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The Red Rifle from Katy, Andy Dalton, returns to his personal house of horrors to face Ryan Mallett and the Texans. Houston is doing a two-step with the two Ohio teams that boast similar strengths and weaknesses they are tough against the pass and porous against the run. Football Outsiders ranks the Bengals as the eighth-best team against the pass and the thirtieth against the run (the Browns rank seventh against the pass and twenty-ninth against the run).
The Bengals have allowed 14.5 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, tenth-fewest points in the league. YEt Cincinnati has only 13 sacks this season (tied for 31st in the league) and is the middle of pack when it comes to plays of 20+ yards allowed with 47 (17th). Wide receivers have been shut down by the Bengals from a fantasy aspect, Cincy is allowing the thirty-first fewest points with 16.0 point per game. In total, there have been only six touchdowns scored by receivers against the Bengals. On the other side of the coin, the Bengals have allowed the eighth most fantasy points to tight ends at 8.1 per game.
Running backs have had their way with the Bengals, giving up an average of 102.3 rushing yards and a touchdown per game this season.
QB: Ryan Mallett - To paraphrase Coach Bill O'Brien, he hoped Ryan Mallett's play would make you question why he wasn't in sooner as the starter. Mallett did exactly that, completing 20-of-30 passes in Sunday's game for 211 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He got the ball out quickly on time to his receivers, was able to air it out, and thread the needle. The former Razorback appears to brought new life the Texans 'offense.
RB: Arian Foster - I admit I forgot that Bill O'Brien is a disciple of Bill Belichick, and the injury report is a chess game at all time. The best action to take at this time is to ignore any injury reports from this week and pay attention to the inactive report this Sunday. If Foster plays, he has been the best fantasy running back in the NFL. If he doesn't, hopefully you already have already picked up Alfred Blue.
RB: Alfred Blue - No one will confuse Alfred Blue for Arian Foster. He lacks the vision and shiftiness of Foster. But Blue showed on Sunday against the Browns he could carry the load. The LSU product carried the ball 36 times for 156 yards against the Browns. If he is available on your league's waiver wire, which I doubt, he is worth the pick-up even if Foster comes back.
WR: Andre Johnson - Johnson was targeted nine times against the Browns and had seven catches for 68 yards. Johnson's woes with the quarterback play may be over with Mallett's ability to stick in the pass like he did against Joe Haden.
WR: DeAndre Hopkins - The Mallett-Hopkins express left the gate early with a laser on the field for 41 yards on the Texans' first drive. Hopkins gives Houston a weapon that they can continue to take shots down the field via Mallett's arm. Hopkins at the very least should be a flex play each week going forward.
TE: Garrett Graham - The Texans tight ends are alive! Graham caught two passes on two targets for 34 yards and a touchdown. Fair enough--the touchdown pass benefited from a referee pick and probably should have been intercepted.
Summary: Ryan Mallett has brought balance back to the Texans' offensive unit. Johnson and Hopkins should no longer trend in the wrong direction, and Garrett Graham is a nice pickup in deep leagues going forward. It doesn't matter if it's Arian Foster or Alfred Blue; the Texans should run all over the Bengals on Sunday.
Editor's Note: FanDuel is hosting a one-week $550,000 fantasy football league this weekend. It's $10 to join and first place wins $50,000. League starts Sunday 1 PM ET and ends on Monday night. Here's the link.
Bengals vs Texans coverage