The fantasy playoffs are in full swing, and Thursday night's matchup for Week 15 could prove to be a frustrating evening for fantasy owners everywhere. Cincinnati takes on Philadelphia in a matchup that appears rather one-sided on paper.
Nick Foles managed to mount a comeback against the Buccaneers awful secondary last week, but the Bengals pose a much tougher test to the rookie quarterback. The Eagles defense allowed their fewest amount of points last Sunday since Week 5. Was it a change in trend or just an aberration?
Let's take a look at who you need to put in your starting lineup for Thursday night's game, and who you need to keep on the bench to kick off Week 15.
Andy Dalton, quarterback - The Eagles have allowed two or more passing touchdowns in seven straight games. His past two games weren't particularly impressive, but you have to like Dalton's matchup this week. Considering Philly ranks in the bottom of the league in fantasy points given up to opposing quarterbacks, Dalton is worth starting if you don't hold an elite option on your roster.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, running back - He missed four-straight 100-yard games by just 11 yards last week. The Law Firm continues to run well as of late, rushing for 437 yards and two touchdowns in his last four games. The Eagles allowed 232 yards and two scores on the ground over the past two weeks. Think it's a good idea to start Green-Ellis? I'd say so.
A.J. Green and Andrew Hawkins, wide receiver - Round 1 of the fantasy playoffs rolls around, and what does Green do? Disappears. Thanks a lot. Three receptions for 44 yards last week likely bounced a fair amount of his owners out of contention. Fortunately the Eagles hemorrhage points to opposing wideouts. You're still starting Green, like always. Hawkins is an interesting case. He's still a top option in the passing game with Mohamed Sanu out. He doesn't rack up the yards, but he's bound to find the end zone every now and then. Deeper leagues could consider him a flex play against the Eagles porous secondary. Don't bank on him winning the matchup for you, though.
Jermaine Gresham, tight end - Gresham has three touchdowns over the last six games. The Eagles have only allowed four touchdowns all year to opposing tight ends, but they are susceptible to giving up big points at times. Just look at Jason Witten's six-catch, 108-yard performance two weeks ago. Gresham holds TE2 value.
Bengals defense/special teams - Philly is actually averaging 26 points per game since Week 12. Cincy, though, is giving up just 15.5 points each week since its bye. The Bengals secondary is much tougher than what Foles saw last week, and even then he only scored his two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter. Expect a better outing from the Bengals D/ST, certainly worth starting.
Nick Foles, quarterback - Foles is making solid strides as a rookie starter. Sure, that 381-yard game last week against the worst pass defense was nice to see. He won't be posting the same numbers this time around, though, facing a Bengals defense that has allowed just two passing touchdowns in the past five games. Pass on Foles again.
Bryce Brown, running back - What an awful, awful display for the first round of the fantasy playoffs. Brown somehow rushed for six yards last week against the Bucs. Yep, six. The Bengals allow 105.5 rushing yards per game, ranking 11th in the league. Brown is capable of going off, but you certainly have to worry about that complete debacle from Week 14. He's still worth starting, maybe more as a flex play if you're leery of his production.
Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant, wide receiver - Maclin returned to fantasy relevance in Tampa, catching nine passes for 104 yards and a game-winning touchdown. Keep in mind, though, that even Avant finished with 133 yards, so let's temper our expectations here a bit. The Bengals have only allowed four touchdowns to opposing receivers since their Week 8 bye. It's tough to believe Avant will match his lofty numbers. Maclin is the No. 1 receiver here, so he's worth starting. Only look at Avant in deeper leagues, or if you're seriously hurting at wide receiver.
Clay Harbor, tight end - Brent Celek is out, leaving Harbor in control of the No. 1 tight end spot. He finished with 52 yards and a touchdown last Sunday, but given that Cincinnati hasn't allowed a tight end to score in five weeks, you can't feel too confident about Harbor. There are better options for the fantasy playoffs.
Eagles defense/special teams - Holding the Buccaneers to 21 points was the best outing we've seen from the Eagles defense in quite some time. Are we likely to see a repeat? Probably not. They still allow 26.2 point per game. The Bengals are fighting for a playoff spot, which shouldn't be a promising fact for the Eagles D/ST. Find another option.