Bengals vs Steelers: Fantasy Football Worksheet, Week 4

The Worksheet, a fantasy football overview by Rich Hribar, breaking down everything you need to know for the Week 4 Cincinnati Bengals vs Pittsburgh Steelers Monday night game on September 30, 2019 at 8:15 pm ET.
19.75Implied Total23.75
27.727Points All./Gm28.328
63.317Opp. Plays/Gm70.731
54.2%31Opp. Rush %48.1%29
45.8%2Opp. Pass %51.9%4
  • The Bengals have lost seven consecutive games on the road, their longest road losing streak since 2008.
  • The Steelers are averaging 16.3 fewer plays run per game than their opponents, the largest negative differential in the league. 
  • Mason Rudolph completed 2-of-10 passes for eight yards with one interception under pressure in Week 3 for a 0.0 rating, the lowest rating under pressure in Week 3.
  • Just 23.2% of the Steelers’ passing plays have resulted in a first down, the lowest rate in the league. League average outside of them is 33%.
  • Pittsburgh is averaging just 2.0 red zone opportunities per game, 29th in the league.
  • 35.3% of the Bengals rushing attempts have failed to gain any yards, the highest rate in the league. League average outside of them is 18%.

Trust (spike production for that player)

  • James Conner: He’s been a disaster to start, totaling just 167 total yards (34th) on 45 touches (23rd), but he played a season-high 67.9% of the snaps last week and runs into his best matchup on the season as a home favorite. The Bengals have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing backfields (34.5 per game) and a league-high six touchdowns to the position. If Conner can’t hit here, then there’s no little to no hope moving forward.

On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s average)

  • JuJu Smith-Schuster: He had a 76-yard touchdown and season-high 25.9% of the targets in Rudolph’s first start, but also had a season-low three receptions. He also had a season-low 6.7-yard average depth of target after an 11.6 aDOT Weeks 1-2. The Bengals have allowed a league-low 2.7 receptions per game to opposing lead wideouts, but have faced a bevy of speedy, vertical targets in Tyler Lockett, Marquise Goodwin, and John Brown to start the season. 
  • Tyler Boyd: He’s one of just two wide receivers with double-digit targets in every game this season, but Boyd has averaged just 7.8 yards per target. Boyd is also the only top-24 scoring wide receiver on the season without a touchdown. Newly acquired Minkah Fitzpatrick played just two snaps in the slot in his debut last week, a place where the Steelers have had a wealth of issues. Through three games, the Steelers have allowed opposing slot receivers to combine to post lines of 11-224-3, 11-145-1, and 6-86-0. 
  • Joe Mixon: He played a season-high 57.4% of the snaps while setting early season-highs in touches (17) and yards from scrimmage (95). The Steelers have opened the season allowing 198.7 yards from scrimmage to opposing backfields (31st).
  • John Ross: His target share has decreased each week of the season, but did run into an objectively bad matchup last week against Buffalo and Tre’Davious White. Things get slightly better here against Joe Haden, but he’s allowed the fewest yards (100) and is targeted the least (once every 8.5 coverage snaps) of the Pittsburgh cornerbacks.  

Bust (down-week production for that player’s standards)

  • Mason Rudolph: He looked rough in his first career start. He’ll be at home against a lesser pass rush in his second start. The Bengals aren’t a defense to run from — ranking 28th in passing points allowed per pass attempt — Rudolph could end being a bus driver should game script play out in favor of the Steelers. He is only an option for 2QB formats.
  • James Washington/Diontae Johnson: Washington ran 32 pass routes while Johnson ran 25 routes, but Johnson out-targeted Washington 6-to-4, catching three for 52 yards and a touchdown while Washington caught just two passes for 14 yards. We’re not even sure Rudolph can support Smith-Schuster let alone the secondary targets, so you really need to have to dig this deep. If so, Vance McDonald looking like he’s questionable at best early in the week could open up a few more passing opportunities. 
  • CIN TEs: More of the same story for this group as they don’t have a full-time player.  Through three games, Tyler Eifert has run 60 pass routes and C.J. Uzomah has run 51. Eifert has the target edge 10-to-6, but there needs to be more separation between the two to make a make on using one of these options.

If You Must (intriguing bench option or deeper league play) 

  • Andy Dalton: So far, Dalton’s completion rate, passing yards, and yards per attempt have all declined from the previous week, but in his worst matchup to start the season, Dalton still managed 16.1 fantasy points. The Bengals are still first in the league in neutral-script passing rate (71.4%) and are second in overall passing rate. Being a road dog with a sub-20-point team total keeps Dalton in the break glass pile of streamers, but the volume will be there against a Steelers defense 28th in yards per pass attempt allowed (8.9).

More Week 4 Fantasy breakdowns from The Worksheet:

PHI at GB | TEN at ATL | KC at DET | OAK at IND | LAC at MIA | WAS at NYG | NE at BUF | CLE at BAL | CAR at HOU | TB at LAR | SEA at ARI | MIN at CHI | JAX at DEN | DAL at NO | CIN at PIT