2018 saw the Cincinnati Bengals bring an end to the Marvin Lewis era after 16 years. The Bengals lost AJ Green (5), Tyler Boyd (2), Andy Dalton (5), Tyler Eifert (12), Tyler Kroft (11), Joe Mixon (2) and Gio Bernard (4). Also, there were 10 games lost to injury on the starting offensive line. Dalton, Green, and Boyd will be healthy to start the season. The addition of rookie Jonah Williams and the return of Cordy Glenn and Billy Price should bode well for the offensive production. This will be a big year for AJ Green as he will be playing for a contract. New coach Zac Taylor is from the Sean McVay coaching tree and is expected to bring some excitement and explosiveness to the offense. Time will tell on that point.
Joe Mixon had a breakout year finishing as RB10 in PPR and RB9 in standard despite missing 2 games. If Zac Taylor uses Mixon like McVay used Gurley before the knee issues Mixon should be primed for a move into the top six. In 2018 AJ Green missed at least six games for the second time in three years and at 30 years old presents some risk. Green did finish tied for WR16 on a points per game basis and is clearly a very productive player. Taking Green in the third round is a good value. Tyler Boyd had a breakout in his third year putting up 76/1038/7 in 2018. Playing across from AJ Green was very beneficial to Boyd. After Green went down in week nine Boyd stayed steady but did not step up his production which might be a sign of his ceiling as a fantasy asset.
The tight end position is one I’m avoiding in Cincinnati unless it is really late or really cheap, like throw in on a trade cheap. Tyler Eifert has played in just 43/96 games in his six-year career. While it is nice to remember 2015 and the 52 receptions and 13 touchdowns in 13 games, that production is a thing of the past. Last years annual Eifert replacement CJ Uzomah is a capable NFL replacement but does not offer much fantasy production. Uzomah is a bye week fill in at best that you hope gets a lucky touchdown. I am generally avoiding the Bengals tight end situation. Giovanni Bernard’s time as a Bengal seems to be coming to an end. A free agent after 2019, the passing game specialist is set to be replaced by rookies Trayveon Williams and Rodney Anderson after or maybe even during this season. Bernard is a solid receiving back with a little juice in the running game as long as he doesn’t get overworked. The Bengals will move onto the cheaper options next season at the latest. If you have the roster space, grabbing Gio and waiting to see if he lands somewhere that he can be a third-down specialist is a workable strategy. Will John Ross have a third-year breakout? I’m not counting on it. After putting up 21 catches in 13 games in 2018 Ross should improve on those numbers but will be in a group of depth wide receivers, third down backs and tight ends vying for targets behind Green, Boyd, and Mixon; In other words, not many.
Defensive end Sam Hubbard played in just under 50% on the defensive snaps but flashed some big play ability with six sacks, seven tackles for loss and nine quarterback hits to go with one fumble recovery. With an increase in snaps Hubbard is primed for double digit sacks in 2019. Fellow rookie Jessie Bates burst on the scene with 111 total tackles, three interceptions and seven passes defensed. Teamed with veteran Shawn Williams, Bates should take a step in his second year and be a solid IDP safety.
Finding the right stashes for your dynasty team helps to sustain your dynasty team. The Bengals have some young players on offense worthy of your taxi squad. After cutting Mark Walton in the offseason and with Gio Bernard nearing the end of his contract the Bengals invested two 6th round picks in Trayveon Williams and Rodney Anderson. Williams was a stud at Texas A & M putting up over 3600 yards with 34 touchdowns and 66 receptions in just three years. Williams rookie season looks like he will back up Bernard and given his talent, Williams may push for stand-alone playing time but not likely enough to be fantasy relevant in 2019 but should be stashed with an eye toward 2020. Rodney Anderson is a different story. In 2017 Anderson looked as if he may the RB1 after posting a stat line of 188/1161/13 after only having 12 carries in the first four games. Anderson closed out the 2017 season rushing for 201 yards in a season-ending loss to Georgia. But just two games into Anderson’s 2018 season he suffered a torn ACL. The was the third season-ending injury for Anderson. Matthew Betz detailed Anderson’s injury history here. The injury history is concerning but the talent is there. Anderson will likely be down the depth chart in 2019 which will allow more time to recover from the ACL injury. Once healthy Anderson will be behind Joe Mixon but if for some reason Mixon falters or gets injured or Cincinnati for some inexplicable reason decides not to resign him to a new contract Anderson will be the next man up. The last rookie I’d like to touch on is tight end Drew Sample. One of the surprises of the draft in the second round, Sample comes into the league with only 46 receptions in four seasons. An excellent blocker which will help get him on the field, and you can’t catch passes if you are not on the field. Jon Diment does a great job discussing Sample’s potential in this article.
With some high-end skill players, there are fantasy points to be had in Cincinnati. The ability of Mixon, Green, and Boyd elevate the mediocre Andy Dalton to a Superflex worthy quarterback. There is hope the new coaching staff will boost the offense which finished 17th overall in 2018 according to pro-football-reference.com. Don’t be afraid to get the studs in Cincinnati, but I’d look to move the players that have been there for a year or two and haven’t broken out yet, I’d bet the new coaching staff will start to bring in more of their own players over the next 12 months.Follow @culture_coach
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