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The Bengals made the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons but once again they could not make it past the first round. While obviously frustrating, Bengal fans can at least hang their hats on the fact that they still have Skyline Chili and Andy Dalton, fresh off his best season as a pro, but did not play in their playoff loss this time around. This Bengals team is a little different looking heading into this season (no more Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu) but they do still have some solid fantasy pieces on the roster.
Last year Andy Dalton took a major step forward in his maturation as an NFL quarterback amassing 3,250 yards and 25 TD’s before a hand injury ended his season after 13 games. The key to Dalton repeating his success this season hinges on his ability to adapt to new receiving options. With Jones now in Detroit and Sanu in Atlanta, Dalton is down to A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, Brandon Tate, new comer Brandon LaFell and rookie Tyler Boyd. Expect Dalton to regress a little bit in the early going as he adjusts to these new pieces but do not be surprised if he improves as the season goes and comes close to QB1 numbers down the stretch.
As mentioned the Bengals receivers are made up of Green, who is a potential first-round fantasy choice and early second-round pick at the latest, and a bunch of average players. By now we know what you will get out of LeFell, he is in no way a go to option and not worth owning in fantasy leagues. Tate is an unproven player who is somehow in his eighth season in the league (seriously who knew he’d been around that long) but is projected to be a third receiver for the Bengals so we will find out pretty quickly if he worth claiming off waivers pretty early. Which brings us to Boyd. Boyd is a rookie out of Pittsburgh who is having a great camp by all reports and is in position to potentially start across from Green. Boyd is worth keeping an eye on if he ends up winning the starting job as he holds the more potential than LaFell and Tate.
Hands up if you remember who led NFL tight ends in touchdowns last season. Well since this is a Bengals preview, you should guess Tyler Eifert. The Notre Dame product put up 13 touchdowns and 615 yards in 13 games. Eifert is one of the top tight end options for fantasy even though he is not expected to play in the early part of the season while recovering from an ankle injury. Eifert will dominate red zone targets along with Green and with the Bengals being so thin at receiver could see more catches between the 20’s as well. He will be a TE1 when he does return to the lineup.
Running back is the Bengals most balanced position as both Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill hold value in fantasy leagues. Hill may have deceived owners into picking him earlier than they should have last year but he is a powerful runner who will be the primary goal line back for the Bengals. Bernard on the other hand will be the more elusive, pass catching back (PPR players) who will be used to provide a bolt of energy should Cincy look to pick up the pace. Both backs should be drafted as they will split carries with Hill having the advantage because of his goal line power. Look to pick them in the mid to late rounds.
The Bengals D/ST may have its share of questionable characters but they are primed to be one of the top units in the NFL again and worth a pick if you cannot get the Broncos, Vikings or Cardinals D/ST.
QB Andy Dalton; WR A.J. Green; WR Tyler Boyd; RB Jeremy Hill; RB Giovani Bernard; TE Tyler Eifert; Bengals D/ST