The Steelers are on a bye this week. Which is nice for their fans, as they are GUARANTEED not to lose this week. On the bright side, the offense is showing sparks of life, with Antonio Brown on pace to shatter his previous season highs across the board, and Le’Veon Bell looking like, at the very least, a starting level NFL running back. So that’s an improvement.
Buffalo Bills at CLEVELAND BROWNS
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Thursday night game. If you started Brian Hoyer, I shed a solitary tear for you. Joking aside, we do wish Hoyer a speedy recovery. Jordan Cameron had a quiet game, hopefully Brandon Weeden will be able to find him in the near future. And Josh Gordon is already in “every week starter” form, with 4 catches for 86 yards and a TD. He also dropped what would have been a 90-yard TD on the first pass play of the game.
New England Patriots at CINCINNATI BENGALS
Dalton is an average quarterback, both in real life and in fantasy. In spite of (quietly) being on pace for over 4,000 yards and 20 TDs on the season, Dalton is simply too pedestrian to be an asset. With the weapons at his disposal, he should be much more effective. He has not broken 20 points in standard fantasy scoring this season, in spite of having an all-everything wide receiver lining up on the outside. And, this week, he faces a much improved New England defense, which is giving up just 14.2 points on average, good for 6th best in the league. Dalton’s line should be in the region of 275 yards, 1 TD and at least 1 pick.
Bernard is averaging 4.3 yards per carry, 10.1 yards per catch and has 3 TDs on the season. He might not be getting volume, but he’s electric enough to make them count. The Bengals getting him the ball in space is key to having a chance to win this game. While boasting a strong defense, the Pats are giving up almost 140 yards per game average on the ground. If he can get 12-15 touches, he has a real shot of putting up over 100 total yards.
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Green-Ellis has 2.7 yards per carry, 4.5 yards per catche and while he has 2 TDs on the year, it’s become apparent to anybody who has watched the Bengals that Bernard gives them a better chance of winning. Green-Ellis’ potential value lies in the Bengals taking a lead and needing to salt away the clock. Against the Patriots, this seems unlikely. However, with Vince Wilfork out, the Pats may not be as stout up the middle, where The Law Firm makes his money. And he ought to be motivated against his former team. He should have about 70-80 yards, and is 50/50 to score a TD.
The problem with being your team’s best wide receiver is that mostly, you face the opposition’s best corner. That’s been the case for Green all season, and he’s had mixed results. And so it will remain this week, with Green likely going against Aquib Talib for most of the game. While Green is perceived as having a “down” year, he’s still on pace for 1,200 yards and 12 TDs. Green is also averaging 12.5 targets PER GAME. All he needs is Dalton to find some consistency.
Mohamed Sanu/ Marvin Jones/ Brandon Tate
None of these guys are even worth bye week fill-in status.
Tyler Eifert / Jermaine Gresham
The Pats have been right in the middle of the pack for yards and TDs allowed to tight ends this season, and as in previous weeks, choosing between these two players is little more than a coin toss. Dalton trusts Gresham more, Eifert has more upside. Both should have around 50 yards, and we like Eifert to score this week.
Against the Patriots’ “bend but don’t break” defense, Nugent might see more field goal opportunities than usual this week. Expect 3-4 attempts.
Brady and the Patriots offense look to be rounding into form. With Amendola potentially returniing this week, expect that trend to continue. We recommend you look to the waiver wire this week if you own the Bengals D/ST.
BALTIMORE RAVENS at Miami Dolphins
Flacco finds himself in a similar situation as Dalton, albeit for different reasons. While Flacco has nothing close to the weapons Dalton has available to him, he did just sign a monster contract with the presumption that he would subsequently carry the team. With more interceptions than touchdowns and a 69.4 passer rating on the season, it’s fair to say Flacco hasn’t lived up to those expectations. Miami have given up a lot of yardage through the air, but rank in the middle of the pack in yards allowed. Flacco is in the QB-20 range this week, until he proves otherwise.
5 carries, 17 yards, 0 catches. Rice’s stat line from last week is truly shocking, and untenable for the future if the Ravens want to win. Ostensibly, at least, they’ve acknowledged that fact, and vow to change it for this week. That would be smart. Although Miami has been decent against the run, if Rice gets the workload he deserves, he should see over 100 total yards and a TD.
Pierce has not lived up to his preseason sleeper status, averaging just 2.7 yards per carry on the season. But after Flacco attempted 50 passes last week, expect a heavy dose of the ground game. Pierce is a marginal flex play this week.
In week 4 Smith finally pushed over the hump he’s been so close to all season. He’d averaged over 5 catches per week, and around 90 yards. Last week he took it up to 166 yards and added a touchdown. He’s refined his game, running better routes and using his speed to set up defenders rather than just trying to blow by them. He should realistically see almost 100 yards per game and is 50/50 to score a TD each game as Flacco’s only viable target in the passing game. This game ought to be one in which he does score.
Other Ravens WRs
Marlon Brown, Brandon Stokeley, Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson. Sure, one might go off, but please don’t consider starting any of these players this week.
Ed Dickson / Dallas Clark
Harbaugh called out Dickson this week, and rightly so. He’s a talented player, but on the field he looks anything other than talented. Clark’s upside is 60 yards. Try to avoid either this week.
Outside of week 2, Tucker is perfect on the year. A perpetual top-10 option.
Outside of week 1, the Ravens D/ST has had a quietly effective season. This week they go up against a Miami O-line giving up the most sacks in the league, coming off a short week. A top-6 option this week.