What We Saw: Steelers at Bengals

Boy, the Steelers really bungled this one

Steelers @ Bengals


The first half of Monday night’s contest between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati was just about the ugliest half of football imaginable for the Steelers’ offense. QB Ben Roethlisberger finished the first quarter with 2/8 passing with 4 deflections – many of which were close to being interceptions. The Steelers’ 3 total first-half turnovers led directly to 17 Cincinnati points – and while the Steelers played better in the second half and made it a close game, in the end, it was just too much for them to overcome. Bengals’ RB Giovani Bernard was the fantasy darling of the first half – finishing with 50 total yards, 2 total TDs, and 15 touches. The Bengals ultimately prevailed with a 27-17 victory, sending the Steelers’ to their third consecutive loss. How does this shake out for your fantasy playoff matchups? Let’s dive into what we saw:


Pittsburgh Steelers




Ben Roethlisberger: 20/38, 170 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 fumble, 1 sack | 2 carries, -1 yard


As mentioned in the opening, it was certainly a tough first half for Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger. He finished with just 19 passing yards and 2 turnovers in the first half – and if you were depending on him for a playoff victory, you were left sorely disappointed. Roethlisberger just seemed off for most of the night. He underthrew receivers, he threw behind receivers, his accuracy just wasn’t there. It was certainly a bad time for Roethlisberger’s managers for him to have his worst fantasy output of the year. Starting off the second half, Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense seemed to find a bit of life – hitting WR Diontae Johnson on a 23-yard TD strike in the 3rd quarter. All in all, it was an awful outing for Roethlisberger. He will hope to rebound next week against a tougher Indianapolis defense.



Running Backs


Benny Snell: 18 carries, 84 yards, 1 TD | 4 targets, 3 receptions, 23 yards

Jaylen Samuels: 1 carry, 4 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 12 yards

Anthony McFarland: 1 carry, 5 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 9 yards


While the Steelers’ offense struggled for most of the night, RB Benny Snell was definitely a bright spot for them. Snell looked explosive on a 29-yard run to set up a field goal near the end of the third quarter, and he found the end-zone from a yard out in the 4th. It was telling how significantly Snell out-touched his fellow backfield mates RB Jaylen Samuels and RB Anthony McFarland in the absence of typical starting RB James Conner. It was expected that Samuels and/or McFarland could be moved into a larger role without Conner in the mix, but the two combined for just 4 touches – compared to 21 total touches for Snell. The Steelers’ offense didn’t rely much on the running game, but Snell made the most of his opportunities. It will be worth keeping an eye on whether or not Conner can return for most leagues’ fantasy finals next week against the Colts.



Wide Receivers/Tight Ends


Diontae Johnson: 13 targets, 8 receptions, 59 yards, 1 TD

Chase Claypool: 8 targets, 3 receptions, 54 yards | 1 carry, -6 yards

JuJu Smith-Schuster: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 15 yards, 1 fumble 


The struggles of Ben Roethlisberger carried over to the Steelers’ pass-catching group. WR Diontae Johnson paced the group in yardage and targets, and he was also on the receiving end of the only one of Roethlisberger’s passing TDs. Johnson made a nice step to keep outside leverage on the right sideline, and Roethlisberger threw an absolute dime right between the numbers. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster had a dreadful outing – including losing his first fumble of the season. WR Chase Claypool was also a disappointment with less than 10 PPR fantasy points. This Steelers’ offense has really been in a funk lately, but even with his drops, Johnson has definitely been the most consistent of the bunch over the second half of the season. It’s worth mentioning that TE Eric Ebron left in the first half with a back injury and did not return to the game. The Steelers completed the game without a single reception by a TE.



Cincinnati Bengals




Ryan Finley: 7/13, 89 yards, 1 TDs, 2 sacks | 10 carries, 47 yards, 1 TD 


While Bengals’ 3rd-string QB Ryan Finley likely wasn’t on anyone’s fantasy radar coming into this week, he actually provided a respectable outing with his legs. Finley short-armed several throws to open receivers that could have provided more output from a passing standpoint, but his 47 rushing yards and rushing TD played a big factor in his overall production. It is yet to be seen whether QB Brandon Allen can return from his knee injury in Week 16, but either way, you will do yourself a favor to stay away from either of these QBs in your fantasy championship matchup.



Running Backs


Giovani Bernard: 25 carries, 83 yards, 1 TD | 1 target, 1 reception, 14 yards, 1 TD

Samaje Perine: 4 carries, 14 yards


Bengals’ RB Giovani Bernard has been hit-or-miss in RB Joe Mixon‘s absence this season – and mostly a miss as of late. But Bernard bailed out his fantasy managers who were leaning on him on Monday night – finding the end-zone twice and racking up almost 100 total scrimmage yards against a tough Steelers’ defensive front. Both of Giovani’s TDs came in the 2nd quarter off of Pittsburgh turnovers. And while Bernard wasn’t very efficient with his touches, his two scores more than made up for it. RB Samaje Perine wasn’t much of a factor, and shouldn’t be considered as a fantasy option moving forward. While the Bengals haven’t offered any timetable for a Mixon return, it is unlikely we will see him suit up next week against a soft Houston run defense. Bernard will certainly be worth flex consideration in that one.



Wide Receivers/Tight Ends


Tee Higgins: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 31 yards

Tyler Boyd: 1 targets, 0 receptions

A.J. Green: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 40 yards


If you thought that QB Brandon Allen was a value-killer for your Bengals’ pass-catchers, you really got a discouraging look on Monday night from QB Ryan Finley. Hopefully, Allen’s awful play filling in for injured QB Joe Burrow was enough to force you to fade your Bengals’ receivers, but if not, you definitely had a bad night on Monday. The only salvageable piece, WR Tyler Boyd, was knocked from the game in the first quarter with a concussion. Boyd slammed the back of his head on the turf pretty violently, so it wasn’t surprising that he couldn’t return. Hopefully, you left Boyd on the bench where he belonged, and his goose egg didn’t cost you a shot at a fantasy championship next week!


Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

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