The Cincinnati Bengals are the epitome of being a “fringe” team. What I mean by that is the Bengals are good, but not great. They are reliably unreliable. But that is in terms of real football. In terms of fantasy football they are better, but still have some fringe players. Like Andy “The King of the Fringe” Dalton… Okay I just made up that nickname, but if it wasn’t so wordy I bet that nickname would stick. Anyways I’m going to dissect the whole Bengals team and figure out who you can trust on your fantasy team and who you can’t.
The aforementioned fringe king Andy Dalton has a firm grip on the starting quarterback position for the Bengals. But is he worthy of the starting quarterback position on your fantasy team? Probably not. There are certainly worse options out there than Dalton, but with the well of quarterbacks being as prosperous as it is right now you should, no matter what, have a better QB1 on your team than Dalton. Having said that, I’m sure that Dalton will have some clutch 20 point weeks. Interspersed with a lot of mediocre-crappy performances of course. But his upside week to week can be pretty high, and Dalton can definitely hold down the QB2 spot on your roster. Especially if he has a favorable matchup the week that your QB1 has a bye.
The Bengals running backs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill are quite possibly the most dynamic running duo on any NFL team. I personally have Jeremy Hill ranked as the 7th best running back in this years draft, and I don’t have Gio that much further down the line. Hill will get the lion’s share of the carries this year and will definitely be a premier RB1 for your fantasy team. But Hill’s potential doesn’t ruin Bernard’s value. Bernard is such an explosive playmaker that getting fewer touches just means that he will have fresh legs when he does get touches. Bernard will be similar to Dalton in that he will have some big 20+ point weeks interspersed with some crappy 3-4 point weeks. As long as Hill is healthy Bernard is a solid flex starter or a possible RB2 on your fantasy team. With the potential to be a RB1 in PPR leagues, or standard leagues if Hill gets injured. I would be willing to target Bernard in the 5th round, and Hill in the first if I’m the 8th pick or worse.
Even though Mohamad Sanu had a decent fantasy season last year (finished 45th amongst all WR), I imagine that AJ Green will be the only Bengal receiver worth targeting in fantasy football. Sanu really only finished with mediocre stats because Green wasn’t at full strength last year. With Green in a contract year I expect him to put up huge numbers and is definitely worth a WR1 selection on your fantasy team. AJ Green is the 8th best wide receiver in this years draft in my opinion, so if you have the chance to take him in the late second or early third round you should take it. As a sort of wide receiver handcuff it may be wise to draft Sanu very late in the draft just in case Green goes down. The good thing about drafting Sanu is you could probably take him with your last pick as his average draft position is 222nd overall according to fantasypros.com
Last year one of the tight ends I was highest on was the Bengals Tyler Eifert. I even drafted him in multiple leagues (something I almost never do). Then he injured his elbow and had to miss the whole season. It was brutal. But such is the game of fantasy football. However, I’m still just as high on Eifert this year, if not even higher on him! Eifert, unlike what was projected last year, will unequivocally be the number two receiver on the Bengals, AND, will be the number one tight end. Last year Eifert had to compete with the very well established veteran tight end Jermaine Gresham. But this year the number one tight end spot solely belongs to Eifert. With AJ Green constantly drawing double coverage down field, defenses having to worry about stopping the powerful Jeremy Hill in the run game, and somehow deal with the mismatch of trying to cover the elusive Giovani Bernard in the short pass game, that should leave Eifert in a great position to be a clutch performer for the Bengals this year. Eifert is a prime example of how deep the tight end well is this season. You can easily load up your team with wide receivers and running backs with high potential, and not worry about drafting your tight end until very late if you decide to go with Eifert. Eifert’s average draft position is as the 16th tight end of the board, and he very easily could finish inside the top 10.
You probably want to stay away from Bengals kicker Mike Nugent in fantasy football this year. Nugent is coming off of his worst statistical kicking year, and has a number of other red flags that make him an unreliable fantasy kicker. For one he plays in the AFC North, so he will be kicking in a lot of cold outdoor situations, which is obviously unideal circumstances for kicking. Nugent also plays on a team that has a lot of offensive weapons, but because of inconsistent quarterback play, the offense can’t be trusted to give Nugent enough kicking opportunities. There are a lot of better kicking options in the league, I definitely suggest you look at one of those.
If you want a good fantasy defense you should also look elsewhere. The Bengals were dismal in stopping the run last season, and ranked as the leagues worst in sack totals. When you can’t stop the run or get to the quarterback your defense is going to have a lot of trouble. Especially in the AFC North were teams run games are particularly strong, and teams quarterbacks are also particularly difficult to sack. I see no reason to think that the Bengals will be much better this year, however they really can’t be much worse. Definitely don’t draft them, but keep your eye on how they are playing. I like to play my defenses week to week, so if the Bengals D starts returning to old form and they have a favorable matchup approaching it is conceivable that I would play them. But they definitely won’t be my first option, and they shouldn’t be yours either.
What do you think of the Bengals 2015 fantasy outlook? Let us know in the comment