Johnny Manziel just might experience some deja vu in week nine. Due to normal Browns starting quarterback Josh McCown being banged up, the second-year passer figures to get his second start of the 2015 NFL season this week, where the Bengals will await in Cincinnati on Thursday Night Football.
Manziel’s first career start came against this very Bengals squad in 2014 during his troublesome rookie season, and the results weren’t pretty. Manziel didn’t appear to know the offense and was flying by the seat of his pants en route to two interceptions, just 80 yards passing and exactly zero points scored.
It was about as bad as a debut can get, but Thursday night allows Manziel something few seem to be willing to give him: a second chance.
Not only has Manziel drawn much criticism for his attitude and off field behavior over the past few years, but a recent domestic issue with his girlfriend also raised some eyebrows. While apparently not being disciplined by the league, Manziel at least has some work to do to win back numerous fans across the nation.
He’ll have the opportunity to do that this week, and it’s only fitting it’d come against the team that made him look “tiny and slow” just one season ago.
Manziel could obviously go down in flames here, so starting him in fantasy football isn’t exactly encouraged. I vouched for Manziel last year in this same matchup, and it lost some people some fantasy playoff games. This year the risk isn’t so great, and there is even some optimism he could do well. He tossed three touchdowns over the course of the first two weeks, and he’s had another six weeks to learn on the sidelines. Manziel is as ready now as he may ever be, and he’s faced these Bengals before. That’s a minor advantage, while Cincy really hasn’t been an elite pass defense by the numbers. They stifled Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers last week, but it’s worth noting that was Big Ben’s first game back from a knee injury and he didn’t seem to be quite himself.
I’m certainly not saying you should start Manziel in regular fantasy leagues. There are better options. However, he could get you out of a jam if your top passers are on bye and at the minimum price on DraftKings, he may not be the worst gamble in daily fantasy football leagues, either. Manziel has looked much improved in limited action this year and he’s shown us two things for sure: he has a penchant for the long ball and he can run in this league. If he can even get you the numbers he put up on the Titans on just 15 passes in week two, he’d be a mild success.