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Fresh Off the Bye Week: Bengals, Jets, Patriots and Ravens

Who are some players worth spotlighting for each of the teams returning from their bye week?

Rhamondre Stevenson

Thanks for checking in, and welcome to the week 11 edition of ‘Fresh Off the Bye Week’. This time, we’ll take a look at one player from each of the Bengals, Jets, Patriots, and Ravens, analyzing how they will fare for the rest of the regular season and beyond for your dynasty team.

Let’s get things started and begin this week’s guide!

Cincinnati Bengals

Ja’Marr Chase, WR

A year after taking a bet on wide receiver Chase, the decision to take the LSU prodigy over an offensive lineman has paid off beyond our understanding. Chase seems to be the glue behind the Bengals’ offense, and the difference between Joe Burrow putting up elite numbers and less-than-elite ones.

It all boils down to the 22-year-old’s game-breaking style of play. It’s difficult to go into what Chase does so well because he makes everything look completely effortless. He’s constantly winning one-on-one battles, and in addition to being one of the top vertical home run hitters, he’s also unstoppable after the catch: The moment he gets even a grass blade of open field, he’s gone.

Despite missing a couple of games, Chase is still the WR10 on Fantasy Data’s metrics with a total of 94.7. In a nine-game stretch, he would be on pace for 121.76 points, making him the WR7. This is also despite a few underwhelming games where the entire Bengals offense looked out of sync.

In Chase’s last two games, he has 15 catches for 262 yards and four touchdowns, astonishing numbers for any receiver. He has 50.2 points in those games, so he’s returning to the cyborg form he had in his rookie season.

Chase has already missed a couple of games due to a hip injury, but Cincinnati expects him to return in week 12 against the Titans. He’ll be critical for the team’s attempt at a second playoff run, and his sequence-breaking ability should put him on a Hall of Fame path in the years to come.

New York Jets

Ahmad Gardner, CB

The Jets have completely nailed their 2022 draft class. From Garrett Wilson to Jermaine Johnson, and to Breece Hall (don’t let that ACL tear scare you), they have vastly improved their team and are primed to end the league’s longest active playoff drought.

Out of all these players, it’s corner Sauce Gardner (not to be confused as a nickname for Gardner Minshew) that has been the most impactful. In his rookie season, Gardner has two interceptions, a league-leading 13 pass disruptions, 30 solo tackles, and three tackles for loss. All in all, he has exactly 60 fantasy points on Fantasy Data, making him the site’s current DB28.

Gardner is also allowing just a 54.9 passer rating according to Pro Football Reference, making him 14th among all defensive backs. Impressively, he’s done this while also being targeted 51 times: Philadelphia’s James Bradberry is the only corner ranked lower in passer rating that has been targeted more (57).

It’s partly because of Gardner’s efforts that the Jets rank sixth in defensive DVOA, a metric used by Football Outsiders to measure snap-by-snap efficiency. He already has the look of a lockdown corner, which could be concerning for IDP purposes considering those kinds of guys rarely get thrown at.

But in the meantime, Gardner has been playing brilliantly, and should have a solid rookie season for your IDP league.

New England Patriots

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB

Last season, the Patriots run game was dominated by Damien Harris. This season it’s been second-year back Stevenson, who’s taken over the reins as the team’s featured runner, and he’s had great success.

Through nine games, Stevenson has 618 yards on 129 attempts (4.8 YPA) and four touchdowns, while also catching 35 passes for 227 yards and a score. This makes him the RB12 on Fantasy Data’s metrics with a total of 114.5 fantasy points.

Stevenson (as aforementioned) has had a strong season as a receiving back, and on the ground only three running backs (Dameon Pierce, Derrick Henry, and Nick Chubb) have more broken tackles than his 18. He’s also done this with just 2.2 yards before contact per attempt, ranked 40th among all backs.

Stevenson has just 129 rush attempts, 14th at the position, so while he’s been the feature back he has not been much of a bellcow. And that’s a good thing as he continues to get better and stays healthy on his rookie contract. The starting back situation fluctuates year-by-year, so be wary of that, but for the rest of the season, Stevenson should deliver the goods.

Baltimore Ravens

Roquan Smith, LB

The Ravens are an enigma. It seems every big named defensive player imaginable eventually finds their way to Baltimore, and the latest such example has been former Chicago Bear Roquan Smith. In the final year of his rookie contract, Smith was traded to fix a dire linebacking corps that’s been getting torn apart by offenses this season.

Considered one of the game’s premium linebackers, Smith, along with San Francisco’s Fred Warner, has been held up as the standard for the position. In IDP leagues he’s also been of great value: For both the Bears and Ravens he has 54 solo tackles, four tackles for loss, and two picks. This has given him a total of 93.45 fantasy points, not only making him Fantasy Data’s LB7, but also their eighth-best fantasy defender.

The Ravens picked a bold time to trade for Smith, as they would have to either extend him and Lamar Jackson or let the linebacker walk in free agency. Perhaps they knew that, as they appear to be going all in for a potential playoff run as the AFC North’s leading team. Considering the number of leads Baltimore has blown this season, it makes a lot of sense.

Linebackers are clearly the most valuable players in IDP leagues, and Smith is a household name in that regard. It’ll be interesting to see if he stays in Baltimore or decides to take his chances and break open the piggy bank with a new team. Either way, he’s just 25 years old, so he has plenty left in the tank, making him a top asset not just for the rest of the season, but for a long time in your IDP league.

So how did we do this week? Let us know in the comments below!

Fresh Off the Bye Week: Bengals, Jets, Patriots and Ravens
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