(Player Rankings based on Top 8 QBs, 22 RBs, 32 WRs & 14 TEs)
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
Cincinnati Rush Offense: 109.1 Yards/Game (18th) || 11 TDs (T-18th)
Cincinnati Pass Offense: 223.6 Yards/Game (17th) || 28 TDs (7th)
Opponent Defensive Ranks
Houston Rush Defense: 97.5 Yards Allowed/Game (7th) || 5 TDs Allowed (T-1st)
Houston Pass Defense: 225.8 Yards Allowed/Game (16th) || 29 TDs Allowed (T-26th)
Cincinnati Offensive Cast
Andy Dalton (QB Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 6 of 8)
2012 Season: 329/528 for 3,669 Yards, 27 TDs and 16 INTs || 47 Carries for 120 Yards and 4 TDs
Andy Dalton is one of those quarterbacks where it doesn’t really matter if he’s at home or on the road as he pretty much puts up the same numbers no matter where he is. However, the Bengals themselves tend to win more when Dalton passes less, so don’t be surprised to see them try to control the clock with their running game. In games where their opponent ran the ball 25 times or more, the Houston Texans went 2-4, with those two wins coming against the Titans and Jaguars. I expect the Bengals coaching staff to know this.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (RB Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 6 of 24)
2012 Season: 278 Carries for 1,094 Yards and 6 TDs || 22 Receptions for 104 Yards and 0 TDs
I have no doubt BenJarvus Green-Ellis did better this season than was expected, especially during a five-week stretch in the second half of the season when he put up four 100-yard games, three touchdowns and five straight double-digit fantasy performances. However, the Law Firm didn’t play in the Bengals Week 17 game after coming down with a hamstring injury in warm-ups, so he’s a bit on the cold side going into Saturday’s matchup with the Texans. That being said, he’s been practicing on a limited basis this week and should be fine come game-time. The formula to beat the Texans seems to be to run the ball at least 25 times in the game, so if he’s healthy enough to take it on, I anticipate a heavy workload for Green-Ellis.
Cedric Peerman (RB Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 11 of 22)
2012 Season: 36 Carries for 258 Yards and 1 TD || 9 Receptions for 85 Yards and 0 TDs
Here are a couple of things you might not know about Cedric Peerman. First, he’s one of the fastest running backs in the NFL and was once clocked at 4.34 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Second, he’s an ordained minister. With the Houston Texans being possibly the best run-stuffing team in the NFL (unfortunately for Green-Ellis), the Bengals might do well to run outside a bit using a kid with both speed and God on his side.
Brian Leonard (RB Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 18 of 22)
2012 Season: 33 Carries for 106 Yards and 0 TDs || 11 Receptions for 67 Yards and 0 TDs
Leonard has one touchdown in his six-year career and put up more than three fantasy points just once the entire season—in Week 17 when the Bengals sat Green-Ellis for the game. With the Law Firm back and Cedric Peerman also ready to go, Leonard’s chance of doing anything of significance is slim to none.
A.J. Green (WR Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 3 of 32)
2012 Season: 97 Receptions for 1,350 Yards and 11 TDs
For quite a while there, A.J. Green was the gold standard to which all other fantasy wide receivers were compared. He was targeted a ton, made plenty of catches, had 100-yard games and my ohhhhh my, those weekly touchdowns. Recently, however, things haven’t been the same with Green putting up one just 100-yard and one touchdown over the final five weeks of the season. Still, the 6’4” receiver is a caged beast who could explode at any moment—especially on the road where he averaged 106.8 yards while catching six of his 11 TDs this season. Houston’s pass defense isn’t nearly as dominant as it was last season, so even though I expect Green to be double- and sometimes triple-teamed, he should still pull through with some nice numbers this playoff weekend.
Marvin Jones (WR Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 17 of 32)
2012 Season: 18 Receptions for 201 Yards and 1 TD
Andrew Hawkins (WR Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 21 of 32)
2012 Season: 51 Receptions for 533 Yards and 4 TDs
Brandon Tate (WR Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 30 of 32)
2012 Season: 13 Receptions for 211 Yards and 1 TD
Jermaine Gresham (TE Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 3 of 14)
2012 Season: 64 Receptions for 737 Yards and 5 TDs
Jermaine Gresham’s overall play this year has inched him into the top ten fantasy discussion heading into next season, though for myself, I’m still not completely convinced. He has most of you could ever want in a tight end, but a trend I’m finding to be quite bothersome so far in his career is his poor play down the stretch of a season, particularly over his team’s last five games. It’s as if his body never got past playing the shortened college schedule. Be that as it may, Gresham has a great matchup this playoff weekend going up against a Texans defense that allowed the most touchdowns and fourth most fantasy points to tight ends this season. Cinci will need him to step up if they want to win this game, so hopefully Jermaine can step it up for them.
Houston Texans (12-4)
Houston Rush Offense: 132.7 Yards/Game (8th) || 19 TDs (4th)
Houston Pass Offense: 239.4 Yards/Game (11th) || 22 TDs (T-18th)
Opponent Defensive Ranks
Cincinnati Rush Defense: 107.2 Yards Allowed/Game (12th) || 13 TDs Allowed (T-18th)
Cincinnati Pass Defense: 212.5 Yards Allowed/Game (7th) || 16 TDs Allowed (T-4th)
Houston Offensive Cast
Matt Schaub (QB Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 7 of 8)
2012 Season: 350/544 for 4,008 Yards, 22 TDs and 12 INTs || 21 Carries for -9 Yards and 0 TDs
Schaub has his good games and his bad, though his best games usually come at home. That being said, I’m still not expecting much out of him this Saturday as Count Chuckula finished off the regular season about as poor as you could imagine. After tossing up just one touchdown and three interceptions in his last four games combined (three Texans losses), it would be fair to say that opposing defenses figured out how to stop them, so my guess is that a top-notch Bengals pass D will do the same.
Arian Foster (RB Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 4 of 22)
2012 Season: 351 Carries for 1,424 Yards and 15 TDs || 40 Receptions for 217 Yards and 2 TDs
You can’t really say a guy was a bad fantasy player when he had more touchdowns than games played in a season, though I wouldn’t blame fantasy owners for feeling that way with the way Arian Foster performed in the last half of 2012. Is it possible the Texans overused him in the first half? Absolutely, but the bright side heading into the playoffs is that Foster has seen 20 or more touches in a game just once in the last five weeks, so he should be ready for a full load this Saturday. Look for Houston to do what they do best against the Bengals, which is to wear the defense down with one of the league’s best rushing attacks until inevitably; they finally break.
Ben Tate (RB Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 12 of 22)
2012 Season: 65 Carries for 279 Yards and 2 TDs || 11 Receptions for 49 Yards and 0 TDs
Injuries aside, I expected more from Ben Tate this season. His future is still bright and he may even become the Texans lead back some day, but as for this weekend, I don’t expect to see him spell Foster for more than five to eight carries.
Justin Forsett (RB Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 21 of 22)
2012 Season: 63 Carries for 374 Yards and 1 TD || 3 Receptions for 38 Yards and 0 TDs
The only way I see Forsett getting any play in this one is if Foster or Tate go down to injury.
Andre Johnson (WR Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 1 of 32)
2012 Season: 112 Receptions for 1,598 Yards and 4 TDs
Old Man Johnson didn’t quite play his age this year, as it could easily be argued that despite his usual touchdown deficiency, Andre might very well have had the best season of his career in 2012. Cincinnati, however, has been one of the best at defending the pass all year long so ‘Dre will certainly have his work cut out for him this weekend. Last year when these two teams met in the first round of the playoffs, Johnson put up 90 yards and a touchdown on five catches (nine targets), numbers he may need to out-do if the Texans want to move on into the next round. I believe he will.
Kevin Walter (WR Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 22 of 32)
2012 Season: 41 Receptions for 518 Yards and 2 TDs
DeVier Posey (WR Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 25 of 32)
2012 Season: 6 Receptions for 87 Yards and 0 TDs
Keshawn Martin (WR Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 29 of 32)
2012 Season: 10 Receptions for 85 Yards and 1 TD
Lestar Jean (WR Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 31 of 32)
2012 Season: 6 Receptions for 151 Yards and 1 TD
Owen Daniels (TE Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 5 of 14)
2012 Season: 62 Receptions for 716 Yards and 6 TDs
Owen Daniels has hit the skids as of late averaging just three catches for 32.2 yards with NO touchdowns over the last five weeks of the season. Some of it can be attributed to nagging injuries taking their toll, but the Texans offense as a whole hasn’t played very well either, and you can’t blame it all on Owen. Cincinnati can be had for a decent amount of catches and yardage, but a tight end hasn’t scored on them since Week 9, so don’t expect a slumping Daniels to suddenly pull a 180 here.
James Casey (TE Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 10 of 14)
2012 Season: 34 Receptions for 330 Yards and 3 TDs
Garrett Graham (TE Week 1 Playoff Fantasy Ranking: 12 of 14)
2012 Season: 28 Receptions for 263 Yards and 3 TDs
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