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That was a disappointing opening Thursday game...

Aside from the Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles game featuring a ridiculous number of penalties, it truly boiled down to a defensive battle with little scoring action for fantasy owners. What might be most concerning for owners who have invested in the Atlanta Falcons offense is their continued red zone struggles and lack of playmaking from quarterback Matt Ryan, who threw for 251 yards and an interception. Those who managed to draft Jay Ajayi, however, were extremely happy with his two red zone touchdowns that virtually cemented his status as the Eagles' goal-line back.

Hopefully, Week 2's Thursday night tilt between the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals will prove to be more exciting, with two offenses looking to make tremendous leaps from last year. With the matchup featuring plenty of fantasy-relevant players, there are many critical start/sit decisions to be made that could win you your week. Let's dive into this week's Thursday Night Football matchup analysis!

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Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals

Date and Start Time: Thursday, September 13 at 8:00 PM ET

Notable Injuries and Status:

 

Offensive and Defensive Rankings:

Ravens Bengals
Passing Yards  12th 16th
Rushing Yards  14th 21st
Pass Defense  1st  27th
Run  Defense  8th  7th

 

Must Starts

Top Performers That Have To Be In Your Lineup

Alex Collins (RB, BAL)

Fantasy owners should not fear the awful game script from Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills. Collins was the clear workhorse for the Baltimore Ravens until midway through the second quarter when the team led by 20 points, at which point sitting him was likely a personnel decision to allow him to rest up on a short week. While the Cincinnati Bengals were able to hold the Indianapolis Colts run game in check, volume alone should provide Collins with a safe RB2 floor in a Ravens offense that looks revitalized from a year ago.

Joe Mixon (RB, CIN)

Snap counts don't lie, and the Cincinnati Bengals seemingly intend to make Mixon a focal point of their offense. The sophomore running back played on 76-percent of the Bengals snaps and accounted for 85-percent of the rushing attempts while Giovanni Bernard was kept on the sideline. While it is difficult to envisage a repeat performance of his stellar 97-yard effort in last season's Week 17 contest with the Baltimore Ravens, fantasy owners should feel confident that Mixon's touches should equal or at least rival the bell cow workload he received last week and should translate to fantasy success.

A.J. Green (WR, CIN)

I hesitantly write Green as a must-start because he is undoubtedly the team's reliable No. 1 wide receiver and will certainly draw the most targets out of the entire Cincinnati Bengals receiving core. Unfortunately, the Baltimore Ravens have found ways to shut Green down, with him finishing as a below-average WR2 or worse in the last six contests against them. Don't expect a monster week, but Green should be able to return decent totals with top corner Jimmy Smith still suspended.

 

Consider Sitting

Players To Avoid Putting In Your Lineup If Possible

Javorius Allen (RB, BAL)

Allen managed to find the end zone against the Buffalo Bills last Sunday, but didn't have much of a role in the offense until the Baltimore Ravens had generated an outstanding lead. The knee injury to Kenneth Dixon does bode well for his piece of the backfield rotation timeshare and the Cincinnati Bengals did allow Indianapolis Colts backs to catch 10 passes last week, but it is hard to trust in Allen given how Alex Collins should be ready to be fed with fresh legs in Week 2.

Andy Dalton (QB, CIN)

The historic struggles Dalton has had against the Baltimore Ravens and his lackluster performances in prime-time games make him an easy bust candidate for this week. Any conceptions about Dalton's ability to succeed from his 243-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Indianapolis Colts aren't likely to translate against a Ravens defensive squad that looks highly capable of shutting down average quarterback play.

Giovani Bernard (RB, CIN)

This is truly a situation where Bernard will need to give fantasy owners a reason to start him, as he was scarcely on the field in a favorable matchup against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1 with only two total touches. With the Cincinnati Bengals showing that they want Joe Mixon on the field as much as possible, it should be fairly concerning for Bernard owners that his role in the offense is highly dependent on either game-script or an injury.

Tyler Eifert (TE, CIN)

Eifert is certainly a competitor for being the second-most targeted player in the Cincinnati Bengals offense, but he only played on 22 snaps and ran 16 routes against the Indianapolis Colts. Fantasy owners who can afford to sit Eifert after the tight end massacre that took place last week should try to wait for the better signs of higher volume going his way.

Other Notable Sits: John Ross/Tyler Boyd (WRs, CIN)

 

Solid Options/Sleepers

Which Players Will Have Solid Games and Which Could Surprise?

Solid Option: Joe Flacco (QB, BAL)

Preseason success translated to the regular season when Flacco threw for three touchdown passes against a traditionally stingy Buffalo Bills defense in Week 1. The Cincinnati Bengals had some struggles in keeping Andrew Luck in check and have never been exceptionally prolific at defending against the pass, meaning Flacco should draw his usual characteristic streaming appeal for fantasy owners who are in need of a spot start.

Solid Option: Michael Crabtree (WR, BAL)

It is way too early to draw conclusions about the target distributions for wide receivers in the Baltimore Ravens offense considering how the team's Week 1 matchup got out of hand quickly. However, quarterback Joe Flacco looks more decisive than in previous years and has shown exceptional poise when throwing inside the 20-yard line. The best bet out of the entire Baltimore wide receiver core to find pay dirt for fantasy purposes is the player who carries an exceptional red zone pedigree: Michael Crabtree. Owners should value him as a WR3 with touchdown upside when the team takes on the Cincinnati Bengals.

Sleeper: Nick Boyle (TE, BAL)

The Cincinnati Bengals feature a strong perimeter of defensive backs but are incredibly porous over the middle with linebacker Vontaze Burfict still suspended. Boyle should provide streaming appeal given how he ran the most pass routes of any Baltimore Ravens tight end last week and could easily exploit a vulnerable Bengals interior similar to how Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron did in Week 1.

Other Notable Sleepers: John Brown (WR, BAL)

 

More Lineup Prep