QB Andy Dalton (Cincinnati)
In those 12 games against future playoff teams, Dalton was 250 of 445 (56.2%) for 2934 yards (6.6 YPA), 12 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. In the other 22 games, he’s 420 of 679 (61.9%) for 4518 yards (6.7 YPA), 35 touchdowns, and 20 interceptions. This is a concern considering the Bengals have to face 7 teams who made the playoffs in 2012, along with Pittsburgh (twice), Chicago, and what should be an improved Detroit team. I don’t expect him to match his 2012 numbers.
Projection: 3650 passing yards 25 passing touchdowns 17 interceptions 130 rushing yards 2 touchdowns (237 pts standard, 287 pts 6 pt TD leagues)
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (Cincinnati)
8/29/13: BJGE is really only worth a late round pick at this point. He’s not an inefficient per carry runner and he doesn’t provide anything in the air. If he starts losing carries and goal line carries to Bernard, he’ll be useless in fantasy, except as a Bernard handcuff.
There is absolutely nothing flashy about Green-Ellis’ game. On 788 career carries, he has just 3 rushes for longer than 34 yards, but also just 3 fumbles. He also doesn’t contribute anything in the passing game with just 48 career catches. He’s good in short yardage, but he doesn’t do much other than run through holes that are blocked. He averaged just 2.1 yards per carry after contact last season after doing the same in 2011, both among the worst in the league, and he also was under 4 yards per carry for the 2nd straight season. Bernard is the more talented back and even as a rookie will take carries away.
Projection: 150 carries for 590 rushing yards 5 total touchdowns 12 catches for 70 yards (96 pts, 108 pts PPR)
RB Giovani Bernard (Cincinnati)
8/29/13: Giovani Bernard had a strong pre-season, especially around the goal line. He’s the more talented of Cincinnati’s two running backs and, while he may start the season splitting carries with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, he might not stay in that role all season. Few flex plays have more upside.
Bernard is not a full package back at just 5-8 202, but we’ve seen plenty of backs go in the 2nd round or later with similar billings and go to be to very good running backs, including Ray Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew. It’s unclear how much he can contribute as a rookie, however, as neither of those backs were every down guys until after their 1st season, once they had more time in an NFL weight room. He’ll probably split carries with BJGE, but he’s the more explosive player and more of a factor in the passing game.
Projection: 190 carries for 840 rushing yards 6 total touchdowns 40 catches for 320 yards (152 pts, 199 pts PPR)
WR AJ Green (Cincinnati)
AJ Green has blossomed into one of probably the top-3 wide receivers in the league before even entering the magical wide receiver 3rd year breakout year. He’s one of the top fantasy receivers (and real life receivers) in the game and I don’t see any reason why this year should be any different for him.
Projection: 100 catches for 1400 receiving yards 10 touchdowns (200 pts, 300 pts PPR)
WR Mohamed Sanu (Cincinnati)
Mohamed Sanu had a very nondescript rookie year, catching 16 passes for 154 yards and 4 touchdowns as a 3rd round rookie out of Rutgers. However, I love his fit in Cincinnati, with Andy Dalton having a weaker arm than most franchise quarterbacks, with Jay Gruden leading a West Coast Offense as offensive coordinator, and especially with AJ Green opposite him. Before the draft, I gave Sanu a 2nd round grade and compared him to former Bengal receiver TJ Houshmanzadeh, saying that the perfect fit for him would be for him to play opposite a deep threat like Houshmanzadeh did with Chad Johnson/Ochocinco and just eat up all the underneath targets. Little did I know that Sanu would be drafted by the Bengals, who were in need of a possession receiver like him to play opposite deep threat AJ Green. There’s some upside here late.
Projection: 50 catches for 600 yards 5 touchdowns (90 pts, 140 pts PPR)
TE Jermaine Gresham (Cincinnati)
Gresham has made 2 Pro Bowls in his career, but he’s an underrated player who drops a lot of passes (10 last year, including 2 in their playoff loss), commits a lot of penalties (9), and doesn’t run block well. The Bengals brought in Tyler Eifert for that reason and will run more two-tight end sets, which will cut into Gresham’s targets. Look elsewhere.
Projection: 53 catches for 650 receiving yards 5 touchdowns (95 pts, 148 pts PPR)