Monday Night Football
Baltimore @ Cleveland
Ravens-Browns has a 41-point game total -- lowest of Week 12 -- with host Cleveland favored by three. The Browns' team total is 22 points. ... Off-the-field transgressions cost Johnny Manziel Cleveland's starting job, thrusting Josh McCown back into first-string duties against the Ravens. With the obvious disclaimer that it's come against Blake Bortles and Case Keenum, Baltimore's pass defense has stiffened since its Week 9 bye, holding the Jaguars and Rams to a combined 34-of-71 passing (47.9%), 324 yards (4.56 YPA), and a 3:1 TD-to-INT ratio in Weeks 11-12. The sample on Baltimore's improvement is still far too small to disqualify McCown as a QB1 streamer, but it's worth noting for the stretch run. McCown finished as the overall QB1 when he faced the Ravens in Week 5. Baltimore has yielded multiple touchdown passes in 7-of-10 games this year. ... The matchup is much tougher for Cleveland's tailbacks against a Ravens defense holding opposing RBs to 3.61 yards per carry with just four rushing scores allowed in ten games. Baltimore has held Jaguars and Rams backs to 128 yards and one touchdown on 45 carries (2.84 YPC) since the open date. Isaiah Crowell isn't on the Week 12 fantasy radar. Duke Johnson's touch totals before the Browns' Week 11 bye were 3, 5, 8.
McCown's target distribution this season: Travis Benjamin 56; Gary Barnidge 54; Johnson 34; Taylor Gabriel 28; Andrew Hawkins 25; Brian Hartline 22; Crowell 9. ... Barnidge's fantasy floor is raised considerably with a more stable pocket passer under center. Barnidge dropped an 8-139-1 stat line on the Ravens in Week 5 and is a top-five fantasy tight end play this week. Not including the Week 5 game, Barnidge's receiving lines in McCown's last five starts are 6-105-1, 6-75-1, 3-39-2, 6-101, and 7-53-1. ... Benjamin (6-83) also had a productive Week 5 against Baltimore, and should be plugged into season-long fantasy lineups as a WR2 with low-end WR1 upside. Even amid musical chairs at quarterback, Benjamin is the overall WR18 in PPR points.
With Joe Flacco (ACL/MCL) and Justin Forsett (arm) out for the season, we can make quick work of the Ravens' offense, which has a Week 12 team total of just 19 points. Washed-up pick-six machine Matt Schaub's under-center presence creates a dangerously low floor for all of Baltimore's pass catchers and puts Cleveland's defense squarely in play as a D/ST streamer. ... The lone fantasy play of serious intrigue on Baltimore's end is Buck Allen, who took over as the Ravens' workhorse when Forsett exited last week's win over the Rams. Allen wound up logging 27 touches on nearly 70% of the offensive snaps, totaling 115 yards in a tough matchup with St. Louis. On Monday night, Allen projects as a true workhorse against a Browns team that ranks 29th in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA while surrendering 4.82 yards per carry to running backs. So long as Allen holds off Terrance West and Raheem Mostert in Baltimore's backfield, he will be a plug-and-play fantasy RB2 with a low-RB1 ceiling in PPR leagues.
Score Prediction: Browns 24, Ravens 17