The Cincinnati Bengals, leading the AFC North but with prominent players dropping like flies, travel to face the disappointing Baltimore Ravens in a 1 p.m. division game Sunday. Few Ravens have lived up to their fantasy potential this season, but here's a look at anyone of relevance:
Last Thursday was Bernard's coming-out party, with the most rushing yards of his young career and two scores, including one you'll still see on TV right this minute if you flip to the right channel. Though he's battled a rib injury all week, Bernard is expected to play and, despite the Ravens having a strong run defense, he ought to be a decent play. ... If there are any questions about Green in fantasy, they haven't been vocalized around these parts. He's a must-start in two-team leagues, let along ten.
Dalton has thrown for 300-plus yards in each of his last four games, though he went from five touchdowns and one interception two weeks ago to no scores and three picks last week. The Bengals are likely to throw the ball a fair amount, so Dalton might have value just through quantity, but there are bound to be better options. ... Even without his eight-catch, 122-yard, four-touchdown game against the New York Jets in Week 8, Jones would be on pace for a wholly respectable 600-yard, six-score season, with much of that production coming lately, as he gets more involved in the offense. He's no guarantee for big value, but that potential is there. ... After barely five points a game in his first four weeks, Nugent has averaged almost ten since Week 4. He's worth a look with guys like Stephen Gostkowski and Nick Folk on byes. ... The Bengals' defense has been a frontline unit most of the year, but the injuries are starting to add up. They aren't likely to be upper-echelon going forward, but they're still better than most.
Bernard is leaving Green-Ellis behind in the Bengals running-back rotation; the veteran hasn't scored since Week 5, and his touches were falling steadily until he had to fill in for Bernard last week. The Ravens allow the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs in the NFL, and Green-Ellis is an accumulator at best. He's not worth it. ... Eifert has been a moderately popular sleeper pick, but he's scored only once on the season, and he's on pace for barely 500 yards. Until we see it, we can't believe it.
Start in every league: Justin Tucker
Tucker has missed only two field goals this season, and both were at least 40 yards. With the Ravens struggling in short yardage, good chance a kicker has a lot of value.
No one has been more disappointing in fantasy than Rice. No one. But the one time the Ravens gave him more than 15 carries (27, in Week 5), he had 19 fantasy points; he has 15 since Week 1 in all other games combined. At some point, the Ravens will lose enough games that they'll change tactics and get Rice the ball more. Maybe it's this week. ... Smith didn't go for fewer than 85 yards in his first five games; he hasn't topped 78 since, with no more than seven fantasy points a game in that time. He's a boom-or-bust receiver, and he could always boom, but there's nothing to count on. ... With five touchdowns in seven games played, Brown has been the Ravens' go-to scoring option. His yardage is modest (at best), but he scores. If you feel lucky, or if you feel like Brown is lucky, there's a shot there.
IS JOE FLACCO ELITE? Sorry, had a 2012 flashback. Flacco has had fewer fantasy points per outing than guys like Alex Smith and Ben Roethlisberger. The Bengals are the tenth-worst team for opposing fantasy quarterbacks to face. It's not worth it. ... Look real hard, and you still won't find anything about Pierce's season to get excited about. It's been miserable all around, and he's hardly worthwhile even as a handcuff at this point. ... The Ravens' defense had 33 points combined in Weeks 2 and 3, but have been average-to-subpar in all the other games this season. The Bengals are middle-of-the-road against fantasy defenses. The Baltimore unit might score 6 or 7, sure, but it's hard to imagine double digits.