When Joe Burrow was clearly less than 100% with his calf injury early in the season, the Bengals never turned to Jake Browning, and Thursday night in a loss against the Ravens gave us a good sense of why that was. Browning simply looked overwhelmed, fading from pressure and basically only throwing up prayers his receivers couldn't answer more often than not.
And, unfortunately, that's what the Bengals offense is going to look like the rest of the season. We learned Friday afternoon thatin his right wrist Thursday against the Ravens, an injury that is likely going to require surgery.
It's obviously a significant downgrade across the board for the entire Bengals offense. Ja'Marr Chase ended up salvaging his Fantasy game with a garbage time touchdown Thursday night, but he had just two catches for 12 yards to go along with the score on seven targets. He nearly made a couple of highlight-reel catches, but he also needed highlight-reel catches just to have a chance at a good game, something we've grown all too familiar with from the likes of Garrett Wilson with Zach Wilson as his QB.
That's probably the range I'll throw Chase in with Burrow done for the year. Wilson has been a must-start Fantasy wide receiver, ranking 19th in PPR points per game despite just two touchdowns in nine games, I've consistently ranked him between WR10 and WR15 most weeks. He makes just enough superhero-type plays to overcome the poor QB play, and I would expect the same from Chase now that he has to play with Browning, so he'll be in that high-end WR1 range of the rankings more often than not, I think.
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Tee Higgins will be more like a WR3 once he returns from his hamstring injury, while Joe Mixon will probably be in the Saquon Barkley range of the rankings for me. You're probably starting Mixon because of the volume he'll get, but his chances of a touchdown in any given week are going to be pretty low, and efficiency could be an issue. He'll be more like a low-end RB2 with Burrow out.
Like I said, it's a downgrade across the board. It's not impossible that Browning exceeds expectations, but we're talking about a guy who was an undrafted free agent after starting for four mostly mediocre seasons -- his 43-touchdown 2016 campaign was clearly a fluke. Thursday was Browning's first real chance at playing time in the regular season in the NFL, though he also hasn't exactly covered himself in glory in his preseason opportunities, sporting a 73.2 passer rating and two touchdowns to four interceptions across 155 career attempts. This could get really, really ugly down the stretch.