Ja'Marr Chase Getty Cincinnati Bengals
Getty Images

Have you noticed how none of the top running backs in fantasy football are living up to their draft position? While things went differently in leagues, by and large, the consensus top five picks in leagues were Jonathan Taylor, Christian McCaffery, Dalvin Cook, Austin Ekeler and Derrick Henry, in some order. Yet, three weeks into the season, none are in the top five in points scored in standard leagues. McCaffery is the only one to crack the top 10, and he's 10th.

I know I've certainly noticed because in the one league I had an early pick in, I took Austin Ekeler with the third pick. Taylor and CMC were off the board, and I went with Ekeler because I'd never had him before. OK, I also took him because while I love Dalvin Cook, he always misses time with an injury, and Derrick Henry seems to be slowing down. So, of course, Ekeler has been the most disappointing of the five.

He's the third-highest scoring RB on my whole team in that league! No wonder I'm 0-3. Hopefully, Ekeler and all the other early RB picks to get their act together this weekend. If they don't, it's going to be a long year for those of us "fortunate" enough to be able to draft them.

Let's get this money.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

Dolphins at Bengals, 8:15 p.m. | TV: Amazon Prime

Latest Odds: Cincinnati Bengals -4
  • Key Trend: The Bengals are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games
  • The Pick: Bengals -3.5 (-110)

I think the world is getting ahead of itself with the Miami Dolphins. They're one of only two 3-0 teams in the NFL, along with the Philadelphia Eagles, but I don't think they're nearly as good as the results indicate. That's not to say they're bad. They're not. They look like a playoff team and are certainly a lot better than last year. But they are not a juggernaut.

The Dolphins came back from a 35-14 fourth-quarter deficit against the Ravens to win 42-38. That was certainly cool and exciting but also somewhat fluky. Last week, the Dolphins were outgained by a battered, short-handed Buffalo team 497-212 and ran only 39 plays on offense compared to Buffalo's 90. They ran for only 41 yards in the game, averaging 2.4 yards per carry. They won the game, but those aren't typically performances you can rely on if you're trying to win games.

Jonathan Coachman is joined by Allan Bell , Allie O'Neill and Jake Fetner to dish out Thursday's best bets. Download and follow The Early Edge on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.  

Now they're on the road on a short week to face a Bengals team with its back against the wall. Cincinnati is 1-2, and even if we're early in the season, recovering from a 1-3 start to reach the playoffs is difficult for anybody. In this matchup, I think the Bengals' offense can exploit a Miami defense that ranks 31st in the NFL in success rate (49.3%) and 19th in points allowed per drive (1.96).

Opponents have moved the ball well in the air against this Miami defense, which isn't great when you'll be facing Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. The Dolphins will suffer their first loss of the season tonight, and the Bengals will cover in the process.

Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: SportsLine's Larry Hartstein is 21-10-1 in his last 32 picks involving the Miami Dolphins, and he's released his play on the spread for tonight's game.

💰The Picks

🏈 College Football

Lorenzo Fauatea Getty BYU Cougars
Getty Images

Utah State at No. 19 BYU, 8 p.m | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Utah State Under 17.5 Points (-120) -- 
This is a tricky game that's hard to figure out. BYU is the better team by a lot, but the Cougars are dealing with injuries and have a massive game against Notre Dame awaiting them next week. So I worry about the Cougars resting some players late in this game when they should have things in control.

So I'm choosing to rely on Utah State to keep being Utah State, and that's not great for Utah State. The Aggies have been terrible on offense this season. They rank 127th in points per possession (0.96), 108th in success rate (36.7%), 127th in EPA per play (-0.26) and have scored points on only 14.5% of their possessions (130th). The Aggies do not finish drives. They've scored touchdowns on only 45.5% of their red zone drives, which ranks 114th nationally, and they have just as much difficulty scoring from outside the red zone because they have one of the least explosive offenses in the country (their explosive play rate of 7.8% ranks 126th). Every way you look at it, this is an awful offense, so let's bet on continuing to be the case.

Key Trend: Utah State's 0.96 points per possession ranks 127th of 131 teams.


Cal Quantrill Getty Cleveland Guardians
Getty Images

Rays at Guardians, 6:10 p.m | TV: MLB.TV

Latest Odds: Cleveland Guardians +115

The Pick: Guardians (+105) -- I understand the thought process behind this line tonight seeing as how Cleveland has wrapped up the AL Central and has little to play for, while Tampa has not locked up a Wild Card berth (though it would take an epic collapse to miss out). I also understand that the starting pitcher matchup tilts toward Tampa with Jeffrey Springs on the mound against Cleveland's Cal Quantrill.

But I do not like betting against this Cleveland team. Not at home, and certainly not in the underdog role. Cal Quantrill doesn't have the strikeout rate Spring has, but he doesn't walk hitters, and gets groundball contact. He's also supported by one of the best defenses in the league and best bullpens. In other words, Cleveland is precisely the kind of team you want to bet on as a dog.

Key Trend: The Guardians are 7-3 in their last 10 home games.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Want some more Thursday night action? Jason La Canfora shares all his favorite plays for tonight's game, including some props.