(Editor's Note: This post was created from questions by readers sent in via Twitter, email, etc. Feel free to send yours in to @CJAnthonyCUI and/or @CincyJungle on Twitter, or to one of our email addresses.)
Every once in a while, we like to put up a post which spotlights some of the burning questions on our readers' minds. Bengals Nation is a well-informed group of fans that wants some insight on issues that will be bubbling to the surface when minicamp opens up this week. There were two particularly interesting questions this week that centered on the status of positions affected by free agency and the draft this year. Let's get to them.
@CJAnthonyCUI @CincyJungle J. Hills impact on Gio's Fantasy output? Is he worth a 4th round keeper.— Master of D'hara❌ (@Mizrac) May 20, 2014
Ah yes, fantasy football. The football fan's mistress in their allegiance to their favorite team. It is hard to say the effect with total certainty. By most indications, Giovani Bernard will have an increased role with more touches this year, as BenJarvus Green-Ellis appears to be fading into the background. Still, the addition of Hill makes it seem like the Bengals will balance their attack once again this year.
Still, Bernard had over 1,200 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns as the "backup" last season. While most knew that Green-Ellis was their short-yardage go-to guy, we did see some goal line runs by Bernard in which a couple were converted into scores, so I'm not completely sold on Hill getting all of those types of carries as well.
Personally speaking, I love hanging onto and/or selecting running backs who can consistently catch in fantasy football. A lot of leagues give substantial points for catching the ball and if you have a dual-threat guy on your roster, you could very well clean up. A recent report said that the Bengals' coaching staff is looking at giving Bernard more time in the slot as a receiver in 2014. Though there are a lot of guys that could be plugged into that spot (more on that in a minute), the team could look to use Bernard in the same ways that they did with Andrew Hawkins.
I'd proceed with caution if it's a keeper league and look to scoop him up in the middle rounds of a draft, but Bernard's receiving skills make him valuable. If he's your No.2 or a flex position, that's a solid get. For Hill, my personal rule of thumb is to shy away from rookies at certain skill positions in fantasy football, but that is a hit and miss theory. I think it needs to be seen how the Bengals use him in the preseason and how he looks to be adjusting to the pro game. He'll likely be around later than Bernard, so he could be a solid late rounder.
@CincyJungle @CJAnthonyCUI Q for tonight: With Jones #2 and Sanu in slot, who else steps in and has impact? Maybe your SD boy Lockett?— Geoff Fischer (@HiDadSoup) May 21, 2014
I asked this question to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, who joined us on this last week's episode of Inside The Jungle (download today!). Obviously, Mohamed Sanu has the inside track as the slot guy, but the Bengals will likely mix up their looks here. Tyler Eifert, Jermaine Gresham, Dane Sanzenbacher, Bernard and Sanu will all be seen lined up as slot guys. It's hard to see an undrafted guy like Colin Lockett out of San Diego State bypassing those guys.
Still, Sanu has had his ups and downs and there seems to be a lot of faith in Sanzenbacher, who is a guy that sported six catches last season. The Bengals need to find a remedy for the loss of Hawkins with another shifty, speedy guy and they can't have tunnel vision if they want to fill that hole adequately.
Lockett is an interesting player, especially given the Bengals' penchant of keeping undrafted guys on the final roster the past few seasons. He has decent size at 6'0", 185 pounds and has some added special teams value as a kick returner. In that aspect, Lockett had 31 returns for 761 yards (24.5 average) last year and had three combined returns for touchdowns in 2011 and 2012. He added 52 catches for 736 yards and five receiving touchdowns in 2013. In short, Lockett is versatile.
I don't see him making the final roster and beating out the other names though, unless there are injuries and/or Lockett lights up the preseason. There is also the slight chance that Lockett shows enough as a kick returner that they keep him in lieu of Brandon Tate. I'd like to see him get his shot in the preseason games to give him a fair shake, but we'll see. If you're asking me today, I think you give the aforementioned combo of players who have been on the final roster before another year and keep Lockett as a Practice Squad player if he shows enough promise. Then, maybe you reassess things in 2015 and see if he's worth putting on the final roster next year.