The Bengals have been here before. So have their fantasy owners.
In Week 14 last season, quarterback Andy Dalton went down for the year with a broken thumb. He was on pace for his second-best season, and the Bengals, who were 10-2 entering the game, went 2-2 in the last four and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
On Sunday, wide receiver A.J. Green, who ranks second in the league in receiving yards, went down with a hamstring injury that will cost him an indefinite amount of time. Later, the Bengals learned that running back Giovani Bernard would miss the rest of the year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Losing Bernard shouldn’t break anyone’s season. He was at best a low-end RB2 because of his timeshare with Jeremy Hill. Hill’s owners are the big winners in all of this, and tight end Tyler Eifert gets an uptick in value, as well.
You won’t match Green’s production without a trade, but there are viable scoring options available. If you decide to stay in-house, Tyler Boyd, owned in only 5 percent of ESPN leagues, is the best bet. He had the best game among Bengals wideouts after Green departed and caught Dalton’s lone touchdown pass.
If you prefer to steer clear of the Bengals’ situation and can’t swing a deal, here are three wide receivers owned in less than half of ESPN leagues worth grabbing off the waiver wire:
Marqise Lee, Jaguars (96 percent): Blake Bortles has thrown the second-most passes in the league, so the offense can support two receivers. Lee has become the second receiver behind Allen Robinson. He has been targeted 22 times in the last three games and scored his first touchdown of the season Sunday. The schedule is brutal, but the Jaguars can put up garbage-time points as well as anyone.
Tyreek Hill, Chiefs (71 percent): He has the ability to get downfield with five catches of 20 yards or more in the last five weeks. He also has a bigger opportunity with Jeremy Maclin nursing a groin injury. You don’t want to start him this week against the Broncos’ No. 2 pass defense, but his next three games are against the Falcons, Raiders and Titans, all of whom rank in the bottom nine in pass defense.
DeVante Parker, Dolphins (52 percent availability): Parker has 13 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown in his last two games. Those numbers came against a porous Chargers defense and a tough Rams unit. His next two games are against the 49ers and Ravens, who rank in the top four in points allowed to wideouts.
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WEEK 12 OUTLOOK
Ravens WR Steve Smith: He has 27 points in the last two games with a touchdown catch in each. Expect a strong finish to his career.
Giants WR Sterling Shepard: He has a touchdown in three consecutive games, and the schedule is passing-friendly for the next month.
Ravens RB Terrance West: Kenneth Dixon is closing the gap on West. The rookie had only two fewer snaps Sunday against the Cowboys.
Browns RB Isaiah Crowell: In his last three games, he has carried 23 times for 37 yards (1.6 yards per carry) and has scored 13 points.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger: In his last two games against the Colts (in 2014 and ’15), he has combined for 886 yards and 10 TD passes.
Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi: He should be able to crack 100 yards against the 49ers, who rank last in run defense and are tied for the most TD runs allowed to RBs.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford: The Vikings’ defense, which got its groove back against the Cardinals, has allowed the third-fewest points per game to QBs.
Bears RB Jordan Howard: Throw out one awful game, and the Titans have allowed 12.3 points per game to RBs, which would be the fourth-fewest.