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Friday 24th Mar 2017

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

When Pittsburgh wasn’t shooting themselves in the foot they moved the ball at will most of the night. Mike Wallace killed their initial drive in the first quarter by dropping a first down pass on a third down, then dropped another easy toss on the next drive that negated a big gain. The dropsies were contagious as Baron Batch was as open as you can get but failed to haul in a soft lob from Antonio Brown that would have been an easy touchdown even for my grandmother. Two plays later Ben Roethlisberger threw a pick trying to force it into Heath Miller in the end zone. When the Steeler offense didn’t misfire, the Bengals defense had few answers. Dick Lebeau had answers all night for the Bengals offense. It’s really just a trump card at this point. Stop A.J. Green and you stop the Bengals. This is exactly why I don’t own Green on any 12 or 14-team leagues this year (I wish I did). I assumed defensive coordinators would focus their strategy on stopping the sophomore phenom, especially since the linebacker hurdling, drug dealing, seam stretching Jerome Simpson departed for Minneapolis and there remained no other formidable threat among the Bengal playmakers. I was wrong. Defensive schemes have been mixed but all too often I’ve seen Green exploit zones, man-to-man, or the occasional blown coverage. Not on Sunday night. The Steelers put an end to that. This is also exactly why I own Andrew Hawkins all over the place. More often than not the slant has been there for the taking, but Andy Dalton only seems interested in it occasionally. The Bengals need to run more three wide receiver sets and they need to run as well as pass from these formations. This will stretch the field and open up running lanes. They also need to slant Hawkins in the middle to take some defensive pressure off the outside. The ingredients for a 2004 Brandon Stokley type of breakout are there in southern Ohio, but for some reason Dalton and company don’t seem that interested.

Quick Hitters

Rob Housler caught 5 of 7 targets for 54 yards. This may be your last chance to get him.

Dallas Clark complained about his lack of involvement in the offense and was rewarded with 5 catches for 51 and a score. Might be another flash in the pan but still worth a buck to see.

The Washington Redskins placed Fred Davis on Injured Reserve and signed Chris Cooley. The former pro bowler has the knees of a retired plumber but is still worth putting on your watch list along with Logan Paulson. The 2nd year tight end out of UCLA was targeted 6 times after Davis was removed from the game and has the size (6’5” 258) to provide a big target for Robert Griffin on seam routes and the strength to fend off aggressive coverage.

Justin Blackmon came out of a bye with and into a matchup against a weak Oakland secondary. 1 catch and only 4 targets aren’t going to get it done. Cecil Shorts on the other hand led the Jaguars with 10 targets in week 7. When desperate for a WR4, sometimes you have to take what you can get. Shorts is fast, and the Jaguars will find the end zone once in a while and complete a least a few passes. Someone has to catch them.

Greg Little posted his best fantasy week of the season, catching 6 passes and finding the end zone. Greg has done little (nudge, nudge) to earn the trust of owners, yet he still leads the Browns in targets. He might bail you out if byes and injuries have you in a bind.

Louis Murphy has the athleticism to fill a highlight reel. He’s been criticized for bad route running and being injury prone. He’s probably not worth a roster spot yet, but he should be on your radar as an upside flex if he earns more snaps and looks across from Steve Smith.

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