Fantasy Football Sit/Start Advice Week 2: Which Bengals To Play

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 10: Cincinnati Bengals players warm up on the field before taking on the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on September 10, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Monday night offered up some risers and fallers in the world of fantasy football after the Bengals lost to the Baltimore Ravens. Some recommendations I gave you were spot on. Some recommendations I gave you didn't deliver. I'll address Monday Night's performances throughout this Sit/Start column, and more importantly: look ahead for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns.

Start Em:

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB

I recommended sitting Green-Ellis against the Ravens for Monday’s game. While I was aware of his touchdown potential against Baltimore, I pointed out that I needed to see more of Green-Ellis before I could recommend him. I saw plenty this week. Green-Ellis is a good start against Cleveland. Green-Ellis was productive against a stout Ravens. He finished with 91 rushing yards, 4 yards on one catch, and a touchdown in a game where the run was all but abandoned in the second half due to the Bengals fighting from behind – something I’d like to believe won’t be the case against Cleveland this Sunday. Lesean McCoy gashed the right side of the field last Sunday against Cleveland’s defense. I’m not saying Green-Ellis is in the same tier as McCoy, of course. I’m simply saying that McCoy figured Cleveland out last week and I’m sure Green-Ellis will do the same. Regardless of the return of Bernard Scott this week, Green-Ellis is a solid No. 2 with upside on your fantasy roster.

A.J. Green, WR

This is (always) an obvious start. I couldn’t push you to sit A.J. Green last week, and it’s doubtful I ever will as long as he’s healthy. If there’s anything to point out with A.J. Green this week, it’s that cornerback Joe Haden will be out for Sunday’s game. Expect huge fantasy numbers from Green.

Bengals Defense

Last week I recommended that you sit Bengals Defense against the Ravens. I hope you did. In most fantasy scoring formats, the Bengals defense scored negative points on Monday night. This week will be different. I’m tempering my expectations slightly with the Bengals defense for obvious reasons; they were abysmal against Baltimore’s offense. However, even if Brandon Weeden does improve upon his 5.1 quarterback rating, this should be a great week for starting the Bengals D. While I’m giving a ringing endorsement for the Bengals Defense, I can’t encourage any particular defensive player if you play in IDP (Individual Defensive Player) leagues. Hold off for now. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer may become a madman with rotations on Sunday.

Mike Nugent, K

As I said last week: I hate predicting kickers. That being said, I think Nugent will have a slightly better fantasy day than he did against Baltimore. In Week 1, Nugent had 7 points in most fantasy scoring settings. I’d like to believe the Bengals will be in field goal range more often than they were in Baltimore, and I doubt Marvin Lewis will put as much emphasis on converting 4th downs against an anemic Cleveland offense.

Sit Em:

Jermaine Gresham, TE

Gresham was a non-factor in the Bengals receiving game Monday night. He finished with 30 yards on 3 catches. I’d like to believe that Monday night was the exception and not the rule, but it concerns me nonetheless. If Gresham is your best tight end on your roster you may have to hope that he’ll take care of business on Cleveland’s defense, but I need to see more from Gresham before I can confidently recommend you start him. By the way, if Gresham is your only tight end I’d consider dropping some dead weight on your bench and grabbing a backup plan just in case Gresham doesn’t get it together during the first half of the season. This is one of those "I-Hope-I’m-Wrong" recommendations. Gresham has scored a touchdown against the Browns the last two times he's played them. Since I was wrong about Gresham last week, maybe you should avoid my Gresham advice this week, but I think if you can afford to: bench Gresham.

Andy Dalton, QB

Even though I expect a better offensive output by the Bengals in general this Sunday, I can’t recommend Dalton as a starter until I see more from him. BenJarvus Green-Ellis will also be a threat to Dalton’s passing touchdowns. If you still have Dalton on your bench, make sure he’s keeping it warm.

Waiver Wire Pickup of The Week

Andrew Hawkins, WR

One of the good moments I experienced last Monday night (there were very few), was Twitter blowing up with "experts" in fantasy football and the NFL regurgitating knowledge of Andrew Hawkins after they realized he may be relevant this season. During the offseason, very few discussed his potential in fantasy football or otherwise. After 86 yards on 8 catches, Twitter was full of experts telling Hawkins life story and abusing the Rams for letting him walk. Cincinnati fans knew all of this. Cincinnati fans have been excited for Hawkins to regularly take the field since well before preseason. Last week, I recommended that you keep an eye on Andrew Hawkins for a waiver wire pickup. The opportunity came sooner than expected, and for some of you it may be too late to claim him.

Let me point out that Hawkins isn’t necessarily a homerun pickup. He could be, of course. I need to see Hawkins get the targets he saw in Baltimore more consistently before I can even recommend starting him. Also, I don’t see Hawkins being a huge red zone threat – which makes him a good PPR (Points Per Reception) pickup, if anything. If you’re in a league with minimally 10 teams, preferably 12 or more, Hawkins is an especially sneaky pickup that could pay dividends. He'll minimally be a great asset during your bye weeks.

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