After spending most of the season in full control of the AFC North, the Cincinnati Bengals suddenly find themselves in need of more wins to stay alive in the playoff race. If they lose to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17, they no longer control their own position in the division, and losses in both Weeks 16 and 17 could put them out of the playoffs entirely.
As such, the Minnesota Vikings, who have lost only one of their last four games after starting 2-8, get the opportunity to play spoiler in Week 16. The two teams face off at 1 p.m. ET Sunday in Cincinnati, and there will be plenty of fantasy intrigue as well.
It certainly looks like Peterson will be a full participant in Sunday's game. Sure, the Bengals have a decent defense, and Peterson might not be at full strength, and the team doesn't have any specific need to give him too much of a workload. Still, it's Adrian freaking Peterson. If he plays, he's a must-start. Don't get cute. ... Walsh has had double-digit fantasy points in four of six, and he scored nine points in his other two. He's converted multiple field goals in six straight.
Before three weeks ago, Jennings and Patterson had combined for one double-digit fantasy game all season; they've had four between them since, with a 20-plus-point game each. The Bengals are a good defensive team, so both wide receivers are on the dicey side of things, but they have high ceilings as flex plays.
Cassel has pretty obviously been the Vikings' best quarterback this year, and had a great game in Week 15. Still, he's Mediocre Matt Cassel, and this is a tough defense that needs a win. Don't buy in. ... Even if Peterson is out, Gerhart will be tough to trust, between his injury and the opposing defense. ... And no matter what happens with Peterson and/or Gerhart, just stay away from Asiata. No thank you. ... Simpson is lagging behind Patterson and Jennings. Maybe that means it's his turn in Week 16, but more likely he's just the No. 3 guy. ... The Vikings' defense is terrible.
Start in every league: A.J. Green, Defense/special teams
After a huge stretch from Week 6 to Week 10, Green has cooled a bit of late; he hasn't topped 100 yards in his last four games and has only scored twice. Even then, the receiver is No. 8 at the position, and is still averaging 12 fantasy points in his last three. He's a must-start. ... The Bengals' defense has struggled in its last two, but going against the Vikings' offense is a wonderful salve.
Only the Cowboys have given up more points to opposing fantasy quarterbacks than the Vikings; while Dalton has been wildly inconsistent this season, it's hard to think this wouldn't be one of his big games. ... Bernard and Green-Ellis have gone back and forth in production this season; they're stealing one another's touches, and it makes it hard to buy all the way in on either one.
Jones has gotten back into the end zone in each of the last two games, but a full third of his season value comes from his big Week 8; he's a completely untrustable piece. ... The Bengals' tight ends -- Eifert and Gresham -- have each had one double-digit fantasy game this season, and it was exactly 10 points for each guy. That's not nearly enough to consider using them in a finals matchup. ... Nugent has yet to kick more than two field goals in a game all season, and is only 23rd among fantasy kickers.