On Thursday, the 2013 NFL season will kick off. By now most of us have selected our fantasy football teams but should you still need to do so, one team that has a wealth of fantasy players is the Cincinnati Bengals. They have their eye on winning the AFC North this year and extending their season to January play.
If you’ve been watching this year’s Hard Knocks on HBO, you’ll already know these are the Bengals top five fantasy players.
Quarterback Andy Dalton: Looking for his third year to be the charm, Dalton has done well in his first two years. He has amassed 7,067 yards (60.2% pass completions and 6.8 yards per attempt), 47 touchdowns and 29 interceptions.
Last season, Dalton led the team in fantasy points at 239 and should do so again this season. He knows expectations are rising and lucky for him, he has an arsenal of weapons. Dalton’s favorite one is wide receiver A.J. Green but he also has two rookies that should make an immediate impact, running back Gio Bernard and tight end Tyler Eifert.
While Dalton doesn’t have the greatest arm for the long ball (
or a charismatic personality), he’s a good game manager and keeps focused. Look for this to continue this season.
Wide receiver A.J. Green: This two-time Pro Bowler is the Crown Jewel of Dalton’s targets. In 2012, Green had a great year with his 97 receptions, 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns. While he suffered a knee injury early in this preseason, he’s already back to form and there’s no reason why, at age 25, he should slow down this season.
In 2012, Green had 194 fantasy points and sat behind the league’s top wide receivers in the fourth spot: Detroit Lions Calvin Johnson, Dallas Cowboys Dez Bryant and Chicago Bears Brandon Marshall. With Marshall’s sore hip, Green could leap past him this year.
Running back Gio Bernard: The diminutive player is living up to the hype; he should see lots of playing time in his freshman season. From preseason play, Bernard has already showed his versatility, elusiveness and quickness.
In two years of college ball at North Carolina, Bernard had 423 carries with 92 receptions. Combined, he then scored 31 touchdowns or one touchdown every 16.5 touches. Bernard will be a nice complement to the Bengals starting running back, BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
The veteran is in his second year with the team and last season he ran for a career-high 1,094 yards. But you can’t help but think with the addition of Bernard, the team is succession planning.
Then we have the tight end duo with a Pro Bowler and the rookie.
Germaine Gresham – The two-time Pro Bowler should retain his starting spot and his strong production.
In 2012 with his 737 yards and five touchdowns, Gresham was No. 8 among fantasy points for tight ends. Looking ahead to this season and the competition, he could move up higher thanks to injuries of his brethren: New England Patriots Rob Gronkowski, Baltimore Ravens Dennis Pitta, Pittsburgh Steelers Heath Miller and New Orleans Saints Jimmy Graham.
But he will be sharing the wealth with a rookie, Tyler Eifert. However, he has been seen as more of a complement rather than a detriment.
Tyler Eifert – So who is Eifert? A first-round pick and member of Notre Dame’s championship team last year, he also comes with high expectations, bringing versatility to the field, a great vertical leap and some nice height at 6’6.”
Defenses may keep their eyes more on Eifert as he’s a good receiver and safeties could be challenged. He is a strong third-down and red zone player and by having him on your fantasy team, it could add some great depth.