Monday Night Football Matchups and Starts/Sits (Week 13)

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RotoBallers – another week, another Monday! And a big Monday at that, as many fantasy owners take their final stab at a playoff spot.

Coming off of the lowest-scoring Monday night game since Week 6, the football gods have blessed us with plenty of fantasy goodness as the red-hot Steelers travel to Cincinnati to face the 5-6 Bengals. It starts with two of the league's most consistent performers in Antonio Brown and Le'veon Bell, but it certainly doesn't stop there either. Steelers' rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has taken the league (and Twitter) by storm, and AJ Green is seemingly back on track after a midseason lull in production.

In terms of the game implications itself, the (yet again) average Bengals are looking to stay alive in the AFC playoff picture. Coming off back-to-back wins against very bad Browns and Broncos teams, a third straight would put Marvin Lewis' team right back to where they know best at .500. As for Pittsburgh, much of their success this year has been about what they've done away from Pittsburgh, with just one loss on the road in 2017. They'll look to make it five straight road wins, and seven overall, to keep pace with the Patriots as the AFC's best team at 10-2.

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Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals

Date and Start Time: Monday, December 4th at 8:30 p.m. EST

Game Spread: Steelers -5

Notables from Injury Report:

  • Antonio Brown (WR, PIT) - Toe - Questionable
  • Joe Haden (CB, PIT) - Fibula - OUT
  • Mike Mitchell (S, PIT) - Ankle - Doubtful

 
Offensive and Defensive Rankings (based on per game stats through Week 12):

Steelers Bengals
Passing Yards 4th 26th
Rushing Yards 20th 32nd
Pass Defense 2nd 5th
Run Defense 6th 29th

 
 

Must Starts

Top Players That You Should Have In Your Lineup

Antonio Brown (WR, PIT)

Assuming he plays, there's not much that needs to be said here. The Steelers have reportedly been preparing to play without Brown, but I'll believe it when I see it. Coming off consecutive 40-point weeks in PPR leagues, AB remains the league's best, most consistent receiver. The Cincinnati pass defense is surprisingly good, but the best wide receiver in all of fantasy is matchup-proof. Lock and load.

Le'veon Bell (RB, PIT)

Another one that goes without saying, but it's worth noting that Bell hasn't scored a touchdown since October. That's mostly irrelevant since his involvement and production level is so high, but just think about what he'd be doing if he was actually finding the end zone. He's secured under 20 touches in only Week 1 this year, and I wouldn't rule out a second-straight 30+ touches against a weak Cincinnati front seven, especially on the off-chance that Brown is a no-go.

AJ Green (WR, CIN)

It's been a bit of an up and down season for AJ Green. Looking like a surefire elite WR1 through Week 5, he came crashing back down to earth with three sub-50 yard, sub-3 catch performances in a row, including one catch for six yards Week 9 in Jacksonville. Since then though, Green has bounced back to trustworthiness and has two scores in the last three weeks to boot. His target volume still isn't back to where it was, but he should be good for at least 4-5 catches tonight with the potential to break any of them for a big one. He's not back to WR1 status yet in my eyes, but I'd still fire him up without hesitation.

 

Must Sits

Players To Avoid Putting In Your Lineup

Gio Bernard (RB, CIN)

Similar to Green, Bernard's first few weeks of the season were his best. The difference is, he never bounced back to fantasy relevancy since the drop off. Joe Mixon has emerged as the team's best backfield option, and Bernard has eclipsed five touches just once since Week 7. Made of the Danny Woodhead mold that makes for a great, undervalued PPR option, Bernard is no longer even that. He's made more than one catch just one time since Week 5.

Either Team's Tight End

The best tight end on either team's roster is Tyler Eifert, who went through season-ending back surgery for the Bengals in mid-October. His replacement, Tyler Kroft, has had a handful of strong weeks, but hasn't totaled even 20 yards receiving in either of the last three weeks. Steeler's tight end Jesse James has been nothing to write home about either, but could be worth a dart throw if (and only if) Brown doesn't go tonight.

 

Solid Options/Sleepers

Which Players Will Have Solid Games and Which Could Surprise?

Solid Option - JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, PIT)

A guy that is nearly impossible not to love, JuJu's consistency over the last few weeks vaults him from sleeper to solid option. He's a legit WR3 with upside in any given week, and even more without AB.

Solid Option - Joe Mixon (RB, CIN)

Last week may have finally been the Joe Mixon breakout week that everyone was waiting for. With 165 total yards and a score against Cleveland, he showed why he's the Bengals best option out of the backfield. The Steelers have had a great defense this year, but they have a thing for keeping games close than they should be, which means Mixon could be more involved than anticipated.

Solid Option - Ben Roethlisberger (QB, PIT)

Big Ben on the road is no longer a thing that you need to avoid. He hasn't thrown more than two touchdowns in any road game this year, but he hasn't thrown more than one interception either. He seems almost incapable of putting up a huge performance away from Heinz Field, but I'd treat him as a low-end QB1 this week anyway.

Sleeper - Martavis Bryant (WR, PIT)

Speaking of up and down seasons (see: AJ Green), nobody has had quite the season that Bryant has, who started the season as a breakout candidate, only to be benched a few weeks later after vocalizing displeasure, and now listed back on the depth chart on catching passes. Drama aside, Bryant should be good for a few catches tonight, but has the potential for much, much more if he ends up listed as the team's #2 wideout come game time.

Sleeper - Andy Dalton (QB, CIN)

If you drafted Andy Dalton in the later rounds this summer with hopes that he could end up as a legit QB1, you aren't alone. Nonetheless, here we are in December and he's only thrown for 250+ yards in two games this year. The reason I have him listed here though, is because he's been taking care of the ball as of late. I know that the Pittsburgh defense isn't Cleveland, but he hasn't thrown an INT in five games and has nine touchdowns in that time. He has obvious more risk than Big Ben, but I think Dalton has a chance to end up as a back-end QB1 this week.

 

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