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Welcome back for Week 15 of the 2015 NFL season. The San Francisco 49ers are back home facing the Cincinnati Bengals. The 49ers welcome back Vance McDonald, who has emerged into fantasy relevance the last few weeks when healthy. He and Blaine Gabbert have established a nice little connection, and getting back on the field, I would not be surprised if we saw another decent performance from him. Who knew?!
The big news for the Bengals is the loss of Andy Dalton to a fractured thumb. That does downgrade some of their skill position players, and will make the run game interesting. Will Eric Mangini and the 49ers defense stack the box and dare McCarron to beat them, or will they approach him in a more conservative way? The other notable piece of injury news is that tight end Tyler Eifert will not play due to a concussion. That is a big loss for McCarron and this Bengals offense.
Start 'em: Nobody
Maybe start 'em: RB Shaun Draughn, TE Vance McDonald, WR Quinton Patton, WR Anquan Boldin - Draughn is a decent PPR option, but not much else at this point, unless you are dealing with injury issues ... McDonald appears to be healthy, and when healthy has been a notable target for Blaine Gabbert. He is of particular value in PPR leagues ... Torrey Smith was limited last week, and that resulted in more looks to Quinton Patton. I think he and Boldin are nice values in PPR leagues.
Sit 'em: Everybody else
Start 'em: RB Jeremy Hill, WR A.J. Green, K Mike Nugent - The 49ers run defense has been better at home than on the road, but with AJ McCarron starting, I have to think the Bengals will put particular emphasis on their run game. Gio Bernard will get work, but Jeremy Hill is the one must-start of the two ... You don't bench A.J. Green when he is healthy. And with Tramaine Brock dealing with a hamstring injury, all the more so, even with McCarron starting ... The Bengals might not score a ton of points, but Mike Nugent will get some opportunities, particularly field goals if the 49ers defense shows up.
Maybe start 'em: RB Gio Bernard, Bengals D/ST - Bernard is a potential flex option right now, and of course an injury fill-in. The 49ers run defense performs better at home, so it could mean a little less of a performance for Bernard ... The 49ers have avoided turnovers, but they give up a lot of sacks. I could see some improvement this week, considering how bad last week was, but there is still value in the Bengals defense.
Sit 'em: Everybody else - If you are starting AJ McCarron this week, something has gone really wrong at your quarterback position. He had a strong performance last week, throwing for 280 yards and two touchdowns, along with two interceptions. I think we see a better performance from the 49ers defense than the Steelers defense.