QB – Ryan Fitzpatrick – We probably wouldn’t recommend Fitzpatrick for fantasy use even under ideal circumstances, so we certainly can’t recommend using him against Pittsburgh’s top ranked pass defense on the road in week 12. He is not worth consideration.
RB – Cedric Benson – The Steelers currently rank 1st in the NFL allowing just under 70 rushing yards per game in addition to giving up only 4 rushing TD’s all season. In a week 7 meeting with the Pittsburgh, Benson rushed for 52 yards and 0 TD’s on 14 carries, and he probably won’t fare any better this time around. We recommend sitting Benson with this match up unless you are extremely desperate.
WR – T.J. Houshmandzadeh – He is coming off of his best effort of the season in week 11 with 12 receptions for 149 yards and a TD. While this is a promising development with regard to Housmandzadeh’s fantasy potential moving forward, we can’t see him repeating those kind of numbers against Pittsburgh’s top ranked pass defense in week 12. That said, Housh is still capable of solid production and should be considered a decent fantasy play as a WR2 in PPR leagues and a risky WR3 in non PPR leagues. As a side note, he had 8 catches for 58 yards against the Steelers back in week 7. Check injury report: back
WR – Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson – In spite of a solid week 7 performance against the Steelers which included 52 receiving yards and a TD, Johnson is a shaky fantasy play against Pittsburgh’s top ranked pass defense in week 12. He should be considered a risky WR3 at best and we suggest using a safer option if one is available to you. UPDATE: Johnson has been deactivated for Thursday night's game against Pittsburgh for violating team rules and will not play. Do not use Johnson on your fantasy roster. Chris Henry will likely fill in for Johnson, but Henry is not a safe fantasy option considering the match up and his lackluster production since returning to active duty.
TE – Ben Utecht – He was done little if anything to merit fantasy use to this point, much less against a defense as solid as Pittsburgh’s. Do not use him in week 12 or any other week for that matter.
K – Shayne Graham – While Graham has hit true on 13 of his 15 FG attempts this season, only 4 kickers in the NFL have fewer attempts, and his 9 extra points on the season ranks dead last in the NFL. Graham is a good kicker, but the Bengals offense rarely gets into the field position necessary to utilize his services. That will likely be the case again in week 12 against Pittsburgh’s top ranked defense. Graham is not recommended for fantasy use on Thursday night.
Bengals Defense – They are not completely horrible, but they are far from good, and should not be considered for week 12 fantasy use against Pittsburgh.
QB – Ben Roethlisberger – Despite throwing for 308 yards last week against San Diego, Roethlisberger was unable to find the end zone. It was the third consecutive game in which he has gone without a TD pass, and he has just 1 TD pass to 8 interceptions in his last 4 games. In fact, the last time Roethlisberger put up a quality stat line was back in week 7 against the very Bengals team that he will face on Thursday night. This could be the match up that gets him on track, but there are no guarantees with his erratic play in recent weeks. While he wouldn’t be our first choice and you shouldn’t expect a huge performance, Roethlisberger can be considered a low end QB1 for week 12.
RB – Willie Parker – After rushing for 115 yards in week 11, Parker erased any doubt we may have had with regard to his health and he should be good to go again on Thursday night. That said, we expect a solid outing for Parker with this match up. The Bengals rank just 23rd in the NFL against the run and Parker has a great track record against them. Parker should be considered a low end RB1 or a high end RB2 depending on you options. He also makes for a great flex play.
WR – Hines Ward – If you had to pick one team to use Ward against in fantasy play, it would probably be the Bengals. In his last 3 games against Cincinnati, Ward has 5 TD receptions and that includes a 60 yard, 1 TD performance against them back in week 7. He should be started in all formats as a high end WR2.
WR – Santonio Holmes – In spite of his vast talents, Holmes has been a big disappointment this season as a classic underachiever. While he should have ample opportunity to prove useful in week 12 against a middle of the road Bengals secondary, you know by now that he is far from being a reliable fantasy option. Holmes is no better than a WR3 depending on your options.
WR – Nate Washington – While he usually sees at least one opportunity for a deep ball every game, there are no guarantees that Washington is going to make the play, and he is rarely targeted otherwise. Washington is not a safe fantasy play for week 12.
TE – Heath Miller – He is still nursing a sprained ankle and his availability for Thursday night is highly questionable. Even if he plays, Miller is a risky fantasy start with the fragile ankle. We suggest going with a safer option at TE for week 12. Check injury report: ankle - game time decision
TE – Matt Spaeth – He was solid in week 11, but there is a decent chance that Pittsburgh’s regular starter at TE, Heath Miller, will be back in week 12 which would pretty much diminish any fantasy value Spaeth might have. However, if Spaeth should get the start, he might be a decent fantasy option against a Bengals defense that has struggled against TE’s. At this point you are probably better off securing a safer option at TE under the circumstances. Check injury report: wrist
K – Jeff Reed – While he hasn’t seen more than 1 FG attempt in any of his last 4 games against the Bengals, he typically gets plenty of work in the extra point department against them. Reed is a solid kicker and weather permitting; he should be useful for fantasy play in week 12. Start him.
Steelers Defense – For more reasons than we have time to explain, the Pittsburgh defense is a must start fantasy option in week 12 with this match up.