October 7, 2023, 11:16 am
Cincinnati Bengals (1-3) @ Arizona Cardinals (1-3) Best Lines Available
Bengals (-160) @ Cardinals (+142): O/U 44.5 (-110)
Bengals -3.0 (-110), Cardinals +3 (-105)
Bet: 6-6 +0.4u
Lean: 3-5 -1.27u
An unexpected, slow start from the Bengals due in no small part to QB Joe Burrow’s calf injury has left them in what feels like a must-win game early in the year. The team started slow last year, but the uphill climb is as daunting as ever for a team with back to back division wins and AFCCG visits. On the other hand, the Cardinals were expected to be one of the weakest links in the NFL this year and while the record still reflects that, they have been able to keep their games competitive and exciting, giving fans hope for the team’s next chapter.
Main Storylines to Watch
Will Ja’Marr Chase be able to survive as a fantasy asset if the Bengals continue to struggle? If not for his big name, Chase fits the bill as the ultimate buy-low target. The draft capital invested in Chase in this year’s fantasy drafts likely sees managers struggling and in need of a shakeup, but also viewing Chase’s inevitable turnaround as their biggest potential savior. It is not unheard of for good teams to have an off year due to injury and then restock in the draft, think 2020 49ers, but are the Bengals in that much danger or is this just a bump in the road for a star QB/WR duo?
Is Josh Dobbs a surefire start now, or will the film catch up with him? Every year there are surprise fantasy contributors who nobody saw coming and Josh Dobbs seems to be the man for the job this year. He has always had the rushing upside that is that helping him produce, but he looks sharp in the passing game as well. Will defensive coordinators catch on to what the Cardinals are up to and shut it down, or can he be trusted to keep things going all year?
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Josh Dobbs: Dobbs has come through now against the two toughest opponents in the league in consecutive weeks, the Cowboys and 49ers respectively. He appears, for the moment, to be matchup proof for fantasy and I think everyone should be tired of missing out. The Bengals defense has limited QB scoring so far, but Dobbs has shown he can get the job done on his legs and through the air. This may be the last call for the hype train on Dobbs and missing the final opportunity could prove costly, especially in Superflex leagues.
James Conner: Conner was slowed down a bit by the 49ers last week, but it was nothing much more than a bump in the road for a player who has returned great value for his draft position. The offense has been clicking lately and Conner is a big part of that. He carries huge TD upside as a strong bruiser back, with his only real competition being Dobbs’s ability to run one in at the goal line. I think we can start Conner with confidence here, especially with options limited in the first week of byes.
Marquise Brown: Hollywood has produced outside of a slow Week 1 and has a safe volume floor now that even without a score last week, he provided a great fantasy line. If he continues to see around 10 targets like he has in half of his games, it will be hard to leave Hollywood on the bench. Dobbs clearly likes him, so as long as the connection is working, we can fire it up and feel pretty good.
Michael Wilson: The rookie WR got involved heavily in the loss to San Francisco. He possesses a different skillset compared to that of the other receivers for Arizona as the big bodied receiver he is, helping him to carve out his own role and not need to compete directly with some of the other names we have come to know in fantasy like Greg Dortch. He had not seen much volume outside of last week’s seven targets and it is tough to say whether that was due to a wildly negative game script that saw Dobbs throwing 41 passes, by far his most of the year. Wilson is certainly worth keeping an eye on and could be scooped up to see if he can continue to impress as he gets settled in for his rookie year.
Zach Ertz: Ertz was productive against the 49ers and saw 10 targets in the blowout loss. His six receptions for 53 yards was similar to his Week 1 performance, which was great to see. It seems there is room in this offense for Ertz, especially when the Cardinals are playing catchup, and he is worth a roster spot. There was concern that an injury would keep him out of Week 4, but he made it back and produced. It would not be ideal to be forced into starting Ertz on a weekly basis, but it could certainly be worse.
Joe Burrow: Evaluation of Joey Franchise has been difficult as he looks to be clearly limited by the calf injury suffered during the offseason, but continues to claim it has not hampered his accuracy, but just his mobility. Burrow is not the type who likes to make excuses, but his deep ball has been off and the lack of movement has left him scared in the pocket on many occasions. It felt like he was trending in the right direction until last week the Titans held him to a mere 165 yards passing in a beatdown loss. We know Burrow is capable of being a top QB in fantasy, but for now it is going to be risky to trot him out there every week. Fantasy managers should exercise caution likely until after the Bengals Week 7 bye.
Joe Mixon: Mixon was the only member of the offense who seemed to be capable of moving the ball during Titans game. Averaging 4.8 yards per carry was nice to see as the Bengals need to find some way to discourage pass rush on their hobbled QB. In weeks past as well, when the Bengals do not abandon the run game, the offense looks much better. Mixon has a floor value to him that makes him startable and with the Bengals feeling like they have their backs against the wall, I expect the offense to be more productive than last week.
Ja’Marr Chase: The best game of the year for Cincinnati saw Ja’Marr Chase with 15 targets and 141 yards, perhaps the best option is to put the ball in their best player’s hands. Even in the bad games, Chase has been receiving enough volume to start, we have just only seen the overall WR2 type production the one time and he is yet to find the end zone. Nevertheless, Chase should be started and it is only a matter of time before he has another huge performance, especially while running-mate Tee Higgins deals with a rib injury.
Tee Higgins: Higgins is questionable to play on Sunday with a rib injury after a boom or bust start to the season that has seen many more busts. It would be just like him to have a monster performance this week when there is so much doubt circling, but that is part of the game we play as Higgins managers. Starting him feels riskier than ever with potentially rough QB play and an offense that desperately needs to get back on track. As far as lottery tickets go, he may be one of the best options and could help you recover if you had the displeasure of facing a Fields/Moore stack on Thursday night.
Irv Smith Jr.: Smith Jr. has not been involved much in the offense and should not be considered a startable asset. The TE role has not been prioritized at all in the passing game for Cincinnati to start the year.
PLEASE NOTE: This is intended for entertainment purposes. This is not intended as gambling advice. If you are looking for gambling advice from professionals, please sign up for the SportsEthos WagerPass. These are the thoughts of our fantasy football division experts, and some are sure to be better than others.
l know what I am getting myself into by diving all the way in on Joshua Dobbs this week, but it is a risk I am willing to live and die by. Dobbs will face, on paper, his easiest matchup in three weeks. I do, however think the Cardinals defense will be vulnerable and the do-or-die nature of the matchup for Cincinnati will push them to cover.
BET: Cincinnati Bengals MoneyLine (-160) (1.6u to win 1u) (Bet365)
BET: Joe Mixon Over 68.5 Rushing Yards (-114) (1.14u to win 1u) (FanDuel)
BET: Over 44.5 (-110) (1.1u to win 1u) (Bet365)
BET: Joshua Dobbs Anytime TD Scorer (+270) 1u to win 2.7u (FanDuel)
BET: Joshua Dobbs Over 214.5 Passing Yards (-114) 1.14u to win 1u (FanDuel)