Cincinnati Bengals - 2014 Preason #FF Preview
“Leave the gun, take the cannoli”. If you cannot place these famous words, you need to turn in your man card, sorry, but your representation of the gender is not making the cut. For the rest of us, we know this line from The Godfather shows a callousness, a certain necessary ambivalence. The murder of Paulie is done, finished, in the past. What’s important for Clemenza is the future, the cannoli he needs to bring home. Same thing with the Bengals, leave the quarterback, take the running backs.
The glory found by the Red Rifle, Dalton finished 5th amongst fantasy quarterbacks last year, is finished. A large part of his success came from Jay Gruden’s QB friendly system. Well, Gruden has moved on to Washington, and Hue Jackson, the Bengals former running backs coach, moves in to fill his shoes. The Bengals will most likely be moving to a run first approach. The Bengals have a tough schedule against the pass, coming in at number 25. As of mid July, Pyro is ranking him in th low 20’s for QBs. Even the douche canoe sites rank him in the high teens. On the whole, Dalton’s 2013 numbers look good. He passed for 4,293 yards, 33 TDs, and 20 INTs. The bottom line is with Jackson’s run heavy system, the opportunities to throw the ball are not going to be there. Dalton will be expected to “not lose games”. Mainly, they want him to hand the ball off. And why shouldn’t he?
Going back to my metaphor, Giovanni Bernard is not only the man in Cincinnati, he is the cannoli. As of mid July, he is in Pyro’s top 10 RBs for 2014. He averaged 4.1 yards per rush (4.6 on grass). He ran the ball 170 times and totaled 695 yards, and had 5 TDs. He is a great PPR guy, and if you are in a league that rewards for long TDs, Bernard is one to target, as the majority of his scores will come from outside the red zone. Bernard added 514 yards receiving, snagged 56 receptions on 71 targets, and crossed the end zone an additional 3 times. One of the more reliable catchers from the backfield, his catch rate is 78.9%. Not only is he sure handed, on average, he was targeted 7.24 yards down field. Out of backs that were targeted at least 20 times last year, only 4 other backs ran further down field for passes. Bernard was under used last year, something that should change this coming year. In their 6th game last year, he saw the most work, carrying it 15 times. There were 8 games last year were he only had 10 carries or less. Again, don’t let this scare you, his work load will undoubtedly increase in this his sophomore season. He also gets help from the schedule. Last year, the Bengals had the 25th easiest run schedule. This year they are tied for 14th. This not only helps Gio, but with their second pick in this year’s draft, the Bengals selected LSU running back, Jeremy Hill.
The thunder to Gio’s Cannoli… Alright, so maybe I am mixing my metaphors a bit much, but regardless, Jeremy Hill is a powerful back that will add a new dimension to the Bengals backfield. Hill ran the ball 213 times for LSU last season. Incredibly, he averaged 7.03 yards per carry against stout SEC defenses. He crossed the goal line in all but 2 games, he amassed 16 TDs in 12 games. He rushed for at least 100 yards 50% of the time. Only one time, did his per game rushing average fall below 4 yards a carry. He should make an immediate difference on the field. There have been several reports that state Hill will see a significant amount of carries this year, as well as pick up the goal line work. As of mid-July his ADP of the early 9th round (in a 12 team league) would be considered a steal if indeed he is getting close to 175 carries. While you will never win or lose your draft with one pick, it is guys like this, guys that are undervalued that can be drafted in rounds 7-10 that can bring home the hardware at the end of the season. I took Hill in my dynasty rookie draft and will look to target him as early as round 7 as long as he is one of maybe 2 rookies on my team. As far as BenJarvus Green_Ellis, once the Bengals drafted Hill, they pretty much closed the doors on the Law Firm. Green_Ellis was given the rock 32 times in the red zone last year. Barring injury, those carries should go straight to Hill. This bodes well for his owners. Last year, the Bengals were 1 of 2 teams whose red zone scoring was over 70%.
A.J. Green, while undoubtedly an amazing talent, is a potential bust candidate. Again, this is only due to his draft position. As of mid-July, Green is going at the end of the first round. He was just behind Garcon for most targets last year with 178. This will undoubtedly fall. With heavy emphasis placed on the running game, and Dalton becoming more of a game manager, Green will not have the production he did last year. Dawgmatica would not be surprised to see him fall out of the top 10 for scoring this year. Clearly, if you draft a guy in the first, or second round, that is precisely what you are betting will not happen, hence, the bust call. Dawg goes on to point out, it is really not that far of a fall out of the top ten. If Green scored just one less touch down last year, and lost 10 receiving yards a game, that would be enough to knock him out of top 10 contention. Looking at the writing on the coaches wall, that is likely to happen with Hue at the helm.
The other Bengals receivers in the mix are Marvin Jones, and Mohamed Sanu. Jones had something of a breakout season in 2013. He scored 10 TDs, and racked up 712 yards, snagging 51 of 80 targets. Jones was targeted 14 times in the red zone. He came in at number 20 for total scoring at the wide receiver position (137.7 fantasy points in 2013). Sanu should be assigned the slot role, along with Sanzenbacher, which will increase play opportunity for Jones. Last year, Jones was in on just 48% of the snaps. This year should see that increase a great deal. While his TD’s will most likely come back down to earth, his yardage should increase with a greater number of targets expected his way this year. Jones has solid hands. In fact, when comparing Jones and Sanu, Jones had a higher catch rate, even though his average target was further downfield. Jones caught 64.6% of his passes and his average target per pass was 9.01 yards down field. Whereas Sanu’s average target was only 5.91 yards downfield and only caught 61% of his passes. As of mid-July, Marvin Jones is going in the 10th round for 12 team leagues.
As far as the tight end position, the Bengals often run with two: Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham. Neither guy will be much of a factor with Hue Jackson implementing a run oriented offense. Gresham will miss some camp time due to hernia surgery. Eifert is expected to be healthy for training camp after an early injury in OTAs. While Gresham should begin the year as the starter, Eifert could very well eclipse him if his progression continues. Out of the two, Eifert is more of a red zone threat and Pyro has him rated higher. Eifert averaged 3.77 fantasy points per game in his rookie season. Once every coon’s age does a rookie tight end emerge to fantasy relevance, so he has nowhere to go but up. This just may not be the offense to really provide much of a spring board for him.
Defensively, the Bengals are a top 5 contender as of mid-July. In 2013, the Bengals defense ended the year ranked 5th for both opponents rushing yards and passing yards. The Bengals had 5 defensive scores last year, just 2 less than the Chiefs who had the most defensive touchdowns. With names like Atkins (keep your eyes on his recovery during camp), Hunt, and Burfict they are a force to be reckoned with. Not only that, they have arguably the best group of cornerbacks in the NFL. Last year, the Bengals had 20 interceptions, good enough for 5th best in the NFL. The Bengals were 10th in the sack department with 43. The Bengals continue to be a safe defensive pick.
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