The Bengals' receivers will look to bounce back in 2015 after a subpar showing in 2014.
Injuries were the primary culprit to Cincinnati's struggles though. At different points of the season, James Wright, Brandon Tate, Greg Little and even running back Rex Burkhead were getting significant runs at WR. That will change in 2015 with arguably the deepest group of WRs Cincinnati has had in the Marvin Lewis era.
Here's a look at the Bengals' 2015 wide receivers from a fantasy football perspective.
It all starts with A.J. Green
There's no debating who the No. 1 guy is by a mile in Cincinnati. A.J. Green has become one of the game's best receivers in his first four years in the league. Despite missing three games and nearly all of two more, Green still recorded his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season in 2014, finishing the year with 69 receptions for 1,041 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Green is also the only player to rank among the NFL’s top four in both catches and receiving yards for a player’s first four seasons. He has 329 catches, ranked third, and his 4,874 yards rank fourth in the league. He's also done it while racking up yards after the catch and embarrassing defenders out of their cleats.
Who's No. 2?
When healthy, Marvin Jones is as good of a No. 2 receiver as you'll find. Injuries are the problem though. Jones has missed 21 games in his first three years due to injury, including all of last year with foot and ankle injuries. He did play in all 16 games in 2013 while catching 10 touchdowns on 51 catches (712 yards).
While the touchdowns are nice, that's still a small number of catches and yards to warrant having Jones among your starting three WR in a FF league (2 WR slots and a Flex slot), especially given his injured past.
That said, Jones is a still a great WR to build your bench with and get an occasional start against a favorable opponent. He's shown he can break out against anyone and make some amazing catches like this one:
Though Jones will be the other starting boundary receiver across from Green, Mohamed Sanu might be the second-best pass-catcher while lining up primarily in the slot. At least, the Bengals hope to use Sanu more in the slot after using him on the boundary last year with Jones out all year and no other WR stepping up. He still managed to haul in a career-high 56 catches for 790 yards and five scores.
Back in 2013 with Jones in the lineup, Sanu caught 48.9 percent of his passes when lined up in the slot. It's where he's best suited, as that's the WR spot where he's more likely to get a free release off the line of scrimmage. Sanu still struggles to beat press coverage and often gets rerouted by physical corners.
Still, Sanu isn't anyone you're going to draft in a standard scoring league unless you want to take a flyer on him with your final selection.
After those three, Denarius Moore is the only other receiver to even keep an eye on. Moore had 136 catches for 1,872 yards and 16 scores over the first 36 games of his career with the Raiders. Those stats are more impressive than both Sanu’s and Jones’. However, he has just 26 catches for 297 yards and one score over his past 15 games in addition to being inactive for the final six games of 2014.
If he plays like he did his first 2.5 years in Oakland, don't be surprised if Moore ends up being the No. 2 WR in Cincinnati's offense this year. If he plays like he did the last 1.5 years, Moore won't even make the final 53-man roster. The latter is why Moore won't be drafted in any FF leagues, but the former is why you should monitor him in the preseason and early in the regular season.
According to FFToday, the Bengals will face the No. 1 (Seahawks), No. 3 (Broncos), No. 6 (Raiders), No. 9 (Chiefs) and No. 10 (Bills) defenses in terms of FF points allowed by opposing WRs. That's five matchups with top-10 defenses, but 11 matchups against defenses ranked 14th or worse vs. WRs, including six against teams ranked 23rd or worse.
Green is the only sure-fired draftee of this bunch, and he's a great pickup in Round 2. It wouldn't be much of a reach to take him at the end of Round 1 either, but try and get him in Round 2 for better value. As for the rest, Jones is a solid pick in Round 10 or later. He's a good guy to have as the second WR on your bench, and he could end up being someone you start regularly if he reclaims his 2013 form. As for Sanu, he's not someone to consider unless it's to grab one more WR with your final pick. He's just not someone you can rely on with Green and Jones occupying most of the targets when both are healthy.