The Cincinnati Bengals in 2014 might regress as a result of their success in 2013 as both coordinators have left to become head coaches for others teams. Andy Dalton no longer has quarterback guru, Jay Gruden, who’s now in Washington, and Mike Zimmer, who crafted the Bengals top-five defense is now in Minnesota. What the Bengals do have going for them are budding stars in AJ Green and Giovanni Bernard, both of whom should have monster fantasy years. How does the rest of the team project for fantasy football purposes this year? Let’s take a look.
Dalton gets a lot of flack for his off days which, in all honesty, make him look pretty bad, but the truth is Dalton was a top ten fantasy quarterback last season. It appears as if the new offense under Hue Jackson will be more run-centric, so Dalton’s fantasy impact will be much less in 2014. He remains a solid QB2 option though and while he won’t crack 4,000 passing yards, he should put up decent numbers.
As much as I like Gio Bernard in 2014, he’s still being handcuffed by The Law Firm, BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Bernard clearly showed he had feature back skills in his rookie season last year, but in all likelihood, he’s still going to lose out on a ton of short yardage touchdowns this year. On the positive side, Dalton’s loss is Bernard and Co.’s gain as Jackson will be looking for more balance on offense. Bernard is a solid second-round, RB2 option in 2014. Green-Ellis is likely not worthy of a roster spot given Bernard’s rise in addition to rookie Jeremy Hill fighting for carries as well.
AJ Green is a flat out stud. Even a less pass-happy offense shouldn’t stop Green from being a first round, WR1 draft pick. What Green also has going for him is his durability. Reliable production is so crucial when building a winning team in fantasy football, and Green has durable written all over him. Having only missed one game in his three NFL seasons, you can chalk Green up for 1300+ receiving yards and 10+ touchdowns.
Cincy’s other two receivers worth noting are Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Both were borderline fantasy players to begin with, but with Hue Jackson in town, they aren’t going to produce enough to warrant a roster spot.
The Bengals employ a tight end by committee which will result in neither player being worth a fantasy roster spot. Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham will only be worth a low end TE2 spot in deeper leagues.
Losing Zimmer will hurt, but the Bengals will also benefit on that side of the ball from the return of All-Pro DT Geno Atkins. I expect the Bengals defense to remain about the same in 2014, finishing the year as the fifth or sixth best in the league.
Kicker Mike Nugent ranked 24th among kickers last year, and there’s no reason to expect anymore more from him this year. When it comes to kickers, play the matchups week by week and pick up the best one available off the waiver wire. It’s unlikely Nugent will ever him himself as one of the best availables.
Clearly, Green and Bernard are the prize jewels of this group. Draft them if you can as their value is not overrated. Cincinnati has a lot of question marks with new coordinators on both sides of the ball, but those two players have the talent to transcend transition periods and produce no matter what.
*Photo credit – Navin75 via wiki commons.