October 13, 2009
The Bengals' defense has become a problem, at least in fantasy circles.
Elsewhere it's a remarkable story, but around here it's a big orange nuisance. Consider the way that Cincinnati has dealt with No. 1 wide receivers so far this season:
Brandon Marshall(notes), DEN, Week 1 - seven targets, four receptions, 27 yards
Greg Jennings(notes), GB, Week 2 - five targets, zero receptions, zero yards
Santonio Holmes(notes), PIT, Week 3 - five targets, one reception, 18 yards
Braylon Edwards(notes), CLE, Week 4 - five targets, zero receptions, zero yards
Derrick Mason(notes), BAL, Week 5 - one target, zero receptions, zero yards
Thanks to persistent double coverage and the efforts of corners Leon Hall(notes) and Johnathan Joseph(notes), the Bengals have allowed just five catches, 45 total receiving yards and zero touchdowns to No. 1 wideouts. Cincinnati's D has also recorded 14 sacks through five weeks, which nearly matches last season's 16-game total (17). Simply put, that defense is locking down elite receivers and it's pestering quarterbacks.
In Week 6 the Bengals will face Houston's Andre Johnson(notes), the most challenging receiver they've encountered to date. Johnson leads the NFL in targets (52), he's tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns (four) and he's fifth in yardage (437). Obviously it's difficult to sit him in fantasy leagues because…well, because he does things like this. That play had a body count.
But in all likelihood you won't find Johnson ranked among the top 10 receivers for Week 6. It's a nod of respect to Cincinnati, a team we've learned to fear.
However, it's worth noting that while the Bengals have shut down everybody's top wide receiver, they haven't completely stopped the pass. They're allowing 228.8 yards per game through the air, the 11th highest total in the NFL. Every week, some secondary receiving option (not always a WR) puts up a useful line against them.
For your review:
Donald Driver(notes), GB, Week 2 - nine targets, six receptions, 99 yards, TD
Hines Ward(notes), PIT, Week 3 - five targets, four receptions, 82 yards
Mike Wallace(notes), PIT, Week 3 - eight targets, seven receptions, 102 yards
Mohamed Massaquoi(notes), CLE, Week 4 - 13 targets, eight receptions, 148 yards
Ray Rice(notes), BAL, Week 5 - eight targets, seven receptions, 74 yards, TD
Todd Heap(notes), BAL, Week 5 - nine targets, seven receptions, 41 yards
Below you'll find the usual review of heavily targeted receivers. As always, we recommend that you brush with Target Practice, then rinse with Inside the Box Score.
If Derek Anderson(notes) or Romeo Crennel happened to watch that Monday night performance by Braylon Edwards, they probably shot their TVs. (Might have taken Derek five or six tries). Braylon made every catch you'd expect an elite receiver to make and he drew a (bogus) 49-yard pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter. There's no benching him in Week 6 against Buffalo. … Please welcome Eddie Royal(notes) to the 2009 season. Kyle Orton(notes) told us there would be better days ahead. … After Joseph Addai(notes)'s 10-for-10 performance on Sunday night, he has 26 catches on the year. Donald Brown(notes) has only seven. … Anyone looking for Miles Austin(notes) propaganda should hit the film room. … Bill Polian says that Anthony Gonzalez(notes) "probably won't practice" during the bye week, so Austin Collie(notes) adders should not be worried about Week 7 (at STL). … Torry Holt(notes) put up his best stat line of the season in Week 5, during an otherwise disastrous game. The Mike Sims-Walker(notes) DNP certainly helped Holt's cause. Jacksonville faces St. Louis on Sunday. If any player in the NFL can get fired up to play the Rams, it's Holt.
Through five weeks, Ray Rice leads all running backs in targets (32) and receiving yards (208). His Week 6 opponent is Minnesota, a team that's traditionally tough against the run. But if you can get outside the Williams Wall, there's hope. … Tampa Bay's defense specializes in giving up long, game-changing touchdown catches. Jeremy Maclin(notes) was the latest wide receiver to benefit. He's an obvious add, with all the obvious caveats (rookie, great match-up, not the No. 1, etc). … Donnie Avery(notes) is available in most leagues, and he's about to face a Jacksonville defense that's allowed the most yardage to wide receivers (1,023 yards, nine TDs). … For what it's worth, Marshawn Lynch(notes) had 23 touches in Week 5 and Fred Jackson(notes) had just 15. That is not to be taken as an endorsement of Bills. … Nate Burleson(notes) still is not universally owned. That's troubling. He had a pair of touchdown receptions on Sunday, he's second in the NFC in receiving yardage (358), and he's third in the NFL in total year-to-date looks.
Here's the target leader board through Week 5:
Photo via Getty Images