Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will be out for the rest of the 2023 NFL season with a wrist injury suffered during the Week 11 Thursday night game against division rival Baltimore Ravens. What does this mean for your fantasy team this year and your dynasty rosters?
First, we have to address the player directly. This will be the second injury to cost Burrow significant games. On top of that, you have to add in the calf injury that, while not costing him playing time, severely hampered his effectiveness in the first few weeks of this season. Obviously, you will be sliding the Cincinnati QB into your IR spot, but the question is, what should you do with him in the future?
Burrow is still a top-end quarterback when he plays. He has 17 multi-touchdown games over the past two seasons, including eight with over 300 passing yards. We don’t want to label Burrow as injury-prone because none of these injuries are related. There could be a slight fear that the general wear and tear of years of football dating back to high school could be catching up with the almost 27-year-old. If you were looking to move on from him, you should be getting back a haul of picks and a young quarterback.
If you want to replace him in a one quarterback league this season, you can look at someone like Sam Howell, Joshua Dobbs, or Brock Purdy. Jake Browning is not an option worth exploring unless you are in a deep league. He has good weapons around him, but it’s hard to trust a quarterback in his fourth year and only had one passing attempt before Thursday night.
The rest of the Bengals team takes a step back in terms of what to expect from them, and it starts with the pass-catching weapons.
Ja’Marr Chase is the biggest loser in value. He goes from a top three option at the wide receiver position to now being a hope-and-pray option. He should still be started each week, but expectations should be lowered.
The bigger question is, what does this injury mean for Tee Higgins? Higgins has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury. The question will be when and IF he returns this year. Higgins is headed toward free agency, so he might feel incentivized to not play and risk another injury that could cost him his next payday.
With Browning now projected to be the starter for the rest of the season, we could see other names step up and start to shine. We have seen it in the past where a backup quarterback comes in, and a second-tier receiver gets ample opportunities due to their comfort from practice. That looks like Trenton Irwin, who has seen a bump in playing time with Higgins out. I don’t believe he is a player you want to start week to week, but he is worth monitoring.
Looking to the future, in addition to Higgins hitting the open market, so is Tyler Boyd. If the Bengals decide to move on from one or both of them, we could see Andrei Iosivas and Charlie Jones start to get worked into the system this year. The Bengals will never publicly admit that the season is over, but they might start looking at what they have in their rookie receivers so they can plan for the 2024 NFL Draft.
The tight end position for the Bengals has never been a position of high use. Irv Smith has been the main guy, but Tanner Hudson and Drew Sample got most of the targets with Browning under center. It’s a mess, looking like each will take enough targets to make none of them worthwhile.
The run game with Joe Mixon gets a bump with Burrow out. With Browning now under center, the playbook gets trimmed down, and the run game ramps up.
Mixon has had a sneaky season so far, and that looks to continue. He has had double-digit carries in every game and is averaging 3.95 yards per carry. Out of the remaining opponents, only the Browns rank in the top half in run defense. The fear is that opposing teams will stack the box and force Browning to beat them with his arm. That could be a positive for Mixon, who already has 38 targets on the year.
The next-highest running back on the team has seven. He is currently the RB7 on the year and should continue that pace the rest of the season as the Bengals lean heavily on him. They may have to rotate in Trayveon Williams, Chris Evans, and Chase Brown more down the stretch.
The Bengals are currently on the outside looking in at the playoff picture at 5-5. Their remaining schedule is tough. Every team remaining on their schedule is .500 or better. They will have to win their three remaining divisional games. Twice against the Steelers and once against the Browns.
Both have strong defenses that bring a ton of pressure. It looks like a long shot for the Burrow-less Bengals to make the playoffs, let alone Rule the Jungle. It might not be Who Dey think gonna beat them Bengals and more Who Dey gonna draft early in April.