Thursday Night Observations

When you have Survivor Pools, picks against the spread, an entry in the Supercontest, DFS action and eight fantasy teams, so rarely does an NFL game go almost exactly as you need it to. But that’s more or less what happened Thursday night.

I had the Bengals as a pick ’em in the Supercontest and plus one as my best bet. But I had Justin Tucker and John Brown going in key fantasy leagues for the Ravens. Moreover, I had a share of A.J. Green and the Bengals defense, but no shares of Alex Collins or Joe Mixon. Somehow, the Bengals covered, but Brown had a big game and a TD, Tucker got me a passable output (though it should have been better), Green scored three times, and the heavily-owned players I don’t have failed to score. It might not sound like much, but you have to appreciate the rare occasions when nothing terrible happens.

• That said, why didn’t John Harbaugh kick the field goal and onside kick in the closing seconds, down 11? It was the obvious call, and the only chance the Ravens had. Tucker owners should have another 4-5 points.

• Andy Dalton threw four TDs in the first half, but did almost nothing in the second. He looked pretty sharp despite a modest 6.2 YPA.

• A.J. Green had an inefficient 69 yards on nine targets, but three TDs always pays the bills. Unlike Julio Jones, he’s the team’s first look near the goal line, and he has no problem cashing in.

• Tyler Boyd (9-6-91) had a breakout game. He’s the team’s No. 2 apparently, not John Ross who saw only four targets and dropped one of them. Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah all saw looks at TE, so it might be a while before Eifert is featured the way he used to be.

• Joe Mixon ran hard despite leaving briefly with a knee injury, but this was not a good game for his fantasy value as Gio Bernard re-asserted himself with six carries for 27 yards and seven targets (four catches for 15 yards) while Mixon went 1-1-3 in the passing game. Mixon will still catch passes, but a healthy Bernard cuts into his ceiling somewhat.

Joe Flacco had only 6.8 YPA, but attempted 55 passes for 376 yards and two TDs. He threw two picks, lost a fumble and was sacked four times. though. Even so the Ravens offense and Flacco look so much better this year than last, and the passing game might support two productive fantasy receivers.

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• Michael Crabtree and John Brown each saw 10 targets, but it was Brown who got the downfield looks and the TD. It was hard to tell on the edited version (they don’t show replays), but it looked like Brown could have had a second TD, but dropped it. Willie Snead went 8-5-54 and could have some PPR value, but keep in mind this was a game in which Flacco attempted 55 throws.

• Alex Collins looks good, breaking tackles and making plays as a pass catcher. But this is a full-blown timeshare with Javoris Allen seeing goal-line carries and plenty of catches too. At least Kenneth Dixon is out of the way now.

• It’s shocking how good Justin Tucker is, drilling a 55-yard FG like it’s a PAT. It’s amazing he’s the most accurate kicker of all time with so many of his attempts coming from long distance. But as I said, Harbaugh cheated him out of an easy garbage-time attempt and me out of the unicorn among unicorns, a perfect NFL game.