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Bengals vs. Rams: Fantasy football starts and sits

What Rams do you own? Because there is a good chance you should be playing them.

Los Angeles Rams v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The Bengals and Rams will be playing in London this Sunday. Probably just as important to remember is that Zac Taylor is facing off against a team he helped coach the offense for for two years, so if anyone is equipped with the knowledge on how to derail this offense, it is Taylor. However, the big issue is whether the defense is equipped with enough talent to pull that off. Sometimes in fantasy football is best to not over think these things.

Must starts

Todd Gurley, RB, Rams: Gurley is struggling by Gurley standards. His rushing totals have really taken a nose dive, and he is in much more of a duel running back offense. This is great for his overall health throughout the season, but it hasn’t helped anyone’s fantasy season. Still, the Bengals are the best matchup for opposing running backs, according to Fantasy Pros. They have also made other teams who have struggled to move the ball look good already this season, so there is no reason to think Gurley won’t have his best game of the season.

Jared Goff, QB, Rams: The Bengals give up the fifth most points to opposing quarterbacks. Cincinnati gets a boost with William Jackson returning to the secondary, but they lost Darqueze Dennard who returned last week from the PUP list. With Dre Kirkpatrick still out as well it is hard to believe the Bengals secondary will have enough quality guys to cover the Rams three top receivers. Goff should be a pretty big beneficiary of the situation.

Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams: It is hard to say which Rams receiver will have the best day, but Kupp is by far the safest option. He leads the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns by significant margins. If B.W. Webb is still playing with one arm in a cast he will have his only good hand full with Kupp all day long.

Favorable matchups

Rams defense against the Bengals: Andre Smith and John Miller are questionable for Sunday’s game, but even if they return Cincinnati has shown nothing to prove they can handle the pass rush that will be waiting for them in London. When you combine that with the Bengals’ running game basically being nonexistent, and we have the makings for a possible implosion that fantasy players dream of getting from their defense.

Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals: You may notice that the Bengals aren’t well represented in the early sections of who to play, and that is with good reason. They have almost no one who is playable. Honestly, the only reason Boyd is even here is because of his volume. He had 14 targets last week and a total of 35 over the past three weeks. He is facing Jalen Ramsey this week, which is never something you want to see as a fantasy player, but if you are in a PPR league then Boyd has flex value just based on how often he will get opportunities.

Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, WRs, Rams: These two are hard to place. They are high ceiling guys who could just as easily have a quiet day based on how out of hand this game gets early. The one advantage Cooks has is that he is often worked into the offense with things like jets sweeps, end-arounds and screens. Those are plays the Bengals’ defense have really struggled with. Woods does have the advantage in catches on the season, though, with nine more receptions. I’d prefer Cooks, but Woods should also be in your lineup unless you have some pretty safe options.

Gerald Everett, TE, Rams: This guy has come alive over the past three weeks. He has two games with over 10 targets in that span as well as a touchdown and over 190 receiving yards. It is hard to say which passing threats will be left picking at the scraps, but there really isn’t a reason to have Everett out of your lineup this week unless you have a top end guy.

Good but not great

Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals: This one is hard. Bengals fans love this guy, and many people probably drafted him to be their top running back for fantasy this season (this guy included). However, it is hard to ignore that this running game has taken a nose dive over the past two weeks where Mixon has run for a combined 12 yards on 18 carries. Even in the receiving game he barely has over 30 yards with his only saving grace being a receiving touchdown. If you have been able to gather a decent set of running backs via trades or waiver wire pickups then there is no reason to play Mixon over them. With the reality of the situation being he is still a starting running back he still has flex value based on volume and opportunity. Hopefully changes are made during the bye week.

Auden Tate, WR, Bengals: Last week we saw Erickson have a career day, and many fantasy players probably are betting on Erickson over Tate now. They shouldn’t though. Erickson should still be involved in the offense, but believe it or not the Jaguars worked to take Tate out of the game by double covering him at times. Who knows if that will be the same plan for the Rams this week, but even facing that Tate had six targets with three catches for 65 yards. He is still probably the favorite between Erickson and himself to end up with redzone targets as well. Tate has almost become Andy Dalton’s Marvin Jones over the past couple of weeks, and that can’t be ignored in fantasy. In PPR leagues he has pretty stable flex value.

Just sit them

Alex Erickson, WR, Bengals: Beware the career game. Too often fantasy players go off and chase points. Just because Erickson had eight catches for 137 yards last week doesn’t mean much this week. His 14 targets last week is one less than his combined targets for the entire season before that. He nearly doubled his career total in yards as well. Most of Erickson’s yards came during a time when Cincinnati’s entire offense looked disinterested. When he started catching passes you could see Dalton look his way, and before halftime was when he did most of his damage. After that we didn’t hear a whole lot from him. I don’t want to completely dismiss the possibility of him repeating his performance this week, but so much of fantasy football is about the probability of a guy doing well. There are just way safer options out there outside of the Bengals’ third receiver.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: We saw a vintage meltdown by Dalton last week with three interceptions in the fourth quarter in just four throws. He probably won’t repeat that. but you want to play him and hope for a rushing touchdown and a single passing touchdown?

Bengals defense against the Rams: The Bengals defense gets a worse reputation than they deserve, but they still aren’t good. They are also pretty banged up. No reason to play this defense in fantasy.

Bengals tight ends: Unless the Bengals end up moving Tyler Eifert before the trade deadline, there is no reason to really gamble by playing any of these guys. A three tight end committee kills any value these guys may have on their own.