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Cincinnati Bengals fantasy football preview: wide receiver

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Fantasy Football season is nearly upon us. Where do our Bengals rank? In this third installment we look at the wide receiver position.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

With fantasy football draft season nearly upon us, it’s time to take a look at the various Bengals positions from a fantasy football perspective.

In this installment we will look at the wide receiver position.

While the Bengals’ roster will contain half a dozen wide receivers by Week 1, for fantasy football purposes there are only a few who need to be considered: A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, and Mohamed Sanu.

Historical:

Looking back over the last few seasons, here are the relevant fantasy football stats for Green, Jones, and Sanu.

Yr G Tgt Rec Rec Yd Rec TD Rush Yd Rush TD FFPts/G
AJ Green 2011 15 115 65 1,057 7 53 0 10.2
AJ Green 2012 16 164 97 1,350 11 38 0 12.8
AJ Green 2013 16 180 98 1,426 11 0 0 13.0
AJ Green 2014 12 116 69 1,041 6 2 0 11.7

Yr G Tgt Rec Rec Yd Rec TD Rush Yd Rush TD FFPts/G
M Jones 2012 8 32 18 201 1 47 0 3.9
M Jones 2013 16 80 51 712 10 65 0 8.6
M Jones 2014 0 0 - - 0 0 0 0.0

Yr G Tgt Rec Rec Yd Rec TD Rush Yd Rush TD FFPts/G
M Sanu 2012 6 25 16 154 4 15 0 6.8
M Sanu 2013 16 78 47 455 2 16 0 3.7
M Sanu 2014 16 99 57 790 5 51 0 7.1

*Points per game for a RB can vary depending if your league is "standard" or "ppr". For these totals I used "standard", which is the most common form of scoring – which is why it is called the "standard".

2014 Review:

Anybody who drafted A.J. Green as an elite wide receiver last year ended up disappointed with his big drop in production. He barely registered 1,000 yards and only totaled six touchdowns. While these numbers are disappointing, and often attributed to Hue Jackson’s love of the ground game, we need to remember that Green missed three games last year and parts of others. On a "per game" basis, his receiving yards were essentially unchanged (89 yards per game in 2013 vs 87 yards per game in 2014), although his receiving touchdowns took a drastic hit.

After emerging with an impressive 10 touchdowns on only 51 receptions in 2013, Marvin Jones missed all of 2014 with an injury. The injury to Jones (and Tyler Eifert) opened the door for Sanu to have a big year. Sanu did see a bump in production, but his inconsistent play failed to secure him the role of the Bengals’ second wide receiver for the upcoming season.

2015 Outlook:

A.J. Green

Positive – Green enters 2015 healthy, which should help his production improve from 2014
Even – The Bengals’ run-first philosophy will keep Green’s production from jumping up to his 2013 highs
Negative – The return of Jones and Eifert will limit the already reduced targets in Hue Jackson’s offense

Marvin Jones

Positive – Jones is healthy, although he is not returning to the more pass-friendly offense he enjoyed in 2013.
Even – None. Barring another year-long injury, Jones should top his 2014 production.
Negative – None. Jones can’t do worse than his 0 fantasy points produced in 2014. Well, he could, but let’s assume he doesn't compile negative total points for the season.

Mohamed Sanu

Positive – None. There is nothing which gives a boost to Sanu’s production compared to 2014, though he has had a nice training camp and scored the first Bengals touchdown of the preseason.
Even – None. There is nothing to give confidence that Sanu will match his production from 2014.
Negative – Jones is healthy
Negative – Eifert is healthy
Negative – Green is healthy

Yr G Tgt Rec Rec Yd Rec TD Rush Yd Rush TD FFPts/G
AJ Green 2011 15 115 65 1,057 7 53 0 10.2
AJ Green 2012 16 164 97 1,350 11 38 0 12.8
AJ Green 2013 16 180 98 1,426 11 0 0 13.0
AJ Green 2014 12 116 69 1,041 6 2 0 11.7
AJ Green 2015 16 165 95 1,350 9 0 0 11.8

A fully healthy season could see Green return to his sophomore year totals (2012), but the Bengals likely won't throw the ball enough for him to top that production, and even matching 2013 is far from certain. Based on the Yahoo fantasy football projections for wide receivers, Green falls in that 5-10 range with pal Calvin Johnson, and the pair of Green Bay receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. The run-heavy nature of the Bengals’ offense, and Dalton’s regression last season, have pushed his draft stock to the middle of round 2. Green is still an elite talent, and if he falls to you at the end of round 2, he is a very good value there.

Yr G Tgt Rec Rec Yd Rec TD Rush Yd Rush TD FFPts/G
M Jones 2012 8 32 18 201 1 47 0 3.9
M Jones 2013 16 80 51 712 10 65 0 8.6
M Jones 2014 0 0 - - 0 0 0 0.0
M Jones 2015 16 75 45 700 5 50 0 6.6

Two years ago Marvin Jones got a lot of love in the red zone, and converted that into an impressive stat line, boasting 10 touchdowns. A healthy Tyler Eifert coupled with a skilled Jeremy Hill running inside the tackles will make a big dent in Jones’ attempt to return to his touchdown totals from 2013. He should easily beat Sanu for the role of second wide receiver on the team, although with less passes to go around, he will likely reel in less yards than he accumulated in 2013. Jones projects to fall in the 50-65 range for wide receivers (around Andrew Hawkins, Stevie Johnson, Brian Quick, and Marqise Lee), which makes him a fifth or sixth wide receiver in standard 12 team leagues, which means he won't be drafted aside from the most optimistic of fans who expect a full return to his 2013 season.

Yr G Tgt Rec Rec Yd Rec TD Rush Yd Rush TD FFPts/G
M Sanu 2012 6 25 16 154 4 15 0 6.8
M Sanu 2013 16 78 47 455 2 16 0 3.7
M Sanu 2014 16 99 57 790 5 51 0 7.1
M Sanu 2015 16 70 45 600 2 15 0 4.6

With the return of Eifert and Jones, Sanu takes a back seat in his production for the 2015 season. Despite the random points Sanu will give you on gimmick flea flicker passes, given the Bengals’ offensive philosophy and Sanu’s expected role in that offense, he is undraftable in all leagues (unless you are in a 20 team league and looking for a fourth wide receiver).