The Cincinnati Bengals are 1-3, and a loss to our Buffalo Bills this week will do tremendous damage to their playoff hopes. After a putrid showing in weeks one and two, the Bengals have righted the ship somewhat, losing a tough game to the Green Bay Packers prior to taking care of the Cleveland Browns, the perennial AFC North doormat. In terms of fantasy football, the Bengals have some great players, but matchups with the Bills’ defense this year have proven to be terrible ones for opposing players. Here are a few to consider this Sunday.
QB Andy Dalton
Coming off his best game of the season, the Red Rifle will try to string together a third consecutive strong performance after a horrendous opening day. Since his four-interception performance against the Baltimore Ravens, Dalton has completed 66 of 92 passes (72%) for 722 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Buffalo has only allowed one passing touchdown on the season, and they have 11 sacks; Dalton has gone down 14 times and lost 2 fumbles in addition to his 4 interceptions. There is some scoring potential here, but it’s just as likely that Buffalo’s tenacious defense shuts Dalton down.
RB Giovani Bernard
It’s hard to speculate which running back will lead Cincinnati’s three-headed attack on a week-to-week basis, but I’ll bet on the pass receiver of the bunch this week against the Bills. Bernard leads Cincinnati runners in fantasy points with a modest 38.3 on the season, and the majority of his production has come as a receiver. He has 8 catches for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tevin Coleman exposed a weakness in Buffalo’s defense last week, as he totaled 144 yards from scrimmage for the Atlanta Falcons. His speed and receiving ability proved to be a matchup issue for Buffalo on the perimeter. I expect that rookie Matt Milano will draw the task of covering Bernard up this week, and that isn’t a simple task for anyone, let alone a rookie making his first NFL start. Bernard could be a sneaky-good flex play this week.
WR A.J. Green
As good as Buffalo has been against the pass, you can’t bench a stud like Green even in the worst of matchups. Truthfully, this has the potential to be a game where Green makes some plays, as the Bills have struggled with big, physical receivers this season. Even though Julio Jones did not finish the game last week, he had 3 catches for 30 yards in the early going; the week prior, the Bills allowed Demariyus Thomas of the Denver Broncos to catch 6 passes for 98 yards. Tre’Davious White and E.J. Gaines have been excellent on the outside, but with Gaines nursing a groin injury, it’s possible that Shareece Wright will see more time in his place, so Green could have an easier time working into space than he otherwise would have.
K Randy Bullock
With Buffalo holding opponents out of the end zone so frequently, it’s quite possible that one of the high scorers for Cincinnati will be the kicker. Bullock is a solid veteran who has connected on 81.5% of his kicks since entering the league in 2013. He is only 36-of-53 from 40-plus yards out, however, so there is some risk involved. If you believe that Buffalo’s bend-but-don’t-break defense will stop the Bengals in the red zone, then Bullock could easily score you 8-12 points on the week.