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Bengals vs. Texans start/sit advice: Andy Dalton vs. Ryan Mallett

One team is in first place, while the other is close.

The Cincinnati Bengals are 2-2 on the road. The Houston Texans are 2-2 at home. Something's got to give Sunday in this clash of the titans! (Sometimes introductory paragraphs are hard.) The AFC North-leading Bengals travel to Houston Sunday to take on the Texans, who are a game back of the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South.

The Bengals will likely get running back Giovani Bernard back on the field Sunday after he missed the last three games with a hip injury, although he'll be limited. For the Texans, running back Arian Foster looked like he'd return from injury early in the week, but his chances lessened as things went on, and Foster now looks likely to miss.

As noted above, the Texans will play host Sunday, with the game scheduled for 1 p.m. ET. Let's look at the fantasy names to consider:

BENGALS

Start 'em: You have to love A.J. Green this week, against a Houston defense that is very generous to wide receivers.

Start 'em?: With Giovani Bernard back in the fold, Jeremy Hill's fantasy status falls, but Bernard isn't back to where he was, either. Both are flex plays with risk.

Sit 'em: A week after his disastrous outing, Andy Dalton bounced back in Week 11 with his best game of the season, but the reality lies somewhere between those, and he's not a fantasy option. ... With the team's weapons coming back, Mohamed Sanu's fantasy status is dropping fast. ... Jermaine Gresham had two scores a week ago, but his overall performance is below fantasy consideration. ... Mike Nugent hasn't done a lot as a fantasy kicker this season. ... The Bengals' defense has been surprisingly bad, and they're off the fantasy radar right now.

TEXANS

Start 'em: Assuming Arian Foster is out, Alfred Blue is a perfectly strong RB2. ... DeAndre Hopkins is definitely the Houston receiver you want.

Start 'em?: The Texans looked Andre Johnson's way a bit more in Week 11 than it had in recent weeks. He's a flex play, though not much more. ... Randy Bullock has been a perfectly competent kicker this year. ... The Texans' defense has been fine if unspectacular of late, and the Bengals' offense is never a guarantee for big numbers.

Sit 'em: In his first game as a starter, Ryan Mallett looked decent, but not special. Wait to see another performance before you invest. ... Even after a touchdown last week, Garrett Graham is well below fantasy usability.

SUMMARY

Start in every league: A.J. Green, Alfred Blue, DeAndre Hopkins

Start if you're desperate: Giovani Bernard, Jeremy Hill, Andre Johnson, Randy Bullock, Houston defense

Bench: Andy Dalton, Mohamed Sanu, Jermaine Gresham, Mike Nugent, Cincinnati defense, Ryan Mallett, Garrett Graham