2017 Fantasy Football Preview: Cincinnati Bengals

Michael Kelley

I have been playing fantasy football since 1991. My first draft I had the first pick and the first player I ever drafted was Randall Cunningham. I remember that because he broke his leg in the first series of the season. Since then I have been hooked on fantasy football and I have not and will not ever draft a QB in the first round again.

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2016 Fantasy Recap

2016 was a down year for the Bengals. Their best offensive weapon A.J. Green missed seven games. Their most explosive running back Giovani Bernard missed six games and their top tight end Tyler Eifert missed eight games. Those three players only played three games together. It is hard to have a winning season when you cannot get your top players all on the field at the same time. The end result was a 6-9-1 finish. Despite the injuries the Bengals still managed to move the ball well enough to keep the healthy players fantasy relevant. It kind of reminded me of the 2014 season where the Bengals were rocked with injuries. So lets hope 2017 is like 2015 when everyone was mostly healthy, because that was a good year in fantasy for Bengals players.

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Key Additions and Losses

Additions:

  • Kevin Minter
  • Joe Mixon (draft)
  • John Ross (draft)

Losses:

  • Kevin Zeitler
  • Andrew Whitworth
  • Karlos Dansby
  • Rex Burkhead
  • Domata Peko

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Quarterback Fantasy Outlook

Despite having his top guys for only three games Andy Dalton still managed to finish as a low QB1 or high QB2 depending on your scoring system. For some reason Dalton seems to always be judged by the Bengals playoff performances. Which is fine when talking about an NFL career for a player, but fantasy football is different we want points and Dalton scores plenty of them. When his team is healthy he produces a ton a points. In 2015 when he had all of his weapons his average in points per game put him in the top five quarterbacks. This year I expect to be more like 2015 than 2016 and Dalton could easily make it back into the top 10 scoring quarterbacks. plus with all of his weapons expected to play most of the year and with the addition of some new weapons via the draft the top 10 should easily be within reach. I would not be surprised if Dalton throws for 4,600 yards and 32 touchdowns.

Grade: B+

Running Back Fantasy Outlook

In the second round of this years draft the Bengals selected Joe Mixon out of Oklahoma. Some say he might have been the number one back taken if not for some character issues. Many people are already banking on Mixon replacing Jermey Hill as the starting running back. I am not one of those people. I think Mixon will eventually take the job, but to start the year I think Hill is the main back with Mixon playing in Giovani Bernard’s role until he gets back. Once Gio is back to full speed that is when things get a little hairy. Overall I think Hill gets all the goal line and short yardage work, with Gio getting all the third down work when he is healthy. Leaving Mixon to fill in a lot of the middle. Thus making all running backs pretty frustrating to own as the season progresses. I can see Hill ending the year with 170/700/8, Mixon 150/700/4 with around 20 receptions for 200 yards, and Gio going for 70/280/1 but catching around 40 passes for 350 yards as well. Note: If something happens to Hill like a trade or major injury before the season or early in the season Mixon immediately becomes a high RB2 as possibly the workhorse for the team.

Grade: B

Wide Receiver Fantasy Outlook

Despite missing seven games last year AJ Green still lead the team in receptions and yards with 66/964/4, which means he was on pace for 117/1713/7. Those numbers would have easily made him the top fantasy wide receiver last year. Would he have gotten those numbers if he played all year? I doubt it, but he would have been very close and would have easily finished in the top three at wide receiver. So what to expect this year? He will be Dalton’s favorite target again but I am not sure as much as last years pace. He should still haul in a slash line of 85/1275/8 putting him right back around the top five wide receivers. After AJ things get a little cloudy. We have second year man Tyler Boyd who when had the opportunity to shine barely glimmered, Brandon LaFell who has never been great but has managed to be solid, and lighting fast rookie John Ross, who was the Bengals first round pick this year. I think Boyd and LaFell will battle out for the WR2 spot and Ross is locked in as the slot receiver. If Boyd or LaFell fail to excel over the other it will limit their production to right around 50 receptions for each and 600 yards each and maybe five touchdowns between them. My money is on Boyd though to end up more productive than LaFell As far as Ross goes, Dalton actually throws one of the better deep balls, so I think he catches around 40 balls for 700 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Grade: A-

Tight End Fantasy Outlook

Tyler Eifert is one of the more frustrating fantasy football tight ends in the league. He has played 22 games in the last three years. In the 22 games he has a line of 84/1046/18. His receptions and yardage is not all that great but his touchdown rate is incredible. I try not to let injury history be a factor in player values, but it is hard to ignore Eifert’s 22 games played out of the last 48 possible. So assuming he plays most of the season I think we can see around 50 receptions for 600 yards and 10 touchdowns. If he can stay healthy long enough to give us those numbers that should be enough to land him comfortably in the top 10 of tight ends.

Grade: B+

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Defensive Fantasy Outlook

The Bengals have traditionally been a pretty good defense, but bonehead penalties and a lack of turnovers seem to hurt every week. Head coach Marvin Lewis always seems to find a way to get the most out of his defense, but I just don’t see them producing enough points to justify drafting them. I think enough of them that they would be a top streaming choice many weeks, but with two against the Steelers, and non division games that include the Packers, Lions, and Colts I am not so sure I could use them every week.

Grade: C+

Michael Kelley is a member of the Going For 2 team. You can check out his website Dynasty League Problems for more writings or find him on Twitter @mikekelleydlp spreading fantasy knowledge for the masses.


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I have been playing fantasy football since 1991. My first draft I had the first pick and the first player I ever drafted was Randall Cunningham. I remember that because he broke his leg in the first series of the season. Since then I have been hooked on fantasy football and I have not and will not ever draft a QB in the first round again.

Michael Kelley

I have been playing fantasy football since 1991. My first draft I had the first pick and the first player I ever drafted was Randall Cunningham. I remember that because he broke his leg in the first series of the season. Since then I have been hooked on fantasy football and I have not and will not ever draft a QB in the first round again.

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