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Fantasy Football: Early outlook for the Bengals’ offense

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Who should you be looking to add to your fantasy team from the Bengals this season?

Cincinnati Bengals v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Teams are finally hitting the field for practice, which means one thing. Fantasy football is quickly approaching.

We’re going to take a close look at how this offseason has impacted expectations for Bengals’ players in fantasy, as the Bengals roster is essentially complete at this point. We will obviously see plenty of names get cut, but for the most part, we can assume they aren’t going to bring in anymore big name offensive players.

At this point, injuries have a bigger chance of having an impact on the fantasy outlooks for these players. We’re going to split these players up into must haves, decent starter, take a chance and don’t bother.

Must haves

A.J. Green (WR): Green has had issues staying healthy the past few seasons. When healthy, he is still easily a 1,000 yard receiver who can top 10 touchdowns. Some receivers in this new offense may have to worry about not being able to hit the marks you’d like to see out of a fantasy receiver. After all, there is a new offense in town now that Zac Taylor is taking over, but Green shouldn’t have to worry about that as Andy Dalton’s favorite target.

Joe Mixon (RB): One of the biggest things we won’t know until the season starts is just how much usage Mixon will get in this offense. We saw Todd Gurley get all the touches he could handle in Los Angeles last year.

But Taylor, who had a first-hand look at that success, saw how it impacted the running back’s health in the postseason. We also saw the Bengals draft Trayveon Williams and Rodney Anderson in the draft. That helps support the idea that Taylor may want more of a stable of backs rather than putting it all on one guy.

That all really just impacts Mixon’s ceiling. He still has one of the highest floors of any runningback in the draft. It is obvious the Bengals have become very committed to running the ball first, which is something they got away from Mixon’s first two seasons in the league. Not to mention the offensive line isn’t as bad.

Decent Starter

Tyler Boyd (WR): Boyd could easily be a must have next season, but the reality is he is still playing second fiddle to Green. He also is coming off his first season of success. For where he is likely to go in leagues based in Cincinnati, he will likely end up being a huge risk.

That being said, Boyd is still a great WR2 in any league, especially PPR (points per reception). If Taylor’s offense is anything like the Rams, there is plenty of room for two successful receivers. A contract year also seems to get the best out of players.

Take a chance

Tyler Eifert (TE): Health is everything here. If Eifert can stay healthy, he will be one of the better tight ends in fantasy football. It still just comes down to him staying healthy. The team drafting Drew Sample in the second round will likely take away some snaps, so even his ceiling has taken a hit.

I would draft him as my backup tight end just to be safe, or at least make sure you draft someone to be his backup. You don’t want to have to scavenge the waiver wire in the event his season comes to an end.

John Ross (WR): You know when you get to the last few rounds, and you are looking to take a guy who you’re okay with having as a backup, but you’d also just as happily be willing to drop? Take Ross in those rounds. At worst, you drop him in the early weeks of the season. At best, he proves he can be a reliable flex player.

It is hard to imagine a Bengal who could see a bigger impact than Ross with Taylor’s new offense coming to town. He is entrenched in the third receiver spot, but last year the Rams were on pace to have three receivers reach 1,000 yards receiving before Cooper Kupp got injured.

There is room for Ross in this offense if he is able to finally turn a corner in his professional career.

Giovani Bernard (RB): People keep forgetting about Bernard. Despite the Bengals drafting Williams and Anderson, Bernard is easily the team’s second running back. Bernard will be most valuable as Mixon’s handcuff, but if Taylor is true to his word about trying to keep Mixon fresh, we could see a decent enough amount of touches for Bernard that he could be a flex option in PPR leagues (on a matchup basis).

Andy Dalton (QB): Odds are you will easily be able to snag Dalton late in your draft. Unless you are in a league with an optimistic Bengals’ fan that is. Dalton is one of those players who quietly is a serviceable option in fantasy year in and year out. He has a very solid floor, but if he can flourish under Taylor’s offense, he could end up being a player who elevates your fantasy team.

When you consider you could probably draft Dalton sometime after the eighth round, he seems like a guy who is well worth the risk.

I do feel like Dalton is close to being ranked in the decent starter category, but there just seems like there will be better options earlier in the draft considering how much of a passing league the NFL has become.

Don’t bother

Trayveon Williams and Rodney Anderson (RBs): We should see more of these guys than we saw of Mark Walton last year (depending on Anderson’s health), but they won’t even touch the necessary volume of touches to be considered rosterable unless someone goes down in front of them.

Drew Sample (TE): Sample is a guy I could easily see being a quality backup tight end or streaming option, but who is going to draft Sample? Unless you are using your last pick on Sample, I really don’t get the point.

Most of his value will come if Eifert goes down with an injury, but if the Bengals do end up using him frequently as the inline tight end instead of Eifert, then that first sentence comes back into play.

It is just hard seeing a reality where you would have any trouble being able to pick him up off waiver wires during the season.