits at RB18 on the season in half-PPR.
The Ravens backfield is turning into a three-way committee, with Edwards leading the way with only 28 snaps and 12 total opportunities (carries and targets). It undoubtedly feels uncomfortable playing a running back who doesn’t get a full workload and lacks the receiving upside to secure a weekly floor — however, Edwards is in one of the better matchups he will get all season, and he is the main running back near the goal line.
Edwards has seen exactly 50% of Baltimore's carries inside the five-yard line. Justice Hill, who is becoming more of the third option in this backfield, has only seen 15% of the workload inside the five. Edwards is the most trusted option for the Ravens when the game is close, and in all likelihood, this game is going to remain close for the duration.
In a week with three of the top running backs on bye, Edwards ranks as a strong RB2 play.
Starting Mitchell will not be for the faint of heart.
He has played only 27 total snaps over the last two weeks, but his explosiveness is off the charts when it comes to forcing missed tackles and creating yards after contact. As mentioned, no team allows explosive runs at a higher rate than the Bengals — they have surrendered 33 rushes of 10 yards or more this season. In total, the Bengals defense gives up 7.9 explosive plays per game, and we saw a designed Mitchell screen go for 32 yards a week ago.
Mitchell is only a flex play, but one I am willing to take a chance on in half-PPR formats. In full-PPR, the safer route will be to play a receiver with a more stable volume of receptions.
With that said, we are one game away from Mitchell potentially being an every week starter, if and when his workload increases.
While Odell Beckham Jr. has scored in each of the last two weeks, Flowers is the only Ravens wideout I rank inside the top 50 at the position this week.
Flowers has a few near misses this year on deep balls that would have changed the narrative around him in fantasy football. Regardless, if you take away the Ravens’ drubbing of Seattle — in which the passing game was rendered nonexistent — Flowers has averaged 7.4 targets per game and is producing at a pace that would see him finish his rookie season with 92 receptions.
Flowers and Mark Andrews account for almost exactly one-quarter of Baltimore's receiving yards each. Better days are ahead for the rookie wide receiver if he and Jackson connect on throws down the field.
The usage has been there, but the execution and timing just needs a little polishing. I am willing to keep Flowers in my lineup this week solidly in the WR3 range.