These Bengals should be on your fantasy radar next season.
The Cincinnati Bengals have the potential to become one of the NFL’s best fantasy offenses in 2017. Their core four of Andy Dalton (QB), A.J. Green (WR), Tyler Eifert (TE) and Jeremy Hill (RB) have all finished in the top 10 at their position at least once in their respective careers according to Pro-Football-Reference.
This weekly series of columns will focus on one to two teams and their fantasy-relevant players heading into next season. Player rankings are broken up into three tiers: ‘Start ‘Em’, ‘Flex or Stream ‘Em’, and ‘Pick ‘Em Up’. Any free agents a team may have will be written about as if they are resigned. Notable Bengals free agents include wide receiver Brandon LaFell and running back Rex Burkhead.
A.J. Green, WR
Green has finished top 10 in his position in fantasy points three times in his career, (2012, 2013, 2015)— all three of which he has played in all 16 games. The bottom line is that Green is a fantasy stud and a surefire WR1 if he remains healthy for the full campaign. Green will have excellent value as a second-round pick next season.
Tyler Eifert, TE
In 2015, Eifert joined the ranks of elite tight ends as he corralled 13 touchdowns passes en route to finishing 6th overall at his position. Eifert started only 12 games that season, and has not started more than a dozen since his rookie season. He is a game-changing TE1 when he is on the field, making the risk of drafting him worth the reward.
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Jeremy Hill, RB
In Hill’s rookie season, he finished second in the league in yards per carry, but has not come close to that mark in his two years since. His consistency comes in the form of touchdowns, as he has scored 30 combined rushing and receiving touchdowns in his three year career. His touchdown dependency makes him an RB2 with a high floor.
Andy Dalton, QB
Other than his 2013 season where he finished 5th at his position, Dalton has failed to crack the top 10. He is a safe quarterback to go after if you are not chasing the Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady-led first tier. Expect low-end QB1, high-end QB2 production from Dalton, and hope that you can strike gold if he finds his 2013 form once again.
Giovani Bernard, RB
The pass-catching back out of the University of Carolina had his worst season in 2016, rushing for 343 yards less than his previous career low. Despite that, he was on pace to catch more passes than he ever had, but only played in 10 games due to injury. Bernard is no more than a flex play in standard leagues, but is an RB2 in any PPR format.
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Flex or Stream ‘Em
Brandon LaFell, WR
LaFell’s 2016 season was his second-best behind his 2014 campaign in New England. He solidified himself as the number two option behind Green, racking up 64 catches, 862 yards and 6 touchdowns. LaFell is a worthy WR3 start if Green is out, and an excellent option as a flex play when Green is healthy.
Tyler Boyd, WR
The rookie did not have a standout performance during the season as he only scored one touchdown. However, Boyd was a consistent contributor from Week 1 on, catching at least two passes in 14 of the team’s 16 games. If LaFell does not return to the team as a free agent, Boyd is poised to work his way up the depth chart and take his previous role and run with it.
Pick ‘Em Up
Rex Burkhead, RB
After Bernard’s injury in Week 11, Burkhead inserted himself into the running back rotation behind Hill in Week 12. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry, culminating in a Week 17 explosion where he ran for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns. Burkhead is a free agent, and while he may not return, he has earned more playing time if Bernard or Hill continue to become less effective.
Cody Core, WR
A spot in the wideout rotation opened up for the rookie when Green got hurt in Week 11. From Week 13 on, Core tallied 17 catches for 200 yards, 82 of which came in Week 17. Core’s value moving forward has a lot to do with whether LaFell returns to Cincinnati, but if he does not, Core becomes a late round flier in deep leagues.
There is a ton of promise with the Bengals in fantasy as they could feasibly have seven startable or flex-worthy players in Dalton, Green, LaFell, Boyd, Hill, Bernard and Eifert. A lot of that rides on the shoulders of Dalton, who will need another season similar to 2013 to have this offense firing on all cylinders.
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