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Bengals vs. Steelers: Fantasy starts and sits for Week 17

Even though the Bengals haven’t had much to cheer about, but that doesn’t mean your fantasy team has to let you down.

Oakland Raiders v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Week 17 is upon us, which means it is the last possible week for fantasy football.

Most leagues probably have ended by now, but there are still some leagues who prefer to play for all 17 weeks. The Bengals may not have many fantasy prospects in this game, but there are still plenty of players who should be in your lineup.

Must starts

James Conner (Steelers RB): Conner is currently listed as questionable, but he has been a full participant in practice throughout the week, so the odds of him playing are pretty high. He will be matched up against a defense that is fresh off struggling to slow down Nick Chubb. They also haven’t really stopped anyone from running the ball in recent weeks.

Favorable matchups

Joe Mixon (Bengals RB): Mixon was held back by the situation this offense is stuck in last week. The Browns shut him down by loading the box by knowing if they blitzed it would stop the run and pressure Jeff Driskel. The Steelers could easily replicate that same plan. Still, Mixon has had some good games against Pittsburgh, and he should have plenty of chances as the Bengals lone offensive weapon.

Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster (Steelers WR): You need to check Brown’s status before the game, as he has been questionable with a knee injury. It is hard to imagine him sitting out in such a crucial game though. Both of these guys have been pretty impossible to guard all year. Both had a huge game in Week 6 when Smith-Schuster had seven catches for 111 yards and Brown five catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. It shouldn’t be hard for them to put up similar numbers this week again.

Steelers defense: The Bengals looked lost for all but about eight minutes last week. The Steelers should have a far easier time getting to Driskel against the Bengals offensive line that doesn’t look like it really knows how to protect their quarterback, which should lead to some turnovers.

Good but not great

Vance McDonald (Steelers TE): McDonald had seven catches for 68 yards, which was one of his best games of the year. However, since then he hasn’t caught more than four catches in a game or had 50 yards in a game. It is hard to imagine Pittsburgh won’t take advantage of the Bengals weakness at linebacker with their season on the line.

Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers QB): Roethlisberger had a great game against the Bengals the last time the two teams met, but he only ended up with one touchdown on the day. That really limits his overall value when the main way a quarterback is going to get you points is with touchdowns. There are just better options out there.

C.J. Uzomah (Bengals TE): Uzomah was relevant again for the first time in a very long time against the Browns. However, it was garbage time where he did most of his work as he didn’t even have a target in the first half. Most of his production came on the drive where he had two catches including his touchdown late in the fourth quarter. It still isn’t ideal to expect anything from Uzomah again this week, but maybe they will learn that he can be relied on after last week.

Temper expectations

John Ross (Bengals WR): Ross added his seventh touchdown catch of the season last week, but it was his only catch of the game as his other two targets were wildly off target. It is rough because it has clearly been a struggle to get Ross and Driskel on the same page, but this is a good stepping stone going into Ross’ third season.

Jeff Driskel (Bengals QB): Driskel was the king or garbage time last week. He scored two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter, but he only threw for 133 yards. That just won’t get it done.

Bengals defense: Cincinnati has had issues keeping teams from getting in the end zone. With all the firepower the Steelers have it is hard to imagine that the Bengals defense will have a fantasy-worthy game.