2016 Fantasy Football Preview: Cincinnati Bengals

2015 Fantasy Recap

The 2015 season for the Cincinnati Bengals was about as perfectly balanced a season as a team could have been. The defense was one of the league’s best. They were 2nd in points against, 3rd in interceptions, and 10th in sacks. The offense was even more balanced. In passing yards they were 15th, rushing yards they were 13th, and they scored the 7th most points. Andy Dalton was well on his way to a top-five finish had he not broke his thumb in week 14. They had 2 running backs finish in the top 25, 2 receivers in the top 40 and their tight end finished 6th and was a TD machine. As a whole, they were not loaded with too many fantasy studs, but they had plenty of useful players that could help any fantasy team win.

Key Additions and Losses



Quarter Back Fantasy Outlook

Going into 2015 A LOT of people were down on Andy Dalton, but I was not one of them. I have been very pro Dalton his whole career. I do understand though why people were down on him going into last season. In 2014 he had his worse year since his rookie year. What people were overlooking though was that Marvin Jones missed the entire season, Tyler Eifert missed all but 1 quarter, A.J. Green missed 4 games and played injured in others, and Giovani Bernard missed a handful of games that year. That is a ton of offensive weapons not to have at your disposal. I was confident that with all those weapons back Dalton would do well again. Toot my own horn here, I was right. Fast forward 2016 where does that leave Dalton this year? The majority of ranking I have seen have him between 11 and 17 with some having him barely crack the top 10. Well, I am still high on him and I still think he can crack that top ten with ease. I am not sure he pushes the top five again, but I would call him a solid QB1 and considering you could possibly draft him in the 9th or 10th round I would call that a steal.

Grade: B +

 Running Back Fantasy Outlook

When talking about the running back situation in Cincinnati there are only two guys to talk about Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. Both guys finished in the top 25 last year and I expect both guys should do the same this year. The bigger question is probably which one should you target? In standard formats, Hill is for sure the running back to have. In his first 2 years, he has 445 total carries 1900+ yards and 20 TDs. His yards per carry took a big hit from season 1 to season 2, but he is the goal line back and between them, he will get the most carries and TD opportunities hands down. In PPR formats the edge goes to go to Bernard. Although last season their points were very close in PPR formats, I think Bernard will see an uptick in targets with the departure of Marvin Jones and Mohamad Sanu. Either way, both guys are very solid options as RB2 and should be drafted. I would be looking to target either of these guys starting around round 4 or 5.

Grade:  B

Wide Receiver Fantasy Outlook

The receiving corps took a big hit this past off season, but they still have Dalton’s favorite target in A.J. Green, and he is still a top 10 WR in the NFL. I expect him to continue to be awesome and see him easily pulling in a slash of 90/1400/10 this season. With the departure of Jones and Sanu, the Bengals lost 98 receptions 1210 yards and 4 TDs. To make up for that lose the team brought in Brandon LaFell and drafted Tyler Boyd. As of right now, I consider LaFell the likely number 2 only because of his veteran status, but early word out of camp is the Boyd is impressing the coaching staff. It is just camp though and with LaFell on the roster, there is no need to rush Boyd into a starting role. That does not mean Boyd won’t take the spot from LaFell. It is a battle that will need to be watched closely once preseason begins. For drafting purposes, Green is a late first rounder to early second rounder. After Green in redraft leagues, I am not sure I draft LaFell and I would only consider Boyd a sleeper at this point. In dynasty formats though Boyd is a must own.

Grade:  B +

Tight End Fantasy Outlook

Tyler Eifert was a TD machine last season hitting pay dirt 13 times. He caught 1 TD for every 4.4 receptions. Those 13 TD’s propelled him to 6th in score among tight ends. 2 things concern me regarding Eifert though. First his injury history. He did miss three games last year and the year before virtually the whole season. He is even hurt right now and the Bengals are hopeful he is ready by mid to late August. That is not a lot of time to prepare for the season on a bum wheel. The other thing that concerns me is his number outside of his TD’s. 52 rec for 615 yards. He averages 4 receptions for 47 yards a game. If he plays an entire season at that clip in PPR formats he would barely break the top 15. Now I am not suggesting he goes from 13 to 0 TDs but what if he only gets 8, which is a very reasonable drop-off. Assuming he plays all 16, which is a big assumption, you are looking at a slash line of 64/750/8 and those numbers in PPR formats barely cracks the top 10. Bottom line, given his injury history and a likely TD regression it is hard to imagine Eifert repeating his success from last year. There is still plenty of value in Eifert but I think too many people are going to overpay for his services. If I got him in the 9th or 10th round as my TE1 it is worth the risk, but if someone reaches for him before the 8th round they are running a big risk, a risk too big for my liking. There are plenty of tight ends that you can get later with the same overall output.

Grade:  C +

Defensive Fantasy Outlook

Sticking with the balanced theme here the Bengals defense is also very balanced, which is something we have all come expect out of a Marvin Lewis lead team. As a team, the Bengals were +11 in the turn over battle thanks to 21 interceptions. They were also among the best in QB pressure with 42 sacks. If I had to find something negative to say about the defense it would be that they only produced 1 TD. My biggest concern with the defense is the loss of Reggie Nelson.  He led the team with 8 interceptions last year and that is tough to replace. They did, however, add Karlos Dansby to their linebacker corps that was already one of the better in the NFL. The Bengals are not one of the more exciting defensive teams in the league, but they play as a team and it works well for them. I don’t expect anything out of character from their defense this year and have them in the 8 to 12 range. If they could get more out of special teams or more defensive TD’s they could move that number up a few spots.

Grade: B

Article originally posted on Going For 2 on July 7th, 2016.

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