Thursday Night Football Preview: Cincinnati Bengals at Philadelphia Eagles
After swallowing a tough loss to the Cowboys on Sunday, the Bengals will have to bounce back quickly against an Eagles team that has been in disarray, but still has a lot of talent. Last week, rookie quarterback Nick Foles was able to lead the Eagles to a last-second comeback over the Bucs, snapping an 8-game losing streak. The Eagles are hoping to build on this performance and evaluate personnel, as they will almost certainly undergo significant changes this off-season. Meanwhile, the Bengals need to take advantage of the favorable match up as they fight to make the playoffs.
For fantasy owners, this game features several players who might be a tough call of whether to sit or start, depending on your depth.
Overall, Dalton has had a solid year. He doesn’t throw for a ton of yards, but he’s fifth in passing touchdowns and has three rushing scores. But his fantasy numbers aren’t too consistent…the past two weeks, Dalton has averaged 12 points in standard leagues, whereas the three weeks prior he averaged just over 22, even though he had good match ups in all those games. Still, I think he’ll find his groove again this week against an Eagles defense susceptible to big plays and blown coverages, perfect for Cincy’s speedy receivers to exploit. He may not have as high of a ceiling as some other quarterbacks like Andrew Luck or Matt Stafford, but he’s worth a start over guys like Joe Flacco and Tony Romo.
Green-Ellis didn’t produce much earlier this season, but he’s come on strong of late. The Eagles are a favorable matchup for him, especially because the Bengals should have the lead in the fourth quarter and Ellis will get more carries milking the clock. He’s not a lock to score, but he’ll likely rush for over 100 yards, which is useful for leagues that award bonuses at the century mark. Green-Ellis is a safe bet to be a solid contributor, but doesn’t have the home-run potential to carry your team.
Brown is the anti-Green-Ellis this week. He has huge potential, demonstrated by his four touchdowns and over 300 rushing yards in his first two starts. But he also carries a lot of risk, as he was held to a paltry six yards last week. If the Eagles can block better, Brown has the speed to rack up huge numbers. But if the Eagles fall behind early, they might abandon the run game. Consider your opponent before deciding on Brown…if you’re the underdog and think you need an extra boost to win, take the risk. If you like your matchup and can afford to mitigate risk, stay away from Brown.
With DeSean Jackson out, Maclin has emerged as the Eagles top receiver. Last week, he hauled in 9 passes for 104 yards and the winning touchdown. Unfortunately, Maclin injured his groin when Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha jumped on him while celebrating. The injury is minor and Maclin is expected to play, but if you’re weighing whether to start him, this should tip the scales enough to keep him on the bench. Even without the injury, Maclin isn’t productive enough on a weekly basis to warrant a start on many fantasy teams. He’s not the type of player like Brown who can put up eye-popping numbers, so it’s not really worth the risk when there might be other options at his level who have been able to string together good games like Danario Alexander, Josh Gordon, or even Rod Streater.