The Cincinnati Bengals saw a worst-case scenario play out in their Week 11 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, as franchise quarterback Joe Burrow suffered a torn wrist ligament that’s expected to sideline him for the rest of the season.
Jake Browning, a fourth-year pro who’d put up just one career pass attempt before having to handle emergency duty against Baltimore, is now set to serve as Cincinnati’s starter during the team’s upcoming stretch run.
Should fantasy football managers in need of help at the quarterback position trust the Washington product during a pivotal part of the fantasy campaign by picking him up off the waiver wire?
Should Jake Browning Be a Fantasy Waiver Wire Add in Week 12?
Browning isn’t a raw rookie in a true sense, but in terms of regular-season experience, he’s pretty close. The 27-year-old did finally get some extended action against the Ravens in Week 11, and all things considered, didn’t acquit himself poorly by any stretch.
Facing an aggressive defense on its home turf in a prime-time clash, Browning completed eight-of-14 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown while also rushing four times for 40 yards. The score went to a player who will likely be the biggest key to whether Browning is reasonably successful the rest of the way and helps lead Cincinnati into the postseason – Ja’Marr Chase.
Browning has been in the NFL since 2020, when he spent nearly the entirety of the season with the Minnesota Vikings. He then joined the Bengals in September 2021 and has been around the organization on either the practice squad or active roster since.
That’s given him no shortage of time in head coach Zac Taylor’s system, which helps explain why Browning didn’t exactly look out of place after being thrust into action against the Ravens.
MORE: Buy Low, Sell High QBs Week 12
That preexisting knowledge of the team’s playbook is also why I think fantasy managers who’ve just lost Burrow or otherwise are in a pinch at quarterback due to bye weeks or other injuries/poor performance should give him serious consideration.
It also bears noting Browning had a commendable college career while plying his craft for the Washington Huskies in the Pac-12, so much so that he remains Washington’s all-time passing leader with 12,296 yards across 54 college games. Browning also posted a respectable 94:34 TD:INT ratio and added 16 rushing scores during his Huskies tenure.
Browning then beat out a veteran with a decent body of work over six NFL seasons, Trevor Siemian, for the Bengals’ No. 2 quarterback job this summer with the help of a solid preseason in which he completed 32-of-45 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown.
The fact Taylor and his staff entrusted Browning, who’d yet to throw a regular-season pass at that point, over the exponentially more experienced Siemian when Burrow’s early-season status was still uncertain due to his summer calf strain says plenty about the confidence that exists in Browning.
MORE: Fantasy FAAB Picks Week 12
Moreover, Browning walks into a favorable scenario in terms of the talent he’ll have at his disposal at the skill positions. Joe Mixon, Chase, Tee Higgins (who should be back from his hamstring injury in Week 12), and Tyler Boyd provide Browning with four highly reliable vets who are considerably experienced in the team’s offense.
And, even though Irv Smith hasn’t done much yet at tight end, Cincinnati has another pair of reliable pass catchers at the position in Tanner Hudson and Drew Sample, who are capable of serving as effective security blankets for a young signal-caller as he acclimates.
Browning can also offer some rushing production to complement his work through the air, and he’ll go into his first start with extra prep time, given the Bengals played on Thursday night in Week 11.
Granted, the Bengals’ remaining schedule isn’t the most appealing for air attacks by any stretch. Cincinnati still has to play the Pittsburgh Steelers twice and also has the Jacksonville Jaguars, Vikings, and Cleveland Browns on the docket – but Browning has enough upside to be worth a waiver wire investment if you’re in dire straits.
Looking to make a trade in your fantasy league? Having trouble deciding who to start and who to sit? Setting DFS lineups? Check out PFN’s Free Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer, Start/Sit Optimizer, and DFS Lineup Optimizer to help you make the right decision!
Listen to the PFN Fantasy Podcast
Listen to the PFN Fantasy Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms. Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Fantasy Podcast on our Fantasy YouTube channel.