The greatest time of year is rolling around: fantasy football drafts are right around the corner. Now that the NFL Draft is over and most major free agents have landed (aside from Dez Bryant), it is time for fantasy football rankings to be rolled out in the current landscape.
ESPN recently stuck some of their fantasy writers and analysts in a room to discuss the upcoming season and the fantasy implications. When they emerged they gave us their top 50 overall PPR (points per reception) players as well as a ranking at each position.
How did the Bengals fair?
Well, aside from A.J. Green, you can get some real bargains on your favorite Bengals’ players in fantasy.
The Bengals actually have two players in the overall top-50. Green is ranked 15th overall and Joe Mixon makes the list as the 34th-ranked player. It is interesting to see him on the list in his first full year as a starter, but clearly the Bengals’ upgrades to the offensive line and the subtraction of Jeremy Hill has these ESPN writers intrigued. And, fantasy football veterans know how effective running backs are getting harder and harder to come by in leagues.
The positional ranks show that there isn’t much faith in the Bengals turning around the offense this season. Green is ranked as the seventh overall receiver behind guys like Keenan Allen and Michael Thomas. This probably has more to do with a lack of faith in Andy Dalton and the amount of attention Green receives each game.
Mixon is also the 16th-ranked running back overall. That is probably because in PPR formats guys like Christian McCaffrey, who are very involved in the passing game, will get the nod over him. It is also worth noting that Giovani Bernard is 48th overall. I do think we will end up seeing more of Bernard in various capacities this year. I expect a 60/40 split pretty similar to how they did last season.
However, the addition of Mark Walton in the draft kills the idea of grabbing Bernard near the end of the draft. Walton does a lot of similar things to Bernard, and it is possible even taking a few touches could be the difference between Bernard being a starting player in deeper leagues or not.
The rest of the Bengals didn’t fair so well in their positional rankings. Andy Dalton is ranked 26th out of the 30 quarterbacks ranked for this list. It is hard to really argue this based off of how he did the past few seasons. I still don’t think Mitchell Trubisky should be ranked ahead of him, though.
I will say I usually take Dalton as my backup quarterback if I roll with one, especially this season with the improvements to the offensive line, the change of offense, as well as Tyler Eifert and John Ross coming into camp healthy. That could make a huge difference.
That is especially true if you are grabbing him in rounds 10 or later. Of course, if you’re in a draft with a bunch of Bengals fans, he could easily get over-drafted.
Speaking of Eifert, he is the 14th-ranked tight end by their standards. Again, it is hard to argue because of his injury history. If he stays healthy he will easily be one of the top tight ends, but how do you factor in his injuries into the rankings?
I really like Eifert for the right value. He may sink below 14th overall at his position in plenty of drafts, and if you are staring at Eifert as possibly being your second tight end in rounds 10 or later that isn’t bad at all (even more so if your league allows tight ends to be played in the flex).
It should also be noted Tyler Kroft was not ranked after scoring seven touchdowns last season. That is most likely due to Eifert’s return, and the fact he wasn’t a consistent fantasy performer even as the team’s top tight end last season.
That is all of the Bengals in their rankings. Not even the defense made the rankings of the top-20 defenses and special teams. That is probably because they were ranked at second to last in turnovers last season.
That also means Ross isn’t on the list at all, but again, it isn’t surprising. I will say though when it comes around to the your last pick before your kicker, I’d try and snag him as a bottom-of-the-bench guy.
There are two reasons for this strategy. The first is that expectations are so low that if he doesn’t pan out you can just drop him and move on. Honestly, it is what you would do with whatever player you take their anyway.
The second reason you draft him is because he could easily become a flex starter. He is coming in healthy with a fresh slate, and the team wants to show they didn’t draft a bust, so he should have a fairly easy time getting the snaps of the second or third receiver behind Green and Brandon LaFell. It is a low risk move that could end up paying pretty big dividends.
Do you agree with where the Bengals rank on ESPN’s fantasy football list?