Last updated: September 26th at 9:45pm ET
Team Totals: Steelers 24, Bengals 20
This is your sell window for Joe Mixon coming off a reasonably productive game with 93 total yards and a touchdown at Buffalo. Nowhere near an every-down back, Mixon’s Weeks 1-3 snap rates were 37% > 55% > 58%, and he ranks a severely disappointing 27th among running backs in routes run (48). The Bengals are dead last in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards run-blocking metric. Monday night’s matchup isn’t overly imposing – the Steelers have yielded 89/385/3 (4.33 YPC) rushing to enemy backs – but Mixon’s perceived value is higher than his actual value in such a running back-unfriendly situation. … Giovani Bernard is playable on one-game DFS slates with the 17th-most routes run among backs (57) facing a Steelers defense that has allowed the NFL’s third-most catches (22) to Mixon and Gio’s position. Bernard has played 49% of Cincinnati’s offensive snaps this year. … Andy Dalton’s to-date fantasy results are QB11 > QB10 > QB17, good enough scores for two-quarterback leagues and one-game DFS slates. He also has multiple touchdown passes in three straight meetings with Pittsburgh. I still like the Steelers as a D/ST streamer; the Bengals have surrendered the NFL’s sixth-most sacks (11), while Pittsburgh ranks top 12 in Quarterback Hit Rate (17.3%) and should soon begin converting those hits into takedowns.
Dalton’s target distribution: Tyler Boyd 33; John Ross 26; Auden Tate 12; Tyler Eifert 11; Mixon 10; Gio, Alex Erickson, and Damion Willis 8; C.J. Uzomah 6; Drew Sample 3. … This is a monster smash spot for Boyd against the Steelers, who infamously cover slot receivers with linebackers. Boyd has run 67% of his routes inside over the last two weeks and is tied for second in the NFL in targets this season. Teams targeting the slot versus Pittsburgh are 26-of-29 passing (90%) for 323 yards (11.1 YPA) and three touchdowns. You read that right! … Ross continues to leave yards on the field with a league-high five drops, and it’s begun to cost him opportunity. Ross-versus-Terry McLaurin was the big Week 1 waiver-wire debate. With two weeks of results in, McLaurin is out in front. Consider Ross a boom-bust, big-play-dependent WR3 regardless of opposition. Monday night’s matchup does set up well on paper; the Steelers have allowed the NFL’s fourth-most completions of 20-plus yards (15). … The Bengals tightened up their wideout rotation in Week 3, committing to 6-foot-5, 228-pound jump-ball magnet Tate as their clear-cut No. 3 across from Ross with Boyd in the slot. Tate capitalized and then some, drawing ten targets and pouring a team-high 88 yards on Buffalo’s stingy secondary. Popping in this week’s Buy Low Air Yards Model, Tate is an underrated WR4/flex option in season-long leagues and firmly on the radar on one-game DFS slates. Tate converted 16 of his 65 career catches into touchdowns at Florida State. … Eifert’s rotational usage with Uzomah and Sample is keeping him low on TE1 streamer priority lists.
This is a get-right spot for early-season bust James Conner as a home-favorite bellcow facing a Bengals defense enemy backs have ethered for 78/408/4 (5.23 YPC) rushing. Despite Conner’s to-date struggles, Jaylen Samuels didn’t touch the ball in last week’s loss to San Francisco, and rookie plodder Benny Snell rushed three times for six yards. Expect a full workload for Conner as an RB1 play. … Mason Rudolph had a forgettable initial post-Ben Roethlisberger start, going 2-of-13 on passes traveling more than two yards downfield and accumulating 142 of his 174 yards (82%) via yards after catch. Rudolph’s lack of foot quickness was exposed by San Francisco’s talent-laden defensive front. Back home facing a much-worse defense than the underrated 49ers’, Rudolph should be worthy of two-QB-league starts. The Bengals have allowed the NFL’s ninth-highest passer rating (110.3) and rank bottom five in sacks (5).
Rudolph’s 2019 target distribution: JuJu Smith-Schuster 12; Diontae Johnson 9; Conner, Vance McDonald, and James Washington 6; Samuels, Donte Moncrief, and Ryan Switzer 1. … In addition to targets, JuJu leads Pittsburgh in Air Yards (168) with Rudolph quarterbacking for most of the last two weeks. Even as Smith-Schuster is virtually certain to lose post-Ben efficiency, his volume should stay stable as the Steelers’ clear passing-game focal point. Keep the faith with JuJu as an every-week WR2. … Elevated to Pittsburgh’s first-team offense against the 49ers, Johnson led the team in Air Yards (77), played 79% of the Steelers’ snaps, and beat Jason Verrett for a 39-yard touchdown that briefly gave Pittsburgh life in its 24-20 loss. Fellow outside WRs D.K. Metcalf (4/89/0), Deebo Samuel (5/86/1), and Marquise Goodwin (3/77/1) have shown cracks in Cincinnati’s perimeter coverage, putting Johnson in play on one-game DFS slates. He’s an upside WR4/5 stash in season-long leagues. … Albeit in a tiny sample size, Rudolph has not yet gone out of his way to funnel Washington targets despite their highly productive track records at Oklahoma State and in NFL preseason games. Until that changes, Washington’s fantasy appeal will be limited to one-game DFS slates and as a WR4/5 season-long stash. … McDonald’s Week 4 availability is entirely up in the air after he left 15 snaps into last week’s loss and didn’t return. The Steelers placed No. 2 TE Xavier Grimble on I.R. this week. If McDonald can’t go, their two healthy tight ends will be fifth-round pick Zach Gentry and Tuesday trade acquisition Nick Vannett.
Score Prediction: Steelers 24, Bengals 23