Bengals 2018 cincinnati bengals Fantasy Preview

Much like the past few years in Cincinnati, wideout A.J. Green was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise unremarkable situation. Green had a down year, finishing with a career-low for receptions per game (4.7), yards per game (67.4) and catch percentage (52.4 percent). He still finished as the WR10, a must-start each week, but it was disappointing by his standards. Green’s quarterback had a decent year as well. Andy Dalton threw 25 touchdowns to 12 interceptions, but only averaged 207.5 passing yards per game, which limited his fantasy upside (finished as the QB17). The only other Bengals receiver with over 250 receiving yards was Brandon LaFell (WR58). Former high draft picks Tyler Boyd (2016 second round) and John Ross (2017 first round) were both woeful. Boyd had just 22 catches for 225 yards while Ross struggled to see the field due to various injuries and after fumbling on his first and only touch of the season. At tight end, the Bengals felt like wasted potential. In the two years after a 13-touchdown season, Tyler Eifert has played just 10 games (two in 2017) and caught 33 passes (four in 2017). If Eifert could’ve stayed healthy, he would’ve formed a deadly one-two punch alongside Tyler Kroft, who had a career-high 42 receptions and 404 yards for seven touchdowns in 2017. At the running back spot, the Bengals utilized a two-back system in 2017 (as they had in years prior). Cincinnati drafted Joe Mixon in the second round to compete with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, but Mixon ended up with more total rushes (178) than Hill and Bernard combined (142). Hill was expected to get most of the carries early in the year, but Mixon led the team in carries from Week 1 and Hill had season-ending ankle surgery after Week 8. Mixon had 913 all-purpose yards to Bernard’s 847 with Bernard serving more as the pass-catching back.

18

A.J.
Green

WR - Bengals

FACT: The Bengals offense ranked just 26th in the league last season, but Green was still Andy Dalton’s safety blanket, catching six of his team-leading eight touchdowns on third down.
Offseason Moves

It was a relatively quiet offseason in Cincinnati, as the Bengals added no fantasy-relevant players and allowed Jeremy Hill and backup quarterback A.J. McCarron to walk in free agency. The loss of Hill isn’t particularly significant, though, as he only had 37 carries in seven games last season. Those carries, and likely some of Bernard’s 105, will go to second-year back Joe Mixon, who flashed potential as a rookie. The Bengals will hope for internal improvement from both Mixon and the young receiving corps. The aforementioned Tyler Boyd and John Ross will compete for the No. 2 spot behind A.J. Green. Ross is already receiving praise from his Green and LaFell about his offseason work, but fantasy managers should wait to see it in live regular season action. The Bengals will once again hope for a healthy season from Tyler Eifert. He only played two games last season and re-signed on a one-year “prove it” deal, so he has no incentive to coast through the year.

Sleepers & Busts

Part of the Bengals’ problem in 2017 was their lack of commitment to Joe Mixon. Rookie running backs headlined the 2017 fantasy season, but Mixon was left in the rearview as the RB32. Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey were all fed the ball early and often, and their teams were rewarded with top 15 fantasy running back seasons. In the Bengals’ Week 1 loss to Baltimore, Mixon, Bernard and Hill got eight, seven and six carries, respectively. What’s the point of that? No guy is able to get going and it doesn’t set a tone for the year. Mixon’s carries increased as the season progressed, but if he was given the keys from the start his season would’ve been far more productive. Mixon heads into 2018 as the clear No. 1 back and a solid RB2 fantasy option, and his numbers will spike as a result.

Injuries, injuries, injuries. The most important part of football isn’t strength or speed or intelligence, it’s health. Tyler Eifert knows this all too well. Eifert has played less than 10 games three times in his five-year career, but he is still drafted high each year because of the breakout he had in 2015 (52 receptions, 615 yards and 13 touchdowns). While the touchdown numbers are great, the receptions and yardage are nothing special. Even if Eifert is healthy in 2018, the Bengals have a legit second tight end option in Tyler Kroft to steal red zone targets. No matter how tempting it may be to steal Eifert, do not fall for the yearly tease.

Fantasy Depth Chart
POSFIRSTSECONDTHIRDOTHER
QB Andy Dalton Matt Barkley
RB Joe Mixon Giovani Bernard Mark Walton
WR A.J. Green John Ross Tyler Boyd
TE Tyler Eifert Tyler Kroft
K Randy Bullock