The NFLPA's 'rising-50' list comprises the 50 most likely young players in the league whose jerseys and other merchandise are expected to fly off the shelves going forward. Included in the consideration for these rankings is a combination of on-field performance, fantasy popularity, sponsorship and license demand, as well as the strength of their home market. They released their 2016 list with a few notable names.
The Bengals have two players on the list, which is about average for teams with any players on there at all. We can't all be the Washington Redskins who saw Matt Jones, Josh Doctson, Kirk Cousins, Jordan Reed, and Josh Norman all make appearances. But, that's still better than teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, and Kansas City Chiefs who weighed in with a grand total of zero players on the list.
The two Bengals who made it are Tyler Eifert and Andy Dalton, guys that no one should be surprised to see on a list of top rising players. Cincinnati isn't exactly a huge market, but these two players lit up both real life and fantasy stats last year.
Dalton finished the season with 255 completions on 386 attempts for 3,250 yards and 25 touchdowns through 13 games in 2015. By October, he led the NFL in total fantasy points and finished 19th despite missing three games and three quarters of a fourth game, according to FFtoday stats.
On the receiving end of many of those passes was Eifert, who put up 52 receptions on 74 targets for 315 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was a regular fantasy darling for most of the 2015 season until he got hurt near the end and wound up only playing in 13 games. He ranked sixth in fantasy points among tight ends by the end of 2015, although he ranked third in terms of points per game, according to FFtoday stats.
To make this list, merchandise sales must have already been high enough for these players to have appeared in a previous NFLPA top 50 player sales quarterly list.
The top player on the list was breakout Los Angeles Rams running back, Todd Gurley. Gurley's numbers were probably boosted by the Rams' move to the second biggest market in the United States. He's one of the most electrifying members of their team, so Los Angeles fans have to be excited about him. However, Dalton wasn't far off at No. 6.
Both Eifert and Dalton come in at No. 3 at their respective positions on this list. Dalton was beaten out by No. 2 rising star and 'you like that' magnate Kirk Cousins as well as No. 4 Jared Goff, the first No. 1 overall pick in Los Angeles since the Super Bowl era began. Eifert ranked at No.39 on this list, behind tight ends No. 24 Jordan Reed and No. 28 Gary Barnidge. The Bengals have got to be proud of their two rising stars. It is pretty surprising that A.J. Green isn't on this list as he's a frequent top jersey seller and though he's already a star, you could make the same argument for others on the list.