One of the highlights of Sunday’s late-afternoon window is an AFC North clash between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Or, in other words, a clash between a rookie franchise QB and the quarterback who currently has the longest tenure with one franchise in the NFL.
The Steelers (8-0) escaped Dallas with a 24-19 win in Week 9. They were outplayed by the short-handed Cowboys for three quarters until Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdowns in the final 15 minutes. JuJu Smith-Schuster had his best fantasy outing since Week 1 as he tallied six catches for 93 yards and a score. Chase Claypool turned in another useful box score: eight receptions on 13 targets for 69 yards. On the other end of the spectrum, running back James Conner flopped in what looked like a cake matchup. With the Steelers trailing for most of the afternoon, Conner took a backseat in the offense, played less than half of the offensive snaps and ended up with 20 total yards on 11 touches.
The Bengals (2-5-1) were on bye in Week 9. Last we saw them, they were besting the Titans, 31-20. This offense, led by Joe Burrow, has averaged slightly more than 30 points per game over its past three. They will be really tested to keep that string going against the Steelers’ defense, which ranks fourth in the league in scoring and hasn’t allowed 30 points in a game all season long.
Notable Statistical rankings (Football Outsiders)
Bengals: #31 overall — #25 offense, #29 defense, #10 special teams
Steelers: #4 overall — #15 offense, #2 defense, #11 special teams
Bengals: +7, +226
Steelers: -7, -265
Fantasy football start/sit advice
Joe Burrow, QB, $5,700
The Steelers made Garrett Gilbert, the AAF’s first and only Most Valuable Player, look like a serviceable NFL quarterback in Week 9. Burrow has a bevy of quality receiving options available to him and if his offensive line can give him time — the Steelers lead the league in sacks; the Bengals have allowed the second-most sacks — the rookie should return value at his price.
Joe Mixon, RB, $6,100
Even if Mixon can return from the foot injury that sidelined him in Weeks 7 and 8, this is definitely a time to fade him. He has scored fewer than 16 DraftKings points in all but one week, and the Steelers are giving up the fewest DK points per game this year.
Diontae Johnson, WR, $5,200
While Johnson, Claypool and Smith-Schuster are all healthy, odds are they will hold down each other’s fantasy value; there’s only so many targets to go around. Johnson is the cheapest of the three on DraftKings this week. He was decent in Week 9 with his 6-77-0 stat line on 10 targets. He can still break off a big play on a moment’s notice, so many he will be the wideout to top 100 yards against Cincy this week. The Bengals have seen a WR reach the century mark in each of their last three games.
Eric Ebron, TE, $4,400
A match made in heaven: A touchdown-reliant tight end facing off against a defense that hands out TDs to the position like candy. Specifically, Cincinnati has allowed six TE scores in its last four games. You may not like Ebron’s volume or yardage, but if you’re just looking for a tight end likely to find the end zone in Week 10, here’s a solid bet.