Fantasy football start/sit advice, Week 15: Bengals vs. Browns
Have you heard of this Johnny guy everyone keeps talking about?
Theoretically, the storyline of Sunday’s Cincinnati Bengals-Cleveland Browns game should center around the teams’ respective playoff pushes — the 8-4-1 Bengals are in first in the AFC North, but the 7-6 Browns, along with the 8-5 Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, are breathing down their neck. In reality, though, the stories will all be about the Browns’ new quarterback, as rookie Johnny Manziel is making his first career start in the game.
The Bengals are largely healthy for Sunady’s game, at least from a fantasy perspective. Tight end Jermaine Gresham missed practice over the week with a toe injury, but he’s expected to be active, albeit limited, in Sunday’s game. For the Browns, running back Isaiah Crowell has been hampered by a hip issue, but he looks to be fine for Sunday. Also, the team released kicker Billy Cundiff after he was injured in practice, and signed Garrett Hartley to fill the role.
Searching for revenge on an embarrassing Week 10 loss, the Bengals will travel to Cleveland for the 1 p.m. ET Sunday game. Let’s look at the fantasy considerations:
Start ‘em: After some back-and-forth this season, it looks like Jeremy Hill has fully taken over the job in the Bengals’ backfield, and that makes him a low-end RB2. … Even with a likely matchup against Joe Haden, A.J. Green has been dominant, and is an every-week must-start.
Start ‘em?: Since that abysmal Week 10 game, Andy Dalton has put up two of his best games of the season. In the other two, though he has only 11 fantasy points, giving him an average of 17.3 in that time. He’s a low-end QB2. … Giovani Bernard will still be heard from before all is said and done; you probably can’t start him, but in a pinch he could be a flex option. … If Haden has a strong performance against Green, Mohamed Sanu could feast on the extra targets.
Sit ‘em: Even if Jermaine Gresham were fully healthy, you wouldn’t use him. … Mike Nugent has been bad far more often than he’s been good this season. … The Bengals’ defense has struggled this year, topping out at 11 fantasy points, without even that many since Week 3.
Start ‘em: Even without getting the start last week, Isaiah Crowell managed 11 fantasy points. He’s a mid-range RB2.
Start ‘em?: Just like the Bengals’ RB situation, the Browns have a clear No. 1 running back, but the second guy — in this case Terrance West — will be heard from, and is a justifiable low-end flex option. … If you have Josh Gordon after holding him all season long, you’re probably using him, but you’d be forgiven if you wanted to move on — he’s a high-end flex. … Jordan Cameron played! Now that he’s back and apparently healthy, he’s a mid-range TE2, but with upside. … The Browns’ defense has averaged almost 13 a game in its last three, but isn’t exactly elite. It’s an if-you’re-desperate play.
Sit ‘em: How can you start Johnny Manziel in his first career game? We all think he’s a high-floor option, but you can’t possibly trust him yet. Give him a week to do stuff. … The return of Gordon has kept Andrew Hawkins‘ value lower. He’s outside starting territory. … There’s a reason Garrett Hartley was unemployed as recently as Friday.
Start in every league: Jeremy Hill, A.J. Green, Isaiah Crowell
Bench: Jermaine Gresham, Mike Nugent, Cincinnati defense, Johnny Manziel, Andrew Hawkins, Garrett Hartley