The 2019 season was a rough one for the Cincinnati Bengals. With the worst record in the NFL at 2-14, the Bengals looked like they were in the tank for the first pick. Their only 2 wins came at home to the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets. Although the season was a tough one, there were many hopeful performances throughout the year from a number of players. Joe Mixon, had a great year on the ground with 1,137 yards and a solid Y/A of 4.1. Even though he only saw the end zone 5 times on the ground, he finished the year with no fumbles.
The receiving core was easily one of the weakest in the NFL last year with AJ Green not seeing one snap the whole year due to injury. The receiver with the most touchdowns at the end of the year was Tyler Boyd with 5. Boyd did add 1,046 yards last year which drew much attention to his name. Young receivers like Auden Tate and John Ross both were able to get 575 and 506 yards respectively in 2019. Andy Dalton did start at QB for 13 games and did not look impressive at the slightest. Dalton finished with 3,494 yards, 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. The Bengals released him and he is now on his way to be the backup for the Dallas Cowboys. The most notable IDP performances were from both safeties, Shawn Williams and Jessie Bates who each topped 100+ tackles during the year.
Rookie head coach, Zac Taylor, could not bring full control over the team but is still viewed as a coach with tons of potential at just 36 years old.
In free agency, the Bengals added D.T. D.J. Reader, C.B.’s Mackenzie Alexander and Trae Waynes, LB Josh Bynes, and S Vonn Bell. On draft night, with the first overall pick, the Bengals took QB Joe Burrow from LSU. In the second round, they added W.R. Tee Higgins from Clemson, and in the third, they added LB Logan Wilson from Wyoming. The Bengals were able to find a few solid pieces for their team, including the most recent Heisman winner, of course.
I predict that in regular dynasty leagues, Burrow will be just outside the top 10 QB’s, looking more like a QB12. He did not throw many interceptions in college, and his pocket movement was good enough, but his first year in the NFL could bring a couple of moments of unease to him as we see it does to many rookie QB’s. Ultimately, Burrow is a great option for the future, even if his first couple of years are shaky. With the Bengals continuing to improve, Burrow can easily become a dominant dynasty QB.
Entering his fourth season, Joe Mixon looks to be the most stable part of the Bengal offense. After two straight years of 1,100+ yards, Mixon looks to make another big step and possibly get into the 1,300-1,400 yard range. Fantasysharks.com projects him to finish 2020 with 1,327 yards and 8 touchdowns, which would make him one of the best fantasy backs. As for startup drafts, Mixon looks to rank as the RB7 and possibly even as high as the RB5 spot.
Mixon’s receiving numbers are not too impressive, but he can crack 300 yards with a couple of touchdowns to add in 2020. This assumes that Zac Taylor will further his usage of Mixon as an all-down back to help out the rookie QB. Possible handcuffs for Joe Mixon are the aging Giovani Bernard, and second-year back Trayveon Williams, who did not see the Bengals field in 2019.
As mentioned before, the Bengals receiving core has seemed weak in the past few years but there is tons of potential. It is important to remember that having a rookie QB, even a heisman winner, can slow down the process of some young receivers in the first year.
The 31-year-old WR was once seen as one of the biggest threats in the NFL. But after nonstop injuries, the past few years, Green’s stock fell hard. After missing the 2019 season, many are hopeful for Green, but I see it being a total bust year. Green was just placed on the franchise tag as a new contract from the Bengals does not look like a sure deal. This being said, Zac Taylor may be cautious over his usage with Green. With many young receivers who could breakout, Green is not one who should be highly rated in the dynasty world.
Drafted in 2016, Boyd, at age 25, looks to confirm his spot as the teams #1 wide receiver. With Green’s injury-filled past two seasons, Boyd has eclipsed 1,000+ yards in both years and added a total of 12 touchdowns. With an outstanding 90 catches last year, Boyd looks to become a high volume threat for Burrow. This could be the big boom year for Boyd as he is currently ranked around a WR30 spot for dynasty leagues but could easily break the WR20 spot in the next couple of years.
Tate slowly cemented his role last year with 575 yards and one touchdown after being a 7th round pick in 2018, Tate is another possible breakout prospect for the future to take over some of A.J. Green’s heavy workload. With a very low ADP of WR93, Tate has the potential to be a WR3, especially if coach Zac Taylor continues to give him a workload as he did in 2019.
The first pick in the second round of the 2020 draft, Higgins looks to build a connection with a fellow rookie Joe Burrow. The 6′ 4″ wideout from Clemson was a star in his final year at the school where he caught 59 passes for 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns. Some expect Higgins to possibly start week one and push for a lead role for the Bengals during his rookie year. I would not bet on that, but Higgins is rated highly as his ADP is WR39 in dynasty leagues. He may not get off hot with his rookie QB, but he certainly has potential during his rookie year.
After being a top draft pick in 2017, Ross has yet to show that he can be a star in the league. The Bengals recently did not pick up his 5th-year option, which is a big sign in the direction they are going. Ross is still a talented asset, but he brings little value when compared to the other boom or bust options on the team for dynasty purposes.
As the Bengals continue to look deep into their tight end options for their rookie QB, the position does not look like it will bring much hope. Currently, Drew Sample and C. J. Uzomah look to battle for the TE1 spot on the team. Sample was drafted in 2019 and seems to have the possible edge because of his potential. The Bengals do expect to see a jump from Sample in his second year, and he could be a nice stash on the bench, but it will likely be years before Sample could be worthy of a spot in the starting lineup for anyone’s team.
Not known as the flashiest safety in the league, Williams has done well for IDP purposes since being drafted in 2013. In the past two seasons, he has surpassed 110+ tackles each year and even had 10 pass deflections in 2018. Although the 29-year-old may not be the move for the future, Williams will surely give you solid IDP numbers for at least two more years.
Jessie Bates, another safety who can put up big IDP numbers, heads into his 3rd season with the Bengals. He was able to put up 100+ tackles and 3 interceptions in each of his first two seasons in the league. With both Bates and Williams, plus the recent CB acquisitions, the Bengals secondary looks solid. Bates is just 23 years old and is a great safety for your dynasty team.
Drafted in 2018, the 24-year-old DE had himself a great season in 2019. With an aging Carlos Dunlap, Hubbard looks to be the next main piece on the front line. I project him to break the 70+ tackle range and get around 8-9 sacks as he did in 2018. Hubbard is a solid young asset for IDP leagues, with not many knowing his potential.
During his rookie year, Pratt quickly showed his value to the Bengals as he racked up 76 tackles and added 4 tackles for loss. He looks to build on these numbers, and he likely will. At just 23 years of age, Pratt adds another young player to the Bengal defense who has the potential to be a solid IDP starter.
Many say that after finishing with a 2-14 record in 2019, the Bengals can only go up. This statement is relatively true because they have tons of young assets that will only develop in the upcoming years. The offense may still struggle at times in 2020, but Joe Burrow is their guy for the future. An improving receiving core matched with one of the best running backs in the league can set a team up for success. On the defensive side, they have talent, especially in the secondary, but now it looks like it is the coaches job to bring it all together. If Zac Taylor can do that, this Bengal team could surprise some people in the upcoming years.
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