Fantasy Football Thursday Night Start or Sit: Eagles vs. Bengals: Dalton & More

Eric StashinSenior Writer IDecember 13, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 02:  Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks for an open receiver against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on December 2, 2012 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Here is my fantasy football advice for tonight's Thursday Night Football matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles.


Must-Start Options

Quarterback - None
Running Back - None
Wide Receiver - A.J. Green (Cin)
Tight End - None


Others to Consider

Quarterback: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

Dalton is a borderline QB1 this week, taking on an Eagles defense that has completely fallen apart. Over the past four weeks, we have seen the following performances against them:

  • Week 11 – Robert Griffin III – 14-of-15 for 200 yards and 4 TD
  • Week 12 – Cam Newton – 18-of-28 for 300 yards and 2 TD
  • Week 13 – Tony Romo – 22-of-27 for 303 yards and 3 TD
  • Week 14 – Josh Freeman – 14-of-34 for 189 yards and 2 TD

They did do a good job on Freeman, but in general, the touchdowns have been plentiful. The thing with Dalton is that he hasn’t thrown for more than 230 yards in the past five weeks. Obviously, if he can hook up for two or three touchdowns there’s no issue, but that is a bit of a risk.

He’s usable, depending on your other options, but his recent play (including 2 TD vs. 3 INT in his past two games) make him a risk and a preferable QB2.


Quarterback: Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles

He was tremendous in Week 14, but that performance also came against the worst pass defense in the league, which has to be accounted for. In contrast to Tampa Bay (311.6 yards/game, 23 TD), the Bengals are allowing just 222.5 passing yards per game and 14 TD.

It’s a much different matchup this week and, unless you are in a two-quarterback league, one you don’t want to mess with. There’s just too much risk involved in trusting a rookie quarterback still trying to find his footing.


Running Back: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals

He is close to being a must-use option, but this is the playoffs, so we don’t want to be hasty. However, his biggest issue is finding the end zone, as he has rushed for at least 89 yards in four straight games (including three over 100). Having scored five touchdowns hurts his appeal, as does his inability in the passing game.

While I would use him under most circumstances, he’s not a given. That’s especially true considering the Eagles' leaky pass defense and the fact that they have only allowed seven rushing touchdowns on the season.


Running Back: Bryce Brown, Philadelphia Eagles

He was awful in Week 14, but that was against a stout running defense that was porous against the pass. These are slightly different circumstances, as the Bengals have allowed 11 rushing touchdowns this season.

With LeSean McCoy already ruled out, you would think that Brown will get ample opportunity. Don’t write him off based on the tough matchup, because you don’t accidentally put up the numbers he did in Weeks 12 and 13. He’s a RB2/FLEX, depending on your options.


Wide Receiver: Andrew Hawkins, Cincinnati Bengals

He is the clear second receiver, and he has received eight targets in each of the past two games. As defenses focus on Green, that should provide other receivers a chance, and he is the best of the group. That said, he’s a huge risk and could easily put up a goose egg. He’s a desperation WR3, at best.


Wide Receiver: Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals

Sure, he has four touchdowns, but he’s only been targeted 25 times (with 16 receptions). Don’t bother unless you are in the deepest of formats.
Update: Sanu has been placed on IR

Wide Receiver: Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles

Without DeSean Jackson, he is the clear top receiver in Philadelphia. That said, he’s shown the ability to have a big game (like in Week 14 with nine receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown), but also seemingly disappear at times. There’s a lot of risk, especially with a rookie QB throwing him the ball, so I would consider him more of a WR3.


Wide Receiver: Jason Avant/Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles

Could either of these two make a splash? Absolutely.

Would I bet on it this early in the week with my fantasy title hanging in the balance? Not likely.

If you are desperate and in the deepest of leagues, Avant could hold value. However, it’s a huge gamble at this time.


Tight End: Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals

Similar to his quarterback, he is right on the fence, and it solely depends on your other options if you use him or not.

He’s going to have big days and has at least four receptions in each of his past four games. He also ranks second on the team in receiving touchdowns, with five, and with the way the Eagles are going, that adds to his appeal. Tight end can be a tricky position, but I wouldn’t be opposed to using him.


Tight End: Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles

He has scored one touchdown all season and has been targeted three times or fewer in three of the past five games. At this point, he’s forgettable.
Update: Celek has been ruled out with a concussion

Tight End: Clay Harbor, Philadelphia Eagles

He’s coming off a big game, with six receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown. Of course, he’s been targeted 35 times all season and had a total of three yards in the previous three weeks. Don’t bother taking the risk off of one good game.



Make sure to check out all of our Week 15 rankings:


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