Monday Night Football
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
Team Totals: Steelers 24, Bengals 19
Ben Roethlisberger enters Week 13 with top-12 fantasy results in four straight games to face his stiffest challenge since these teams last met in Week 7, when Roethlisberger posted his highest passer rating of the season (117.4) in Pittsburgh’s 29-14 home-game rout of Cincinnati. Roethlisberger is never as safe a fantasy bet on the road, but he is tough to get away from based on his improved on-field play and the Bengals’ allowance of top-15 finishes to five of their last six quarterbacks faced, including DeShone Kizer’s season highs in passing yards (268), yards per attempt (8.65), and QB rating (86.5) last week. Showing a consistently high floor, Big Ben hasn’t finished worse than QB15 since Week 6. … Le’Veon Bell set consecutive season highs in targets (11, 14) in Weeks 11-12 and now draws a Bengals defense that has allowed the NFL’s fourth-most catches (68) to running backs and yielded Bell’s second-highest receiving-yardage total of the year (58) in Week 7. Although Cincinnati has defended the run stoutly for the most part on an efficiency basis, Marvin Lewis’ defense has given up 110-plus rushing yards in six straight games and coughed up a 22/130/5.91/0 rushing line to Browns backs last week. Bell has scored 22-of-31 (71%) career rushing TDs in away games, including all five of his 2017 scores.
Big Ben’s target distribution since the Steelers’ Week 9 bye: Antonio Brown 32; Le’Veon 31; Martavis Bryant and JuJu Smith-Schuster 15; Jesse James 14; Eli Rogers 8; Vance McDonald 2. … Cincinnati annually poses Brown’s toughest matchups, having held him to stat lines of 3/58/0 > 4/39/0 > 7/87/0 > 6/47/1 > 4/65/1 in these teams’ last five meetings. Just one wideout has topped 65 yards against the Bengals since Week 3. … With Smith-Schuster on the shelf last week, Bryant established an eight-week high in routes run (49) on his second-highest snap rate (80%) of the season. In a tough draw, Bryant’s WR3/flex viability hinges on Smith-Schuster’s availability. … If Smith-Schuster goes, he will be a shaky bet as a rookie battling a hamstring injury against Cincinnati’s stout pass defense. … With McDonald (ankle, knee) due back, the Steelers’ tight end rotation can be ignored for streamer purposes.
After surprisingly waking up Brett Hundley due to various defensive busts in last week’s 31-28 win, the Steelers get a chance to right the ship against a Cincinnati offensive line that ranks 26th in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Sack Rate and has allowed the NFL’s 12th-most sacks (28). When these clubs met in Week 7, Andy Dalton took four sacks and threw two picks, managing an anemic 140 yards on 30 pass attempts. Dalton’s last two fantasy results against Steelers DC Keith Butler’s defense are QB20 > QB24, finishing below 160 passing yards in both. Dalton is a two-quarterback-league starter only facing a Pittsburgh defense that ranks second in sacks (38) and has held seven of its last ten quarterbacks faced to QB15 results or worse. … Joe Mixon also catches a tough draw after last week’s season-best game, facing a Steelers defense that has held running backs to a paltry 105/316/3.10/1 rushing line in its last six games while ranking a middling 17th in receiving yards (472) allowed to the position, a number Jamaal Williams single-handedly spiked on last week’s perfectly-designed 54-yard screen-pass score. Despite his stingy opponent, Mixon is a volume-based RB2 play at worst with 20-plus touches in consecutive games. Mixon set season highs in playing time (75%) and touches (26) in last week’s eruption against Cleveland.
Dalton’s targets since the Bengals’ Week 6 bye: A.J. Green 39; Brandon LaFell 35; Tyler Kroft 25; Mixon 18; Giovani Bernard 14; Josh Malone 10; Alex Erickson 5; Tyler Boyd 3; John Ross 2. … This is an eruption spot for Green against a Joe Haden-less Pittsburgh secondary that has fallen apart, yielding big plays and box scores to Marvin Jones (6/128/0), Rishard Matthews (5/113/1), Chester Rogers (6/104/1), T.J. Jones (4/88/0), Golden Tate (7/86/0), Davante Adams (5/82/1), and Donte Moncrief (1/60/1) in its last four games. … LaFell has failed to reach 50 yards in 10-of-11 games despite playing 88% of the Bengals’ snaps. … Delanie Walker in Week 11 (6/92/0) is the lone tight end to clear 60 yards against the Steelers this year, and Kroft has cleared 50 in just 2-of-11 games. Kroft is a touchdown-or-bust streamer facing a Pittsburgh defense surrending the NFL’s third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends.
Score Prediction: Steelers 24, Bengals 20
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