CLE-CIN fantasy preview: Johnny Manziel time?

Heeeeeeeere's Johnny! That's right, with Josh McCown battling a rib injury Johnny Manziel will start for the Browns. Is he worth deploying for your fantasy team or in DFS against the stout Cincinnati Bengals defense? Find out the answer and more in our Thursday Night Football fantasy preview below.

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals, 8:25 p.m. ET on NFL Network


Don't. Just don't. Unless you're going YOLO in DFS for the minimum priced quarterback, you do not want to start a guy who has been sacked seven times, fumbled four times and thrown an interception in a mere 63 drop backs this season (h/t Raymond Summerlin).

The only, and we mean ONLY, potential fantasy starter of this group is Duke Johnson, and his best value comes in PPR formats. From Weeks 5 through 7, Johnson owned almost 18 percent of the team's targets -- a huge number for a running back. That dipped in Week 8 when he only saw two targets, though he turned those two into two catches for 68 yards. This is why he has some upside, especially in PPR formats, while the likes of Robert Turbin and Isaiah Crowell will battle it out for the honor of "Who can post the lower yards per attempt total?" Our guess is Turbin this week, but in either case you aren't starting the likes of these two.

After posting 10 or more targets in every week from Week 3 to Week 7, Benjamin has only managed seven catches for 73 yards and no touchdowns on 13 targets the last two weeks. Part of that was tough matchups, as the Browns faced the Rams and Cardinals, but he had beaten tough opponents before (see his nine-catch, 117-yard game against Denver for proof). We'd like Benjamin a lot more if Josh McCown was starting this game, but with Johnny Football under center, Benjamin is a fringe WR3 at best. If you need hope for starting him, Brown's best fantasy game of the year did come with Manziel under center (Week 2), so there's that.

No tight end has scored more fantasy points over the last four weeks than the Barn Yard Dog. We're not as thrilled at his prospects this week with Manziel under center, as the two never seemed to be on the same page early in the season and they're facing the stingy Bengals defense (allowing 6.63 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends). However, given Barnidge's recent run of success, and the volatility at the tight end position, owners will be hard-pressed to sit him.


The anti-Andy Dalton truthers will be quick to say last week was the end of his magnificent run to start the season, but in all honesty it was just a bad game. Dalton has still been playing at the highest level of his career, and struggled in a divisional game against a defense that has been playing better of late (fewer than 17 fantasy points allowed to QBs in each of the last three weeks). We still believe in Dalton and expect him to rebound back to QB1 levels against the Browns this week.

Green has had some up-and-down weeks this season, but he has clearly been the No. 1 target in this passing attack. He's impossible to sit against a team that has allowed the seventh-most receiving yards to opposing wideouts and an average of 1.1 fantasy points per target (18th in the league). Considering Green has received an average of almost 9.5 targets per game, he's a safe bet for solid fantasy production.

Eifert emerged as the second option in the Bengals passing attack this season, and as such, only provided two disappointing fantasy weeks -- last week against the Steelers, and his goose egg in Week 3 when he had a touchdown called back on a baffling "catch rule" call. He's one of the league's elite red zone threats, and can be safely started as a TE1 this week against the Browns given his upside and usage in the offense.

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