When the Bengals visit the Patriots this weekend, it will feature a matchup between two of the NFL’s top teams from last season. Both the Bengals and Patriots finished 12-4 and won their divisions in the 2015 season. Both teams also finished in the top 3 in scoring in the AFC last season, so each roster should be filled with fantasy football starters, right? Well, let’s take a look.
ABSOLUTELY START THESE PLAYERS
A.J. Green (Bengals WR) is a player who I am going to be a broken record on this season. If he is playing, he is starting on your fantasy team. He is currently in the top seven players in fantasy scoring for receivers, and even higher in a PPR. His 518 receiving yards trails only former teammate Marvin Jones’ 519 yards after five weeks.
Rob Gronkowski (Patriots TE) was reunited with Tom Brady in Week 5 and responded with 109 receiving yards. The Bengals’ safeties have been suspect this year when it comes to coverage - especially with the Patriots bringing two good pass catching tight ends into the game. We’ll let you do the math.
LeGarrette Blount (Patriots RB) production from the first three weeks has predictably fallen now that Brady has returned. Despite this, he gets a home game against a team who has struggled to stop running backs on the road. In three road games, the Bengals have allowed Matt Forte, DeAngelo Williams, and Ezekiel Elliott to compile over 150 total yards per game, one touchdown per game, and a 4.7 yards per carry average. In fantasy terms, that’s over 20 points per game - yikes!
Tom Brady (Patriots QB) faces a defense that does a good job in limiting opposing quarterbacks in completion percentage, and a solid job in limiting passing yards. But the Bengals are one of the worst teams in passing touchdowns allowed. Depending on who else you have on your roster, Brady is almost a must start.
Martellus Bennett (Patriots TE) gets to face a defense that has given up touchdowns to tight ends John Phillips, Xavier Grimble, and Jesse James. Bennett is a much better receiver than any of them, and gets the benefit of the Bengals’ defense needing to focus on Gronkowski. Even as his team’s “second” tight end, he could produce well.
MEH, IF YOU MUST
Julian Edelman (Patriots WR) is a player I wasn’t very high on this year, but I didn’t think he would be this bad. After five weeks, he has zero touchdowns and hasn’t reached 40 receiving yards since Week 2. The Bengals have shown an ability to give up passing touchdowns this season, but the way the Patriots change their offense every week, any passing touchdowns could go to feast or famine receiver Chris Hogan, as well as Edelman.
Jeremy Hill/Giovani Bernard (Bengals RB) are going against a defense that has given up only two rushing touchdowns in five games. With the two of them splitting the load against a solid run defense, it could be another disappointing game from both of them. With Hill dealing with a chest injury, Bernard is the better option of the two this week, especially as he’ll look to play a factor as a receiver, too.
Brandon LaFell (Bengals WR) scored his first two touchdowns last week, but that was in garbage time, once the game was out of hand. He’s not a viable weekly start.
Andy Dalton (Bengals QB) is a sit in most fantasy formats. Facing the Patriots on the road isn’t exactly a great matchup for him. His only saving grace is that the Bengals could be playing from behind, forcing a lot of passes.
Tyler Eifert (Bengals TE) will not make his 2016 debut in New England. He continues to sit out and as such, he should be sitting on your bench. Maybe next week, Eifert owners... Maybe.