The Brownies and Ravens are on a bye, but the rest of the AFC North is active, and Cleveland fans, especially those with a rooting fantasy interest, will be keeping an eye on the games. The AFC North is extremely tight, with the Baltimore at 3-1, and Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati at 2-2. As fantasy owners try to separate themselves from the pack during the first round of byes, here is a quick guide on which Steelers and Bengals to start and sit in their matchups this week.
Mike Wallace- Wallace has emerged as a #1 WR option for fantasy owners. He is consistent, gets a ton of targets, can make the big play, and sees the ball in the red zone. He's physical and athletically gifted. Even if Big Ben doesn't play, Wallace is not a guy you can bench.
Antonio Brown-This is an upside play, but the key to a winning fantasy season is picking trends as they are emerging and not after they have already happened (see: Mike Williams, 2010). Brown isn't on that level yet, but he's pushing Emmanuel Sanders and Hines Ward out of the way, and looks stronger each and every week. Play him if you have him.
Isaac Redman- Even if Mendenhall plays, Redman is going to have a big role in Sunday's game. Tennessee gives up a lot underneath, so I expect Redman to be active (especially as a safety valve for Batch if Roethlisberger doesn't play). Plus, the Steelers will need to control the line of scrimmage, and running the ball will be critical on the road against a stout Titans defense that has not given up the big play this year through four games. If Mendenhall is out, Redman is a must-start. Even if Mendenhall is active, Redman is a good flex play in a bye week.
Ben Roethlisberger- Stay away. He's hurting, the Steelers offensive line isn't doing him any favors, and the Titans, despite giving up a bunch of garbage yards to Colt McCoy on dink and dunks a week ago, haven't been kind to opposing QBs fantasy-wise. If he starts and you have other options, look elsewhere.
Rashard Mendenhall- I don't think Mendenhall is playing at all. So if that's the case, he's already on your bench for the week. But even if he plays, I think he'll be hobbled, and you'll be seeing a lot more of Redman. This is a funny situation because this is kind of a must-win on the road for the Steelers to keep pace in the AFC North, but they can't risk further injuring their feature back for the rest of the season.
Heath Miller- There's a chance if Batch plays instead of Roethlisberger, Miller could see a breakout week. But recent history hasn't been kind to Heath Barzzz. He's not getting any looks in the redzone, he's blocking a ton on pass routes, and he's inconsistent, at best. Yes, the TE landscape is pretty barren this week, so I can't blame you if you play him, but I don't recommend it.
AJ Green- We all knew he'd be a very good player; but some didn't quite expect him to do it this soon. I don't see Green topping the 100 yard mark this week, but he'll get his catches, and in multiple leagues, I'm starting to become comfortable slotting him as an every week starter.
Cedric Benson- He's angry. And he has a favorable matchup. Play him, and use him with confidence.
Jermaine Gresham- I don't know why Gresham isn't owned in more leagues. Dalton goes to him in the red zone, which is the most important facet of a TE. Plus, he's athletic and can beat safeties one-on-one (see his dismantlement of T.J. Ward in Week 1).
Bernard Scott- Benson should be good to go again this week with the appeal of his suspension still pending, Scott is largely useless. He's ownable, as he'll be getting major carries when Benson's three-week vacation finally starts, but not playable...yet.
Andy Dalton- I wholeheartedly expect the Jaguars to dial up the pressure against Big Red. Dalton should be able to beat the blitz, since, by all accounts, he is at his best in three and five step drops, but he's going to make mistakes. With an assumed focus on controlling the time of possession, I think the Bengals will stick to the run for the most part.
Jerome Simpson-I wouldn't start Andre Caldwell either here. The Bengals might have a tough time airing it out this week, and although I think Dalton will be hurling it early and often to his big rookie target (Green) and his safety valve (Gresham), I don't think there will be nearly enough to go around for any of the other WRs. You should have better options than Simpson this week, no matter how deep your league is.