When it comes to fantasy football, there might not be a bigger boom-or-bust position on the Bengals’ roster than tight end.
With Jermaine Gresham now gone, someone will have the chance to step up and get a lot of targets from a quarterback in Andy Dalton who is more prone to short, quick throws, which could favor the TE. However, no one other than the lugging Gresham stepped up to do so in past years. Will 2015 be any different?
Here's a look at the Bengals' 2015 TEs from a fantasy football perspective.
Tyler Eifert... and everyone else
When the Bengals drafted Tyler Eifert with the 21st-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, he was viewed as a future star who would replicate the new breed of his position that could line up at both TE and WR and dominate games. Eifert showed flashes of this as a rookie, but playing behind Gresham, he caught just 39 passes for 445 yards and two scores.
There is a positive side to this since Gresham caught 46 passes for 458 yards and four scores that year. In theory, had Gresham not been a Bengal, Eifert would have had somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 catches for 750 yards and eight scores. That would have put him in the top 10 of TE scoring that year.
The problem is, that was under Jay Gruden and his pass-heavy offense. As noted in our QB preview, Dalton attempted far less passes under Hue Jackson in 2014. With Gresham being the only capable TE on the roster, he caught 62 passes for 460 yards and five scores in 15 games.
Eifert is more talented than Gresham, but given his durability concerns (16 games missed due to injury in first two seasons), it's hard to see him playing more than 14 games in a single season.
Still, Eifert had a great training camp last year to the point it looked like he was going to be more of a featured weapon in the offense than Gresham ended up being. Heck, Eifert caught three passes on three targets in the first quarter alone at Baltimore in Week 1 before dislocating his elbow.
In the end, Eifert still isn't a guy you want to be your No. 1 fantasy TE unless it's the last position you fill in your draft. He'll probably go somewhere after Round 10, and if you do get him, get another quality TE soon after to ensure you have insurance in case Eifert gets hurt again.
The other Tyler
The Bengals used a third-round pick (85th overall) on Rutgers TE Tyler Kroft in this year's draft. The Bengals loved him so much they said Kroft was their No. 1 TE prospect in this year's draft.
Kroft played 37 games with 24 starts for Rutgers over three seasons (2012-14), and his biggest year came as a sophomore when he led the team in catches (43) and receiving yards (573). His totals fell to 24-for-269 yards as a senior, but Rutgers moved to a run-dominated offensive scheme for 2014, and he improved his NFL stock as a blocker and team player during the season.
While Eifert will be the clear-cut No. 1 TE, Kroft could be someone to keep on your watch list if Eifert gets injured. Still, a guy who didn't catch a single TD his final year in college isn't someone you should even consider drafting in anything outside of a deep dynasty league.
While Eifert will be the clear-cut No. 1 TE, Kroft could be someone to keep on your watch list if Eifert gets injured. Still, a guy that didn't catch a single TD his final year in college isn't someone you should even consider drafting in anythign outside of a deep dynasty league.
What about Uzi?
The Bengals grabbed another TE in this year's draft when they surprisingly took Auburn's C.J. Uzomah in Round 5, despite many expecting him to go undrafted.
He did manage to impress the coaching staff in OTAs eenough that he'll not only likely make the 53-man roster, but may challenge Kroft for the No. 2 TE role. Still, he's not worth a roster spot in any FF league.
Eifert has enough potential to be a big-time FF performer this year and he should be drafted somewhere between Rounds 10-13. As mentioned before, Eifert should not be your starting TE unless he's the final starting slot you fill. He's better suited as a high-upside guy for your bench if your starting TE has big question marks.
As for Kroft and Uzomah, neither is worth rostering right now. However, if Eifert were to get injured in training camp or the preseason, Kroft or Uzomah could be thrust into a starting role to start the year. They still wouldn't be worth drafting, but could be a nice waiver wire add.