The AFC North holds some of the toughest teams in the NFL. Not necessarily the best teams, but definitely some of the toughest. Whether it’s smash mouth between the tackles running, or the in your face hard hits brought to you by the pure hatred these teams have for each other, there has always been a good chance you’ll get a scrum in a divisional game. Even the weather makes it difficult to deal in the Midwest. Playing home games at 90 degrees and -5 degrees in the same season makes for some interesting strategy.
The Bengals have almost always had something going for them to stay out of the basement — the Browns. This season the Browns have made some big moves to attempt to take over the division. The Steelers are still the Steelers. The Ravens retooled their offense around second year quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Bengals are on the outside looking in.
The Bengals finally realized that Marvin Lewis was not the answer. He overstayed his welcome by several years and leaves a bit of a dumpster fire behind him. There will be growing pains, but this team finally has the opportunity to grow. If Mike Brown were to sell the team, the Bengals would be every bit as ferocious as their name suggests, but I digress.
Even the Bengals positive moves carry a dark cloud this off-season. with the 11th pick they drafted the top rated offensive tackle Jonah Williams. He proceeded to tear a labrum and will likely miss the whole season. A.J. “Mr. Glass” Green hurt ligaments in his ankle. while this is a familiar story at this point in time, the talent and production keep us coming back for more. A.J. can be one of the best wide receivers in the league when he stays healthy. At the moment he is already expected to miss several games this season.
Those were bad luck — now we are onto head scratching decisions. The Bengals made no splash in free agency. They did re-sign blocking tight end C.J. Uzomah to an $18 million, three year contract. Then they spent their second round pick on….. another blocking tight end?
The Bengals drafted a quarterback that looks worse than Jeff Driskel so far. Even if Ryan Finley achieves his ceiling, he will be pretty much an average quarterback. Best case for Cincinnati? I’d like to introduce Andy Dalton 2.0!!!
Joe Mixon is a stud running back. As long as he stays healthy, he is going to run and catch the ball, and do both well. Gio Bernard is his primary handcuff and will see some action throughout the season, but unless there is an injury he will only be a cuff.
Green is good enough to take a chance on, but how far does he drop for you? As this is ANOTHER serious injury, so he stays off my radar. I’ve seen him drop as far as the sixth round in some dynasty drafts, and I’m sure he will be hit even harder in re-draft. The thing keeping him afloat is say he misses the first six games of the season, he will be coming back for your stretch run and as history has shown, he makes an immediate impact.
Tyler Boyd is one to watch, especially with the injury to Green. While he doesn’t have the skill set of Green, he will be a low-end WR2 with the volume he will be seeing. John Ross should see an uptick as well, but is fighting his own injury bug.
Speaking of the injury bug, Tyler Eifert is back. He and Green are trying to see who can sit out more games. Right now Eifert is winning. When healthy, he has shown a good rapport with Dalton. There isn’t enough of that healthy though, especially recently. He’s worth a LATE flyer if no one else is there. He has easy TE1 upside when he is on the field.
This brings me to Dalton. I hate it when it comes down to Dalton. He’s not good at football. He’s typically not good in fantasy football either. He’s a bottom of the barrel, superflex or two quarterback league guy. Stay away or don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I see the Bengals as being the last place team in the AFC North. I see the Bengals being the last place team in the AFC. In fact, I see the Bengals being the worst team in the NFL. There are worse teams out there, but with the resurgence of the Browns, there are no easy wins on the schedule this season. Maybe this is the season the Bengals earn another No. 1 overall pick that they can screw up? Guess we will find out.
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