Despite both teams now having different starting quarterbacks than when they opened the season, their offenses have far too many weapons to keep on the bench in one of the most important weeks of the fantasy season.
Here are the Bengals you need to be starting and sitting this week
WR A.J. Green
When Andy Dalton went down with a thumb injury last week, the one player (besides Dalton) whose fantasy impact was set to be impacted most was A.J. Green. Dalton loves getting the ball to Green, who is once again leading the team in catches (76), targets (115) and receiving yards (1,169).
But would he keep up that level of production with AJ McCarron now at quarterback? Green answered that pretty quickly with six grabs for 132 yards and a score vs the Steelers, including a 66-yard touchdown strike from McCarron. That was also the fourth time Green has scored in the past three games.
Even with McCarron set to make his first NFL start vs the 49ers, Green is a must-start this week.
RB Giovani Bernard
Neither running back did much last week against the Steelers once Dalton went out, but Giovani Bernard did manage to rip off some big plays and finished with 67 total yards (40 rushing, 27 receiving). The 49ers will most likely stack the box and force McCarron to beat them with his arm, which makes Bernard the better option over Jeremy Hill, who does almost all of his damage between the tackles.
Bernard has shown he can have big fantasy games just catching the ball, and with Tyler Eifert out, Bernard is going to be McCarron's safety valve early and often this week. Assuming Bernard is someone you've got in a flex or RB3 spot, he's definitely someone to keep playing, especially against a 49ers team defense giving up the most fantasy points to running backs this season, per FFToday.
TE Tyler Eifert
The Bengals will be without their starting tight end this week as Tyler Eifert sits out due to a concussion suffered during last week's loss. With him out, that makes guys like Green and Bernard more viable options, but don't bother playing Eifert's backup(s) in Tyler Kroft and h-back Ryan Hewitt.
QB Andy Dalton
A broken thumb will sideline Andy Dalton for not only this week, but likely the remainder of the regular season. At this point, Dalton shouldn't be on any fantasy roster.
QB AJ McCarron
The Bengals will turn to McCarron for the first time in his NFL career this week as the second-year man from Alabama makes his first professional start. But even after last week's two-touchdown, 280-yard performance against a much better Steelers defense than what he'll face vs the 49ers, he's too risky to play this week in what's likely a playoff elimination game.
Joe Manniello of Newsday also makes a good point of how good the 49ers defense is at home:
But the 49ers, or as I like to call them this week, the 4-9ers, have held offenses led by Aaron Rodgers (17), Matt Ryan (17) and Carson Palmer (19) to under 20 points in San Francisco.
San Francisco is also allowing the sixth-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks over the past three weeks, per FFToday. Keep McCarron on the bench this week and find a better option at quarterback.
WR Marvin Jones
During last week's loss to the Steelers, Marvin Jones managed six grabs for 61 yards. That's good, but not good enough to warrant playing him in a do-or-die playoff game. This also goes back to the point of not knowing what to expect from McCarron in his first NFL start, which makes any receiver other than Green a very risky play this week.
RB Jeremy Hill
As mentioned earlier, Hill is going to face a lot of loaded boxes this week as the 49ers dare McCarron to beat them. Hill is good, but not good enough to beat defenses when they're focused on shutting him down. He's not been focused on much this year with this offense being so good, but with Eifert and Dalton out, it will make Hill someone the 49ers will look to limit.