In what has become one of the NFL’s newest and most heated rivalries, Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals the defending AFC North champion travel to the Steel City to face Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. This game will have big implications on your fantasy football team during Week 2.
To say that these two teams do NOT like each other is a huge understatement, as witnessed in last year’s 18-16 Steelers win in the AFC Wild Card game in a driving rain storm in the Queen City, in which star linebacker Vontaze Burfict would be ejected for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Steeler wideout Antonio Brown.
Dalton, who has a career record of 51-26-1 as a starter, has had a miserable career vs. the Steelers in going just 3-7. Last year’s 18-16 win, Dalton was on the sidelines due to a season-ending broken thumb injury in trying to tackle Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt after throwing an interception in a 33-20 home loss to Pittsburgh.
In ten games vs. Pittsburgh, Dalton has completed 58.3 percent of his passes—down from his career mark of 62.5 percent—for 2,034 yards, 12 touchdowns, ten interceptions for a QB passer rating of 76.5, down from his career mark of 88.7, per Pro Football Reference
From a fantasy standpoint, his career average stat line of 1.2 touchdowns, one interception, 203.4 yards passing and 18.8 completions. For those in leagues that score attempts and completions, this does not bode well for Dalton owners, especially in a heated rivalry game in perhaps the toughest venue for a visiting QB in Heinz Field.
While the Steelers defense has some holes that Dalton could exploit, there is just something that makes visiting QB’s look like they are playing uphill at Heinz against the blitz-happy Steelers and their loud and raucous Terrible Towel-waving crowd.
While Dalton might be able to take advantage of a suspect Pittsburgh secondary thanks to throwing to A.J. Green, he no longer has the likes of Mohamed Sanu (Falcons) and Marvin Jones (Lions) to spread the ball around to. Also, tight end Tyler Eifert is out due to an ankle injury.
With Eifert officially ruled out and playing in a traditionally rough-and-tumble game on the road, I’d advise against starting the Red Rifle, as the Steelers in Pittsburgh will once again muzzle him.
Projected FF stat line: 236 yards passing, one touchdown, three interceptions, three sacks.
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