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What Ja’Marr Chase injury means for Bengals WRs in fantasy football for Week 16

With the top wide receiver sidelined, Cincinnati will need players to step up. We go over the options to replace Chase and which Bengals WR will have the best fantasy day.

Tee Higgins of the Cincinnati Bengals warms up prior to a NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings at Paycor Stadium on December 16, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo by Jeff Dean/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals will take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 16 of the NFL season. When these teams matched up in Week 12, Cincinnati already had Jake Browning under center but was missing Tee Higgins. This week, they will be down Ja’Marr Chase, who has been ruled out due to a shoulder injury. With Chase sidelined, which Bengals receivers are worth a nod in Week 16 fantasy football lineups?

The Steelers’ defense gives up middle-of-the-road numbers to opposing wide receivers, allowing the 18th most fantasy points per game to wideouts. The Bengals’ pass-catchers should have an extra upside in this week’s matchup as Pittsburgh has ruled out safeties Minkah Fitzpatrick (knee), Damontae Kazee (suspension) and Trenton Thompson (neck). A fourth safety, Elijah Riley, is questionable with an ankle injury.

When these teams matched up a month ago, Chase led the receivers, bringing in four of his six targets for 81 yards. Tyler Boyd came down with three receptions for 23 yards on five targets. Browning threw for 227 yards in the 16-10 loss. Since then, the quarterback has thrown for 354, 275 and 324 yards, respectively.

With Chase sidelined, Higgins should take over as the WR1 on the outside. Tyler Boyd and Trenton Irwin will likely fill in behind him, with running back Joe Mixon and tight end Tanner Hudson being other options for Browning. Higgins brought in four of his eight targets last week for 61 yards and two touchdowns. Boyd has been more of a role player this year, coming down with more than 60 receiving yards in only one game. Irwin has been featured even less, with just 18 receptions for 241 yards and a touchdown in seven games this season.

Higgins has flex appeal in 8-team leagues and can be started in your wide receiver spot in 10-team leagues or larger. Boyd and Irwin are tougher to place, but they shouldn’t be started in leagues smaller than 12-team leagues. Personally, I think you would have to be in dire straights, especially with the playoffs on the line, to play either in 12-team leagues. If you had to play one of them, I’d lean Boyd. Irwin can be started in 14-team leagues in the hopes he comes down with a touchdown.