Whether it’s injuries, bye weeks, or a hot waiver wire claim that muddles fantasy lineups, the factors which fantasy owners have to consider before hitting the submit button are always present and rarely uncomplicated. There’s only one way to combat this, and that’s parsing each game, one at a time. Here’s what needs to be considered when the Cincinnati Bengals take on the New England Patriots.
A.J. Green will face a Patriots defense that has been apt at taking away their opponent’s top receivers. Terrelle Pryor and DeAndre Hopkins were held to modest totals, but Green has a more capable quarterback and the talent to thrive even in poor matchups. He is a WR1 as usual, and a potentially negative game script could have him peppered with even more targets than usual.
Except for a 97-yard game against the Broncos where he found the end zone twice, Jeremy Hill hasn’t given the Bengals much on the ground this season. That, coupled with a chest injury, has paved the way for increased usage from Giovani Bernard, who got the start over Hill in Week 5’s loss and totaled 96 yards. Only the Falcons and Chargers have surrendered more receptions to running backs than the Patriots entering Week 6, and with the Bengals devoid of many pass catchers outside of Green, Bernard makes for a capable RB2 on Sunday.
Brandon LaFell was king of garbage time in Week 5’s blowout loss to the Cowboys, snatching two touchdowns and eight catches over the course of the game. He won’t be an option against the Patriots with only two teams on byes.
New England Patriots
The Patriots’ offense was a sleeping giant that awoke upon Tom Brady’s Week 5 return, and fantasy value can be had throughout it. Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett all deserve to be in lineups of all formats and shouldn’t be given a second look. The Bengals’ defense, though embarrassed in Week 5, is a capable one, however the upside all three pass catchers makes them start-worthy.
LeGarrette Blount will face a Bengals defense that was manhandled by the Dallas Cowboys’ running game. Blount is certainly capable of carrying the load, but with Brady back under center, there is no guarantee that the Patriots will go run-heavy. It’s one of the more frustrating aspects in projecting an offense that can change its identity each week, but with Blount having goal-line duties locked down in a high-scoring offense, he remains an RB2. In PPR formats, James White has flex appeal after being heavily involved in the receiving game upon Brady’s return.
Chris Hogan made the most of his five targets, turning them into a 4-114-0 line. That kind of payout will be hard to expect each week, as Hogan was only fifth on the team in targets despite leading the team in receiving against the Browns. He and Danny Amendola can remain on fantasy benches.