Welcome to the Monday Night Showdown Slate for NFL Week 15!
Before we start, please allow me to reiterate that while we all love having a little skin in the game, these showdown slates are basically lottery tickets. Sure, there are times when the chalk hits and everyone shares in the prizes, but more often than not, you need that random, differentiated yourself from the herd dart-throw to hit in order to claim that top prize. As a result, we are encouraged to play responsibly. Stick to the GPP contests (single-entry preferred), don’t blow your whole bankroll and understand that, unless you are a max-entry player, you should prioritize having fun.
OK, lecture over. Let’s get to tonight’s action.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals
Spread: Steelers -14.5
Weather: mid- 40’s, partly cloudy but no precipitation; winds W 12 MPH.
James Conner , RB (quad – questionable)
Brandon Allen , QB (knee – OUT)
DVOA Defense Ranks
vs Pass: 1st
vs Run: 3rd
vs Pass: 29th
vs Run: 18th
Please note that players not listed below do not mean they are a complete fade. All players listed can be used as MVP/Captain.
Steelers D/ST – The Bengals offense is atrocious and with Brandon Allen out they will be going to Ryan Finley who wasn’t good enough to play over Brandon Allen so let that one sink in. Finley has appeared in three games this season and has completed 52-percent of his passes for 75 yards and two interceptions while having been sacked seven times….He is not good. The Steelers defense however is very good, ranking first against the pass and third against the run this season per DVOA. The Steelers are also tied for first in takeaways and lead the NFL in sacks. So….yeah.
Ben Roethlisberger , QB PIT – Big Ben is the most expensive player on the slate and it’s for good reason as he faces a Bengals defense that ranks 29th against the pass per DVOA. The Steelers offense is loaded with talented pass catchers, when they want to not drop the football, and there is great upside here for Roethlisberger who should have himself a multiple touchdown performance.
Diontae Johnson, WR PIT – Yes, I know he burned everyone last week when he was benched for dropping passes, but the man is still the most targeted receiver on the roster when healthy and this is a great bounce back spot for him against this horrid Bengals defense.
Eric Ebron , TE PIT – If looking for a spend down captain option take a look at the Steelers tight end. While he too has his issues with dropping passes and disappointed last week, the Bengals are allowing the second most fantasy points to tight ends per DK rankings. Spending down here makes it easier to spend up for your flex positions.
JuJu Smith-Schuster , WR PIT – I mean, yes, all Steelers receivers are in play for all the reasons written above. The Bengals pass defense is trash. JuJu has seen 26 targets over the last three games and has found the end zone twice over that span. He had nine catches on 13 targets for 77 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals in Week 10.
Chase Claypool, WR PIT – It’s been a bit since Claypool has had a big game but he did have two touchdowns against the Bengals back in Week 10. He is far riskier play than the other pass catching options on this team but he has big play upside and has 10 touchdown catches on the season.
Tyler Boyd , WR CIN – I mean, the Bengals are going to move the ball at least a little bit here and you can’t build a lineup with only Steelers players so Boyd could be a decent option out of the slot to catch maybe 3-to-5 passes for 40-50 yards which is more than enough to satisfy the lineup requirements.
James Washington , WR PIT – It’s a showdown slate with the Steelers so you know my boy James Washington is going to find his way into the “Dart Throws” section. The last two showdown playbooks Washington has found the end zone. He is a big play guy and gets a few targets a game. The Bengals certainly could give up a big play in this game with Washington being on the receiving end.
Tee Higgins, WR CIN – Higgins has been fantastic during his rookie season but the QB play in recent weeks has really limited his upside. The fact that he plays on the outside makes him much more of boom or bust play because I question Ryan Finley’s ability to throw the ball up field to Higgins. That said, the price here is pretty cheap given the talent.
Drew Sample, TE CIN – Sample has been seeing increased volume as his short routes have complimented the Bengals poor QB talent since the injury to Joe Burrow. While the Steelers are very strong against tight ends, we aren’t looking for a ton of production here, rather just a body that will satisfy the roster requirements while we look to load up on Steeler players.