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Wild Card Sunday Preview: Bengals at Colts

hill land
Source: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America

Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts
January 4, 2015. 1:05 p.m. EST, CBS

We kick off Sunday afternoon with what should be (on paper) the highest scoring game of the weekend. The Colts’ offense has been sputtering of late but is still high-powered. It will be interesting to see how the Bengals defense matches up with them. Despite the possible absence of A.J. Green, the Bengals should still be able to put up points on a very pedestrian Colts’ defense. Their poor run defense is likely to see a heavy dose of Jeremy Hill. This is a really tough game to predict. The Colts have been terrible down the stretch and the Bengals are terrible in big games. You have to trust Andrew Luck a lot more than Andy Dalton, but the Colts really don’t have much outside of Luck. The Bengals best chance is to run it down their throats, control the clock and get enough stops on defense while the Colts will need Luck in full superhero mode. This one promises to be intriguing if nothing else.

Cincinnati Bengals: What to look for

Quarterbacks
It is very difficult to trust Dalton in a playoff game, especially if Green cannot pass concussion protocol. While Dalton comes cheap at only $6,100 on DraftKings.com, we still would not advise you go anywhere near him. He is a disaster waiting to happen. If you are strapped for cash you should make cap room for Joe Flacco who costs only $600 more. It would be less than shocking to see Dalton pull another no-show and score single-digit fantasy points. My guess is Hue Jackson will rely heavily on his rushing-attack and take the ball out of Dalton’s hands. Green’s availability could make a huge difference in both Dalton’s value and the Bengals game plan.

Running Backs
What’s not to love about Hill? The rookie has come in, played great and taken Giovanni Bernard’s job from him. He has cast himself in to the offensive rookie of the year conversation as well with his late season push. While Hill doesn’t come cheap at $6,200 (third most-expensive RB), he is most likely well worth the price tag. With DeMarco Murray up against a tough Lions’ rush defense and Le’Veon Bell likely limited at best, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Hill lead all RBs this week.

As for Bernard, he is a much riskier play. However, Green’s potential absence could give him a lot more value. Since Hill has taken over as the lead back, the Bengals have gone a lot more conservative in the passing game when they are without Green. The evidence is in Mohamed Sanu’s drop-off and Jermaine Gresham’s uptick in targets. While Gio is not a great value at $5,600 being that he’s more expensive than Joique Belle, he does have major upside. If the Colts start piling up points they will have to throw the ball often. This will lead to Bernard seeing a lot more snaps, and he could possibly be the Bengals leading receiver. The potential for him having a ton of PPR value at a reasonable price is definitely there. However, so is the downside of him seeing single-digit touches. Purchase at your own risk.

Wide Receivers
With Green potentially sidelined, there is little to like here. If Green plays you always have to love him, but whether he plays remains to be seen. Carefully monitor his status and hope we get an update before Saturday’s kickoff. The only other WR that even gets consideration is Sanu. As stated earlier, the Bengals’ pass attack has been much more conservative in the second half of the season, particularly without Green. There is one ray of hope, though. If Luck explodes and gets up big early, they will have to throw the ball downfield. Sanu has proven he is the best option. He did put up WR1 numbers for a stretch this season. He costs only $4,200 so he does have upside. Nonetheless, Martavis Bryant is $100 cheaper and probably has even more upside against Baltimore. But if Green does play this is all for not.

Tight Ends
With Tyler Eifert placed on IR early in the season, many predicted Gresham to bounce back in a big way. Well, many were wrong. Very, very wrong. For the most part he was basically useless all season and still can’t be relied on. He did start seeing a lot more action at the end of the season, though. He even caught a TD in each of the last three games and caught two in Week 12. He had no TDs before that. If Green is out, Gresham could have some decent PPR value. Especially at only $3,700, however, you may be better off spending the extra $200 and grabbing Heath Miller.

Indianapolis Colts: What to look for

Quarterbacks
Luck was the next great fantasy QB this season. Better than Manning, Brees and Rodgers. Lock for MVP… Then the fantasy playoffs hit and he was awful. Even putting up a zero on championship week. All of a sudden he is very hard to trust after being a lock most of the season. His high cap number of $8,800 coupled with the fact that the Bengals have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs does not make him overly enticing. While the upside is there in a major way, your money is probably better spent elsewhere.

Running Backs
The Colts running backs do not have much to desire. Since Ahmad Bradshaw’s season came to an abrupt end, no one has been able to fill the void. While Boom Herron does have some value at only $4,700, he has not been great by any means. And Trent Richardson is just the worst. I wouldn’t start him if he costs $100. Never could I in good conscience advise anybody to start T-Rich. The Colts’ RBs are probably better left out of your lineup. Otherwise you’re just hoping for a few catches and a TD. Mike Tolbert is a lot cheaper if that’s what you’re looking for.

Wide Receivers
This is a very interesting group. T.Y. Hilton had a great year but is coming off a hamstring injury and failed to catch a single pass Week 17. The game was meaningless but it would have been nice to see him show us something. With a price tag $1,900 higher than Kelvin Benjamin, who is the next highest priced player, you may want to spread out your money on another WR or two. Golden Tate and the Smiths in Baltimore are also right behind KB in price. Reggie Wayne is also tough to trust with his triceps injury. He has some upside at $4,300, especially if Hilton’s not at full speed. He also has plenty of downside. Hakeem Nicks and Donte Moncrief are both just roll of the dice desperation plays with some upside only because of the offense they are in.

Tight Ends
It looks like Dwayne Allen will suit up on Sunday after a full practice on Wednesday. Last time he suited up he got hurt early and put up a big zero. At the same time he does come discounted at $3,800, and his presence makes it very difficult to justify spending $5,000 on Coby Fleener. You may be better off avoiding these TEs all together, but Allen is definitely the better value pick assuming he doesn’t suffer a setback in practice. He is a high risk but very high reward play.

Predictions

Final Score
Cincinnati: 24
Indianapolis: 27

Best Play
Bengals: Jeremy Hill
Colts: Dwayne Allen

Sleeper
Mohamed Sanu

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3 Comments

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