The Worksheet, a fantasy football overview by Rich Hribar, breaking down everything you need to know for the Wild Card Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals Saturday afternoon game.
|41.89%||16||Opp. Rush %||37.86%||4|
|58.11%||17||Opp. Pass %||62.14%||29|
Against the Spread
Bengals ATS at Home: 4-5
Raiders ATS Away: 4-4
Bengals ATS as Favorite: 4-4
Raiders ATS as Underdog: 7-4
This is the first of five regular season rematches that will take place Wild Card Weekend. Sorry, that is Super Wild Card Weekend.
These teams met in Week 11, with the Bengals winning in Las Vegas 32-13. The game was relatively close for three quarters with the Bengals leading 10-6 at the half and 13-6 entering the final quarter. The Raiders even made it 16-13 with 11 minutes to go in the game before Cincinnati scored the final 16 points to close things out.
Despite hanging around longer than the final score suggests that lopsided end game still does not put the Raiders in a favorable position historically. Since 2008, playoff rematches between non-division in which a team lost by 17 or more points have favored the winner in the postseason. Those teams that lost in the regular season are 3-15 (8-10 ATS) in the rematch with 13 straight losses. The last win under those circumstances was the 2012 Ravens at the Broncos.
The Raiders won their final four games to get into the dance but are also a team littered with a checkered resume, just as you would expect a No. 7 seed to have. Las Vegas has scored a touchdown on 16.5% (17-of-103) of their drives since their Week 8 bye, ahead of only the Panthers, Texans, Falcons, Jaguars, and Giants over that span.
Las Vegas enters the postseason with a 37.4% third down conversion rate (22nd) and 51.7% red zone conversion rate (26th), both the worst marks of any postseason team. They also have allowed an 81.4% red zone conversion rate on defense, the league’s highest rate.
Another interesting component of this game is that the Bengals averaged the league’s fewest penalty yards per game (36.5) while the Raiders averaged the most (64.9).
If the Bengals have a legitimate wart to show up here, it is that they have allowed 4.5 sacks plus turnovers per game, 28th in the league and the most per game among all of the playoff teams.
Joe Burrow: Burrow hits the postseason coming off back-to-back massive games in which he completed 67-of-85 passes (78.8%) for 971 yards (11.4 Y/A) and eight touchdown passes to zero interceptions against the Ravens and Chiefs. We have highlighted how incredible Burrow has been against the blitz this season and those teams did not get the memo, sending extra rushers his way on 35.3% of his dropbacks. This after Burrow was blitzed on just 16.1% of his dropbacks, the lowest rate in the NFL over the previous seven games.
We will not see that here. The Raiders blitz at the league’s lowest rate (12.1%) and only blitzed on Burrow on 3-of-35 dropbacks when these teams played in Week 11. In that game, Burrow threw for a season-low 5.1 yards per pass attempt with just 9.9 passing points for fantasy, his third-fewest in a game this season.
No team plays more Cover 3 than the Raiders at 66.7% (the next closest team is at 43.8%). Burrow was fifth in the NFL with a 104.9 passer rating against Cover 3 in the regular season, but it did help him when these teams played. Against Cover 3 in that game, Burrow was 11-of-14 for 75 yards (5.4 Y/A). The Raiders are surely going to provide another approach where they make Burrow check down and throw underneath heavily while playing coverage and hoping their front can create pressure.
The Bengals have been ultra-aggressive in their past two games against the Ravens and Chiefs, but I do believe this will be a game where they try to run the ball and exploit the biggest weakness of the Raiders defense. Burrow is on a hot streak and is attached to a strong team total at home here. The Raiders also still allowed 15.9 passing points per game (27th) to passers. I do see a more balanced approach and less of a ceiling game from a fantasy perspective as a probable outcome for Burrow, but he is at worst the second-best quarterback available on Saturday-only slates with plenty of upside to pace the position the opening day of the postseason.
Derek Carr: Carr has struggled since the Week 8 bye, posting just two QB1 scoring weeks over those eight games with 7.0 yards per pass attempt and eight games with one or fewer touchdown passes. That includes completing 19-of-27 passes for 215 yards and one touchdown (8.6 fantasy points) when these teams met in Week 11. The Bengals pressured Carr on 40% of his dropbacks in that game, the eighth-highest rate that week.
Cincinnati has allowed multiple touchdown passes in five of their past six games with four QB1 scoring games over that span to keep the lights on, but Carr is pedestrian fantasy play on the weekend, best suited for Saturday only DFS and single-game stacking.
Joe Mixon: Mixon rushed for 65 yards or fewer in each of his final five games to close the season, but the Bengals did show signs of life in using him in the passing game to close the year. Mixon posted lines of 6-70-1 and 7-40-0 on 14 targets in his final two games after receiving eight total targets the previous five weeks.
When these teams met in Week 11, Mixon handled a season-high 30 carries, rushing for 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was not targeted in the game, part of that up-and-down target usage we are used to getting. Despite the strong rushing production in the first meeting, we still want those targets in the final two weeks to be sticky. In the seven games Mixon caught just more than two passes, he averaged 26.3 PPR points per game as opposed to 11.6 per game otherwise.
This is a matchup to feature Mixon as a home favorite, too. The Raiders have been beaten up by backfields all season, allowing 15.1 rushing points (25th) to go along with 12.1 receiving points (28th) per game to opposing backfields. The Raiders have also allowed 23 touchdowns (30th) to opposing backs. Mixon is the top fantasy back on paper this weekend.
Josh Jacobs: Jacobs closed the year with his best game of the season on Sunday night, rushing 26 times for 132 yards and a score while adding 12 yards through the air on a pair catches. Jacobs has 20-plus touches in each of the past three games with 19.7 touches per game over his past 10.
When these teams played in Week 11, Jacobs only rushed nine times for 37 yards, catching 5-of-7 targets for 24 yards. Through the air is where the Bengals have been the most vulnerable to backs, allowing 6.4 catches per game (28th) to the position to go along with 11.9 receiving points per game (27th). They only allowed one 100-yard rusher since their Week 10 bye, and that was D’Ernest Johnson last weekend in a throwaway game. Jacobs is a volume-based fantasy option, with fragility tied to a road underdog.
Ja’Marr Chase: Chase put a bow on an elite rookie season by setting a franchise record with 1,455 yards receiving, catching 81 passes and 13 scores to go along with all of the yardage gained. When these teams played in Week 11, Chase caught 3-of-6 targets for 32 yards and a touchdown.
Chase did the majority of his fantasy damage downfield this season, an area in which the Raiders try to limit. Chase posted 127.8 fantasy points on targets 15-yards or further downfield, which trailed only Tyler Lockett this season. Eight of his touchdowns came on those targets, which led the NFL. The Raiders allowed just a 32.7% completion rate on those targets this season (fifth in the league) while also allowing 7.3 yards per target (sixth) and a 3.8% touchdown rate (sixth) to opposing wide receivers in totality. Chase is still a top receiver talent in play this weekend, but he will be more touchdown driven this weekend.
Tee Higgins: Higgins is coming off a 74-1,091-6 line on 110 targets in 14 games in his second season. He came on strong over the second half of the year. Recovering from an early season torn labrum, Higgins hit 100-yards in four of his final six games of the season.
His worst game of the year did come when these teams played in Week 11, with Higgins catching 2-of-3 targets for 15 yards. That is a low bar to clear in the rematch. Despite that poor performance in the first matchup, against Cover 3 with all three wideouts active since his injury, Higgins matched Chase with a team-high 29 targets, catching a team-high 21 catches and 16 first downs, posting a 21-295-1 line on those looks.
The Raiders only allowed three WR1 scoring weeks all season to cast a shadow on Higgins paired with his output in the first matchup, but two of those games were posted by Mike Williams and Courtland Sutton, two similarly bodied wideouts to keep the lights on.
Hunter Renfrow: Renfrow posted just 161 yards over his final four games with four or fewer catches in three of those games, but he found the end zone in each of the past three games to aid his fantasy production. Renfrow found the end zone nine times this season after scoring six times his first two seasons in the league.
In the 10 full games Darren Waller has played, Renfrow has seen 7.0 targets per game (19.6% of the total team targets) with a game-high of 77 receiving yards. In his other eight games, Renfrow has averaged 8.3 targets per game (23.8%) for 79.9 yards per game.
When these teams met in Week 11, Renfrow secured all four of his targets for 30 yards, which was part of the sample with Waller on the field. The positive news is that Renfrow has scored six of his touchdowns with Waller on the field. The Bengals also do offer some matchup appeal despite the first meeting, ranking 23rd in points allowed per game (11.9) to opposing slot wide receivers.
Tyler Boyd: Boyd enters the postseason with a touchdown in each of his past three games, the longest streak of his career. Those scores have helped him out as the third wheel since he has seen 17.0% of the team targets since the Week 10 bye.
Boyd did receive 28.6% of the team targets when these teams played earlier in the season, which was the second-highest target share that he had in a game with all three wideouts active this season, catching 6-of-8 targets for 49 yards. We know what we have in Boyd as a low-ceiling play without a touchdown, but his role in the offense can lead to receptions against a heavy zoned-based defense.
Zay Jones: Jones has 42 targets over the past five weeks, catching five or more passes in all five of those games. Receiving 24.9% of the targets over that stretch, the emergence of Jones in the offense has also played a role in the decreased target share Renfrow has seen to close the year outside of his splits with Darren Waller active or not.
Jones has still only posted more than 50 receiving yards in two of those five games and has not found the end zone since Week 1, so he still comes with plenty of volatility himself despite the increased usage. The Bengals did allow production to opposing wideouts, allowing a 65.7% catch rate (27th) and 8.0 yards per target (18th) to the position.
Darren Waller: Waller returned on Sunday night for the first time since Thanksgiving. Waller only secured two passes for 22 yards, but he played 78% of the snaps, ran a route on 92.5% of the team dropbacks, and received a team-high nine targets in his return.
Waller posted a season-high 116 yards on seven catches when these teams played earlier in the season. The Bengals were vulnerable to tight ends this season, allowing a 72.7% catch rate (26th), 8.2 yards per target (27th), and a 6.1% touchdown rate (22nd) to the position to provide matchup appeal on top of Waller’s usage in his return to the field.
C.J. Uzomah: Uzomah has seen a slight target bump to close the season, receiving 15% or more of the team targets in each of the past five games after hitting that rate in just one of his opening 11 games this season. The increased looks have resulted in just 162 yards over that span, but any tight end getting targets can be used as a punt play in small DFS slates. The Raiders did allow 10 touchdowns to tight ends this season (30th) to provide a glimmer of hope that Uzomah could find the end zone for the first time since Week 7.
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