Week 9 is already upon us, and it kicks off with the Cincinnati Bengals traveling to Miami to face the Dolphins. In 2012, it was Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins on the road facing the Bengals, ending in a 17-13 Miami win. Tannehill threw for 223 yards and no touchdowns. Andy Dalton threw for 234 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. A.J. Green was really the only fantasy performer the last time the two teams face one another.
In 2013, the Bengals are coming off of four straight wins while the Dolphins are dealing with four straight losses. One team will look to continue their streak while the other looks to break a disappointing string of losses. As usual, we are here to take a look at the fantasy implications as we begin Week 9 of the NFL season.
Andy Dalton: He's been on a hot streak among the top fantasy quarterbacks since Week 6. Dalton will certainly be challenged against Miami this week, which has given up the 10th fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks this season. Regardless of the match up, Dalton is a legitimate QB1 moving forward. He's thrown for over 300 yards for three weeks in a row along with 11 total touchdowns. If you're dealing with a bye week at quarterback, or just a very tough match up, start Dalton with confidence.
Running backs: The Bengals have surprisingly abandoned the run game as part of their game plan over the past several weeks. However, they focused on the passing game against the Detroit Lions and New York Jets -- two teams that have given up a decent amount of production to opposing receivers. The Dolphins are currently giving up the 4th most fantasy points to running backs. Giovani Bernard can be started as a RB2 with confidence. As usual, Bernard holds some extra value in PPR leagues. BenJarvus Green-Ellis will be counted on for tough yards and possibly some goal line carries. Keep in mind that Green-Ellis failed to punch it into the end zone with several attempts in Week 8. He's a low-end flex play in deeper leagues.
Wide receivers: A.J. Green continues to be a strong WR1 play on a weekly basis. The Dolphins are tough on fantasy wide receivers, but Green remains a must-start in all formats. Even though he didn't find the end zone in Week 8, Green managed 115 yards while fellow receiver Marvin Jones amassed four touchdown receptions. Jones is the hottest waiver wire grab after managing 122 yards with his impressive four-touchdown performance. He's worth a start as a WR3 for Week 9 after scoring for three consecutive weeks.
Tight ends: Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert continue to cannibalize one another from a fantasy perspective. In Week 7, Eifert scored a touchdown. In Week 9, Gresham found the end zone. If you're in a jam at the position, either tight end could fill in with potential to find the end zone. Both should be considered a TE2 despite how generous Miami has been to tight ends.
Defense/ Special teams: Cincinnati was a top defense in Week 8, and their success will likely continue against a Miami offense that has given up the 9th most fantasy points to opposing defenses. Even with the loss of cornerback Leon Hall, the Bengals were able to capitalize on Geno Smith with two interceptions returned for touchdowns. While it's unlikely that Ryan Tannehill will make the same rookie errors, the Bengals are tough up front. They'll limit scoring opportunities and find ways to get to the quarterback. Cincinnati should be considered a top-five start in most formats.
Ryan Tannehill: He's having issues behind his offensive line, and Cincinnati's defense will focus on Miami's weakness up front. Tannehill is a QB2 against a defense climbing the fantasy ranks in points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. The Bengals will force Tannehill to make quick decisions and likely create a turnover or two. The Bengals were able to limit both Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady just several weeks ago. There are much better fantasy options than Tannehill in Week 9, so look elsewhere.
Running backs: Lamar Miller is a flex option that deserves to be in the discussion as a RB2. Unfortunately, the Dolphins aren't giving Miller enough opportunities. He had a great all-purpose performance against the New England Patriots in Week 8, but the Bengals are currently giving up the 6th fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. Between the tough match up and the threat of Daniel Thomas siphoning a touchdown opportunity or two, Miller is a risky flex play in Week 9.
WIde receivers: Mike Wallace wants the ball more in Miami, but he'll remain a shaky low-end WR3 until his demands are met. With Brandon Gibson's season ending with a torn patellar tendon, Wallace may see more targets against an average Bengals secondary. It remains to be seen if Gibson off the field leads to more production for Wallace. There's a chance that Brian Hartline could take some of Gibson's looks on the field. Hartline will be a WR3 in PPR leagues with a slight downgrade in standard formats. Rishard Matthews is a receiver worth monitoring on Thursday. Matthews is filling in for Gibson as a slot receiver and has the opportunity to see a lot of targets if he can overcome his inexperience against the Bengals.
Tight ends: Charles Clay has been a pleasant surprise in 2013. He's getting close to five catches a game and has four total touchdowns on the season. He's a low-end TE1 start against the Bengals, who are missing their starting middle linebacker Rey Maualuga for the next several weeks.
Defense/ Special teams: Miami is averaging outside of top-20 fantasy numbers on the season, and Cincinnati has been punishing fantasy defenses for three week straight. It's very possible that the Bengals offense comes crashing back to earth during a short week on the road, but there are much better match ups to exploit than Thursday's game.