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Packers vs. Bengals Fantasy Advice: Bench James Starks; Start Giovani Bernard

With the Green Bay Packers facing a much tougher test in the Cincinnati Bengals defense this week, a second straight 100-yard game from Starks is simply expecting too much.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Take note fantasy football players, the Cincinnati Bengals defense is going to do everything in its power to assure Aaron Rodgers, James Starks, James Jones and the rest of the Packers offense will not put up 580 yards of total offense for a second straight week.

As a result, it's time to temper expectations for all of you Starks and Jones owners out there. But if you own any of the pieces of the Bengals offense, they might be pretty solid plays in a game with a current total of 50.5 points.

In this article for Acme Packing Company, I'll break down the Packers/Bengals game by position from a fantasy perspective, giving statistical predictions and start-or-sit advice. (Just don't hammer me on Twitter TOO bad when I ruin your fantasy week.) If I don't write about a certain player, that means you should not contemplate starting him unless you play in the deepest of deep fantasy leagues or you've been hammered with about five or six injuries to your starters already this season.


The Pack's ground game will not be as successful this week against the league's fifth-ranked run defense. The Bengals are only giving up 62.5 yards this season (granted against the Chicago Bears' Matt Forte and the dreck that the Pittsburgh Steelers have trotted out). So Rodgers will air it out early and often. Bengals' quarterback Andy Dalton will be forced to follow suit in a game that I think will be closer to a shootout than a slobberknocker.

Rodgers--310 yards, 3 touchdowns passing; 25 yards/0 touchdowns rushing
Verdict: Start in all leagues

Dalton--275 yards, 2 touchdowns passing
Verdict: Start only in two quarterback leagues


Many players in the Fantasy Football Players Championship spent a lot of their FAAB budget on James Starks this past week. And given that these owners all ponied up the better part of $2,000 to try and win a $250,000 grand prize, they are pretty sharp when it comes to the waiver wire. But this is not the week to play Starks. Remember how much he disappointed last year? And the year before that? I'm expecting a performance much closer to those "vintage Starks" games this week. As for the Bengals, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden spoke highly of rookie running back Giovani Bernard this week after his two touchdown performance on Monday Night Football. I think Bernard has another good game this week, while "starter" BenJarvus Green-Ellis underwhelms. Again.

Starks--40 yards, 0 touchdowns rushing; 3 catches, 20 yards, 0 touchdowns receiving
Verdict: Start as RB3 in 12-team leagues

Bernard--70 yards, 1 touchdown rushing; 4 catches 40 yards, 0 touchdowns receiving
Verdict: Start as RB2 in all leagues

Green-Ellis--40 yards, 0 touchdowns rushing; 0 catches receiving
Verdict: Start as RB3/RB4 in FFPC formats (PPR and multiple flex spots); bench in all other shallower leagues


Here's where things get juicy from a fantasy standpoint. I think that there will be more fantasy goodness to be mined at this position than a lot of other analysts are saying this weekend. A.J. Green and Randall Cobb will probably play an impromptu game of "Can You Top This?" Green will come out on top if for no other reason than Jordy Nelson, Jones and Finley will be taking away from Cobb's output. Unless his name is Mohamed Sanu, you should probably be starting your receivers in this match-up this week.

Cobb--8 catches, 85 yards, 1 touchdown
Verdict: Start in all leagues

Nelson--6 catches, 70 yards, 1 touchdown
Verdict: Start in all leagues

Jones--4 catches, 65 yards, 0 touchdowns
Verdict: Start as WR3 in 12-team leagues, WR4 in 10-team leagues

Green--9 catches, 130 yards, 1 touchdown
Verdict: Start in all leagues

Sanu--3 catches 30 yards, 0 touchdowns
Verdict: Start only in 14-team leagues that require three wide receivers


Finley might finally be done teasing us and having that breakout season we've all expected from him since 2011. He's playing through a (seemingly) painful toe injury, not complaining about Rodgers not throwing to him and working hard after the catch on the field. I like him and Cobb on those underneath routes this week while Nelson and Jones are stretching the field. On the flip side, Jermaine Gresham showed us that he should not be forgotten with six grabs for 66 yards last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rookie tight ends tend to struggle in their first year in the league, so I'll be hard-pressed to really like Tyler Eifert in any game this season.

Finley--5 catches, 70 yards, 1 touchdown
Verdict: Start in all leagues

Gresham--4 catches, 50 yards, 1 touchdown
Verdict: Start as borderline TE1 in FFPC formats

Eifert--3 catches, 30 yards, 0 touchdowns
Verdict: Start only as a TE3 if necessary


I think Mason Crosby is starting to get the yips out of his game, and any kicker on an offense as talented as Green Bay's deserves to be an every week start. I have no doubt that the Packers defense will allow the Bengals to move the ball pretty well Sunday, but if they can trip them up before they get to the red zone, Mike Nugent could have an OK day. But I think it's much more likely that he will be kicking extra points than field goals.

Crosby--2/2 field goals, 3/3 extra points
Start in all leagues

Nugent--1/1 field goals. 3/3 extra points
Bench in most leagues


I alluded to it earlier, but I don't feel that the Bengals are a big play-type defense. It gets its value from notching three-and-outs by the handful. They'll probably force one turnover, but I can't see them doing much more than that. On the Packers side of things, safety Morgan Burnett is already out, and that secondary is still missing the ball-hawking Charles Woodson. So I don't foresee much excitement from either unit in Week 3.

Packers--2 sacks, 0 fumble recoveries, 1 interception, 0 touchdowns, 400 yards and 24 points allowed
Bench in all leagues

Bengals--3 sacks, 0 fumble recoviers, 1 interception, 0 touchdowns, 430 yards and 27 points allowed
Bench in all leagues

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