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Fantasy Football Picks: Steelers vs. Bengals DraftKings NFL DFS MNF Showdown Strategy

Julian Edlow preps you for Monday’s 8:15 p.m. ET NFL contest between the Steelers and Bengals with game-script analysis and DraftKings Captain’s Picks.

After remaining undefeated into December, the Steelers have dropped consecutive games entering Week 15. However, this is about as strong of a bounce-back spot as you could ask for, sitting as double-digit favorites in Cincinnati. Let’s breakdown some DFS angles for the showdown slate.

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $2.25M Monday Night Showdown [$1M to 1st] (PIT vs CIN)

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Pittsburgh Steelers

The Bengals aren’t bad on the defensive side of the ball, it’s just tough to imagine them putting up enough points to beat the Steelers. Going back to the last matchup in Pittsburgh in mid-November, a 36-10 win for the Steelers, the Bengals are averaging 10 points per game over their last five — and have scored just seven points in consecutive games without Joe Burrow. As you’d imagine, the Steelers’ DST ($7,200) costs a pretty penny.

Pittsburgh has really been letting Ben Roethlisberger ($11,800) air it out, passing 46 times against the Bengals in the last matchup, making it four out of his last five games with at least 46 attempts. Roethlisberger scored a season-high 32 DKFP in that game, with 333 yards and four touchdowns. Even if this is a grinder of a game, we need to spend somewhere, and Roethlisberger is the safest piece.

The WRs have had a serious case of the drops recently, but they’re still priced up in this spot. Diontae Johnson ($10,200) is coming off an awful game in Buffalo, but should get a chance to redeem himself. Prior to last week, Johnson had been targeted 10-plus times in five straight games and finished with a 6-116-1 line (26.6 DKFP) in Week 10 against Cincy.

JuJu Smith-Schuster ($10,000) has had a down year compared to the expectations but has found the end zone in four of his last six. The Bengals defensive scheme should favor JuJu, though, and we saw that play out with 13 targets the last time around. He hauled in a 9-77-1 line (22.7 DKFP) and is a safe play on this slate. Chase Claypool ($8,600) at least provides a little bit of a discount, but the rookie has fallen off hard during the losing streak. Claypool has just five receptions for 53 yards the last two weeks combined and hasn’t been all that efficient in the second half of the season. He did finish with 21.3 DKFP in Week 10 against the Bengals, but it wasn’t all that efficient — he brought in just four of 10 targets for 56 yards, but found the end zone twice.

The best discount on the Pittsburgh side is James Washington ($4,400). Washington has been stepping in for more snaps over the last couple of weeks with all of the drops the starters are having, and he’s been trustworthy with a touchdown in each week.

Eric Ebron ($6,400) is a decent way to get a discount on exposure to the passing game. He was a dud in the first matchup against Cincy, which hopefully causes others to overlook him. Since that game, Ebron has scored 12-plus DKFP in three of four and has been targeted 11 times in two of the last three contests. The Bengals have allowed the second-most DKFP to the TE position this season.

Outside of rushing for 89 yards against Jacksonville in Week 11, James Conner ($6,600) has had almost no success in the second half of the season — that includes 36 yards on 13 carries against the Bengals, and then just 18 yards on 10 carries in his return from injury in Week 14 against the Bills. Conner is questionable for this one. If he plays, I have zero interest. The run game could bounce-back against a middle-of-the-pack Cincy run defense, but I don’t want to trust an injured RB late in the season. If Conner were ruled out, Benny Snell ($6,200) becomes an interesting consideration.

Chris Boswell ($4,000) is worth considering if this does wind up being a low-scoring game.

Cincinnati Bengals

This offense is as bad as it gets right now, so finding targets against one of the NFL’s top defenses is a tough task. Brandon Allen (knee) has been ruled out, so now Ryan Finley ($8,000) will get his shot against the defense allowing the fewest DKFP to QB this season. Since the Burrow injury, Finley has completed 10-of-19 passes for 75 yards and two interceptions — so just about any production would be welcomed. But at his salary, I can’t justify rostering him.

Tyler Boyd ($8,400) and Tee Higgins ($6,800) had both been able to maintain some kind of value with Allen at QB, but now we have to see what they’re able to do with Finley. Roster them in tournaments at your own risk. There’s not really much data we can go on here — they’re playing a strong defense with an awful QB.

If A.J. Green ($5,400) were still $2,800 like he was last week, I’d say we can consider him as a punt play. But an unexpected 6-62-1 line (18.2 DKFP) with Allen at QB shot his salary up almost $3,000. Green was also held catch-less on five targets in the first matchup against Pittsburgh.

I’d expect Gio Bernard ($5,600) to be a somewhat popular play, especially since we need to roster at least one Bengal. He’s the cheapest we’ve seen him since Week 7 and should get some work in the ground game — and more importantly, plenty of check downs if the game script we expect holds.

Drew Sample ($4,200) has had some success in recent weeks as well, but the Steelers have allowed the fewest DKFP to TE, so there’s risk involved there as well.

Austin Seibert ($3,600) and Bengals D/ST ($2,200) are also considerations. While most of the production should come from the Steelers’ side, there are viable punt plays.


The Steelers shouldn’t have to do much to get out of this one with a victory. I want to captain a cheaper play with a lot of upside on Pittsburgh, helping me fit Roethlisberger with a couple of his expensive WRs. Rostering Eric Ebron ($9,600 CPT) or James Washington ($6,600 CPT) helps provide that space.

Final Score: Pittsburgh 23, Cincinnati 9

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $2.25M Monday Night Showdown [$1M to 1st] (PIT vs CIN)

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