The Cleveland Browns smothered the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday in a critical AFC North matchup, holding Andy Dalton and company to just one field goal in a 24-3 victory. Neither offense was particularly effective, but it was the complete collapse of Cincinnati’s passing attack that was most alarming in this contest. Dalton completed just 10 of 33 passes for 86 yards and a three-pack of interceptions as the Bengals were shut down throughout the entire game. The Cincinnati quarterback has now thrown nine interceptions on the season along with just eight touchdown passes and has failed to throw for a score in four of nine games this season. Running back Jeremy Hill couldn't quite repeat his impressive Week 9 performance, but was serviceable with 55 yards on 12 carries (4.6 yards per carry). Hill should be able to safely hold onto a sizeable portion of the Bengals running work even after Giovani Bernard returns.
The most notable fantasy situation on the Cleveland Browns side of the ball revolved around their ground game, as Ben Tate and rookies Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell combined for 48 carries on Thursday. Cleveland is now leading the NFL in rushing attempts per game (33.3/gm), but it’s how these attempts are divided that piques the interest of fantasy footballers. On Thursday, it was Terrance West leading the charge as he handled 26 carries, compared to 12 for Isaiah Crowell and 10 for Ben Tate. All three backs saw middling results on the evening, but both rookies looked notably quicker than Tate when given opportunities. All three Cleveland backs did find the end zone however, so no real goal line back preference has emerged at this juncture. Each of these running backs should still reside safely on fantasy rosters, but West appears to Mike Pettine’s favorite heading into Week 11.
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Browns at Bengals Quick Slants
No Cincinnati player caught more than three passes on Thursday, with Jermaine Gresham and A.J. Green leading the way with just three grabs each. … Miles Austin was the leader of the Browns receiving group as he caught five of six targets for 48 yards. Quarterback Brian Hoyer looked for Austin along with Taylor Gabriel (five targets) and Travis Benjamin (five targets) during this game as Andrew Hawkins (thigh/knee) was inactive. … A.J. Green and Mohamed Sanu were the most heavily impacted players during Andy Dalton’s inaccurate meltdown on Thursday as the duo combined to catch just five of 17 targets on the night.
In Other News…
Denver running back Montee Ball (groin) made news on Thursday as he checked in at Broncos practice noticeably lighter than he was before missing time with a groin injury. Ball is reportedly down to 212 pounds after playing at 224 prior to the injury and should regain some quickness with the new weight loss. While the now thinner Montee Ball would appear primed to regain his starting role upon his return, Ball did admit on Thursday that Ronnie Hillman will and should remain the starter moving forward. When Ball does return to the Denver backfield, which could be this week, Hillman will likely still receive the bulk of the work with Ball taking over Juwan Thompson’s short yardage role. Thompson and C.J. Anderson will both drop down a notch and find themselves in fantasy free agency.
The Adrian Peterson saga continued on Thursday, with the NFL informing the Minnesota star running back that his case will be “reviewed for potential discipline.” The end result in this situation could range anywhere from Peterson playing in Week 11 to a suspension being handed down by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. In the meantime, Peterson should be owned in 100% of fantasy leagues as even the slightest chance that Peterson could be added for the fantasy playoffs is easily worth a bench spot.
Rashad Jennings (knee) missed practice on Wednesday, but did take scout-team reps on Thursday as the New York Giants prepare to take on the Seattle Seahawks. Jennings is still unlikely to play on Sunday, but a Week 11 return for a home date with San Francisco is certainly likely. The struggling Giants could use a boost from their top running back, as rookie Andre Williams has averaged just 2.9 yards per carry over New York’s last four games and offers next to nothing as a receiver. Patience is a valuable tool for fantasy owners, so don’t throw in the towel on Jennings quite yet.
News and Notes
Tampa Bay coach Love Smith expects rookie running back Charles Sims (ankle) to be active on Sunday as the Bucs take on the Atlanta Falcons. If Doug Martin (ankle) does indeed sit out, it will be Sims and Bobby Rainey carrying the load for Tampa Bay. … Fred Jackson (groin) has practiced this week but Buffalo coach Doug Marrone announced that Jackson isn’t ready to return to game action yet. Anthony Dixon will be the lead Bills back again on Sunday. … Julio Jones declared himself “100 percent” on Thursday after dealing with an ankle injury for most of the season. Jones should return to WR1 form this week against Tampa Bay.
Injury Quick Slants
Both Pierre Thomas (shoulder) and Khiry Robinson (forearm) missed practice on Thursday and look likely to miss Week 10. Mark Ingram and Travaris Cadet will handle the New Orleans running back duties again on Sunday. … Marshawn Lynch (calf) missed practice on Thursday but doesn’t appear to be in danger of missing Week 10. … Lamar Miller (shoulder) was limited on Thursday but should be good to start on Sunday in a tough matchup with Detroit. … Sammy Watkins (groin) is day to day as the weekend approaches. Keep an eye on his status on Sunday morning. … Tony Romo (back) was limited but did practice on Thursday as he attempts to return to the field on Sunday. A matchup with Jacksonville awaits Romo and the Cowboys.