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The Browns travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens in a Thursday night matchup. We break down the fantasy football sit/start implications.
Cam Cameron's offense in Baltimore is producing some big numbers for fantasy owners in 2012. Meanwhile, the Browns continue to struggle to find consistent contributors on that side of the ball.
Cleveland doesn't have many names you really feel confident about starting each week. Trent Richardson is the only offensive player owned in 100 percent of fantasy leagues, so that should tell you something. The Ravens, though, possess several playmakers who are always must-starts.
We'll break down the rest of the fantasy matchups in the NFL later on, but let's go ahead and look at who you should have locked into your lineup on Thursday night, and who should take a seat on the bench this week.
Brandon Weeden, quarterback - The rookie has been up and down in three games. After finishing with nearly with worst quarterback rating one can possibly achieve in Week 1, he came out firing the following game against the Bengals, throwing for 322 yards and two touchdowns. Last week against the Bills was still not worthy of any fantasy recognition. Don't invest much stock in him this week. A first-year quarterback, on the road, on national television, against the Ravens. That doesn't look like a formula for success, regardless of how Baltimore's secondary looked the past two weeks.
Trent Richardson, running back - Stopping the run hasn't been easy for the Ravens in 2012. They allowed 91 yards and a touchdown to The Law Firm in Week 1, and then another solid performance from LeSean McCoy after that. New England couldn't get it going on the ground this past Sunday night, so things could be turning around. Richardson didn't put up big numbers last week, but he did find the end zone for his owners. Baltimore has allowed four rushing touchdowns to running backs, so Richardson has a good chance of repeating this trend, especially in garbage time if the Ravens are way out in front.
Greg Little and Josh Gordon, wide receiver - Starting a Browns receiver right now is like playing the lottery. Maybe you'll get lucky with a touchdown one week, but you don't get your hopes up. Mohamed Massaquoi is out, and Little didn't win his head coach over by repeating his dropped pass woes last week. Gordon is third among wideouts in targets on the Browns, so he'll likely see more action against the Ravens. If you are starting a receiver among this group, good luck.
Benjamin Watson and Jordan Cameron, tight end - Watson led the team in targets with eight in Week 3. Unfortunately he only hauled in half of those for a measly 15 yards. Cameron was second in targets with seven, and he finished with four receptions for 45 yards. Again, it's hard to trust either player here with Weeden throwing the ball in Pat Shurmur's offense. The Ravens also kept Rob Gronkowski in check several days ago. You can do better at tight end.
Browns defense/special teams - The Browns rank 27th in pass defense, 23rd in run defense and 18th in points allowed per game. One plus, though, is the fact that they lead the AFC in takeaways (7). Baltimore is averaging nearly 33 points per game and has only turned the ball over three times in three games. Are you still considering starting the Brows D/ST? You probably shouldn't be.
Joe Flacco, quarterback - Joe Haden is still out on suspension, and the Browns' secondary is getting torn apart right now. Andy Dalton looked like a superstar two weeks ago, which bodes well for Flacco's value this week. He didn't put up big numbers against his divisional foe last year, but he looks like a new man in 2012. Roll with Flacco this week. The only concern you should have is that Rice dominates to the point where Flacco doesn't even need to throw the ball.
Ray Rice, running back - Rice rushed for 291 yards in two games against Cleveland in 2011. He looks like he's in for another outstanding fantasy year in 2012. Tashard Choice rushed for 91 yards on 20 carries against Cleveland last week. Do I need to say more? Who cares if it's the Browns, why would anyone ever sit Rice?
Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin, wide receiver - We all witnessed Smith break out for the second-best performance of his career on Sunday after the death of his brother that morning. It was truly inspiring to watch him go and and give it his all. Hopefully the Ravens realize how much of a weapon he can be every week now. He's the biggest weapon in Flacco's arsenal. Boldin put in a solid performance in Week 1, but it appears his fantasy value is fleeting. Both could have good weeks against a dismal Browns defense, but Smith is the one who you should trust.
Dennis Pitta, tight end - Pitta has 30 targets in three games, 10 more than anyone on his team. You should be starting him every week until he proves otherwise. The Browns fared well against opposing tight ends in the first three weeks of the season, but Pitta is a huge target for Flacco, and he continues to see plenty of looks each week. Start him.
Ravens defense/special teams - Their opponent in Week 4 has only scored five offensive touchdowns in three weeks. Sure, the Ravens don't wield the same, dominant defense we're accustomed to witnessing. It's the Browns, though. It's tough to sit any defense against them.
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