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Bengals at Steelers: Fantasy football starts and sits

A look at who should be in your lineup when the Bengals play the Steelers on Monday Night Football.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Bengals play the Steelers on Monday night football, and they are battling for their first win of the season. Hopefully you aren’t in the same boat with your fantasy team this week. If you are we have the players from the prime time matchup that should be in your lineup.

Also, a friendly reminder that if you have a player playing on Monday Night Football (or any late game really) that you should always throw them in your flex position (or positions depending on the league).

Here is an example of why this is important. Say a running back is a late scratch on Monday. All the Sunday games have been played so pickings to replace him are already low. You go to the waiver wire, and your best option is the backup to the backup running back because someone else already owns the backup.

You also see a receiver playing that night who is at least start, but because your injured running back isn’t in the flex spot you can’t make that move. Essentially, it shouldn’t matter 99 percent of the time, but you will kick yourself that one percent of the time.

Must starts

Tyler Boyd, WR, Steelers: He has been Andy Dalton’s most consistent safety blanket. He has at least six catches in at least each of his games. He hasn’t reached the end zone yet, but here is a stat fantasy players should take into account when playing Boyd this week.

Favorable matchups

James Conner, RB, Steelers: The only reason Conner isn’t a must start is because he hasn’t had a game of over 100 total yards yet, and he only has one touchdown on the season. Fortunately for fantasy players who have Conner, the Bengals haven’t slowed any running backs down. They give uo 29.5 points to opposing running backs per game, according to Fantasy Pros. This seems like a week where you get the production you expected you’d get from Conner this season.

Joe Mixon. RB, Bengals: Mixon finally had a fantasy worthy game with 94 total yards and his first touchdown of the season on Sunday. The Steelers’ defense also has given up the fourth most points to opposing running backs in fantasy (just behind the Bengals), so as long as Cincinnati decides to feed Mixon, he should be in line for a decent outing.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers: Smith-Schuster has been working hard to try and pull fantasy relevant games out so far this season. He is no longer working under Antonio Brown’s coattails. He is out in the spotlight, and in points per reception leagues he has been solid, but not outstanding. Last week, he saved his fantasy day by taking a simple slant route 76 yards for a touchdown. It seems with Mason Rudolph as his quarterback and all the defense’s attention being on him has really capped his fantasy potential.

Good but not great matchups

John Ross, WR, Bengals: After last week’s goose egg I had to drop Ross down. It seems like his ceiling is what we saw in the first two weeks where he led the NFL in receiving, and his floor was last week where he had 2 catches for just over 20 yards and a fumble. If you are okay with that risk in your flex, then start him, but that more depends on how risky you want to be as a fantasy player. Boom or bust has never been a more appropriate term to describe a player.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: Dalton had a rough go of it in Buffalo last week, but to be fair, he won’t be seeing that same caliber of secondary again this week. He still had two touchdowns last week (one rushing and one passing), which has been the most reliable thing about Dalton so far. I would say it is safe to expect around 300 yards passing and 2 touchdowns this week, but the question becomes how many interceptions will Dalton throw in the process?

Steelers defense against the Bengals: Odds are someone still owns this defense and is playing it every week because they are holding onto that old ideal of the Steelers dominant defense. They just aren’t that same defense. They have created a number of turnovers, but several of those are fluky mishandled snaps and handoffs by the 49ers and Seahawks. They have given up at least 24 points in every game, and they only have six sacks on the season. You’re banking on a Dalton meltdown game if you play them.

Bengals defense against the Steelers: Honestly, the defenses playing against the Steelers’ offense should be pretty playable going forward. Rudolph didn’t look great, and some heroics by the players around him have saved that from being a major storyline. The thing is you just can’t trust Cincinnati’s defense that much in fantasy. They are beat up, and aside from the Seattle game, they haven’t played to a level where you’d feel great about trusting them. That being said, the matchup this weeks makes them a desperation option if you were late to adding your defense off the waiver wire this week.

Diontae Johnson and James Washington, WR, Steelers: These guys are borderline sittable, and if you feel good about anyone else over them do not hesitate. Johnson caught a 39-yard touchdown last week, but that was more due to a very bad play by the defender letting him run uncovered. Washington also has a connection with Rudolph going back to college, but he only had four targets last week. There are reasons to think these guys may hit a big play or two, but you are relying on that, because they are just as likely to get you two receptions for under 20 yards with the way the offense ran against the 49ers.

Just sit them

Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals: You could easily make the argument at this point that EIfert is used far too sparingly. I get they want to keep him healthy, but you are 0-3, and a healthy Eifert only has nine catches for 54 yards and a touchdown over three games where A.J. Green has also been out. That is pretty unacceptable, and Eifert is nothing more than a touchdown dependent option this week.

Mason Rudolph, QB, Steelers: If it wasn’t for the 49ers falling completely asleep on one of his wide open touchdowns and Smith-Schuster putting the team on his back for another, Rudolph would’ve had plenty of explaining to do. He threw for 174 yards last week, and barely any of his passes went down field. You have better options on the waiver wire. I don’t care if you’re in a two quarterback league, you have better options.