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Fantasy Football Team Previews: Cincinnati Bengals

With Joe Burrow at QB, will the Bengals bounce back in 2020?
Joe Mixon is Rally Towel’s No. 4 ranked player in PPR fantasy football leagues. (Twitter // @PFF_Fantasy)
2019 Summary

Record: 2-14 (4th in AFC North)

2019 Offensive Points-Per-Game: 17.4 (30th)

2019 Total Defense-adjusted Value Over Average: -25.2% (29th)

There wasn’t a whole lot to like about the Cincinnati Bengals’ 2019. Things got started off rocky when A.J. Green suffered an injury in the preseason which prevented him from suiting up all season. After a slow start, running back Joe Mixon salvaged a top-20 performance, while wide receiver Tyler Boyd finished as WR21 in PPR. Outside of those two, nobody had any sort of pulse in fantasy football.

Major additions
  • DT, D.J. Reader
  • CB, Trae Waynes
  • G, Xavier Su’a-Filo
  • CB, Mackensie Alexander
  • QB, Joe Burrow
  • WR, Tee Higgins
  • LB, Logan Wilson
Major subtractions
  • QB, Andy Dalton
  • CB, Dre Kirkpatrick
  • T, Cordy Glenn

4 major storylines for 2020

Is Joe Burrow the guy?

The first-overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft absolutely dominated the NCAA last season. It was an unexpected rise to stardom, but Burrow’s excellence can’t be ignored. His eye-popping 5,671 passing yards and 60 passing touchdowns represent one of the greatest single seasons in college football history. The pause with Burrow, however, is that his surge was sudden, and anticipated by nobody. Joe Brady, Louisiana State University’s passing-game coordinator in 2019 has signed on as the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers. Was it his genius, or Burrow’s talent? My read is that it was a mix of both. I think Burrow has all of the tools (legs, arm, football IQ) to succeed in at an elite level in a well-run offense. Head coach Zac Taylor was the Los Angeles Rams’ QB coach when Jared Goff had his best statistical season in 2018, and the hope is he’s able to channel that same success with Burrow.

Can A.J. Green return to elite WR status?

Missing all of 2019, Green has only suited up for 35 of a possible 64 games over the past four seasons. 2017, the last time he played more than 10 games in a year, he finished as WR10 in PPR leagues. At 31-years-old, there are some serious questions about his ability to replicate that success. I still think Green is a talented player, but some context is needed for his successful 2017. He played a full-16 games that year, a difficult task for most NFL players. Additionally, the Bengals had a very weak WR group that season. Aside from Green, Brandon LaFell was the only WR to top 30 receptions. With Boyd, John Ross and Higgins in Cincy, the competition for targets has increased significantly. Green’s days of being an elite WR are a thing of the past, but he still is serviceable as a mid-range WR3.

Is Joe Mixon being overdrafted?

Over the past two seasons, Mixon has posted an RB10 and RB17 finish in PPR leagues. This year, he’s being selected as RB7 in NFFC leagues. This has a lot to do with a completely revamped Bengals offense who will also add 2019 first-round pick OT Jonah Williams into the mix after a shoulder injury derailed his rookie season. Additionally, Mixon is one of the most athletically talented RBs in the NFL. With Burrow at the helm, and a plethora of weapons on the outside, I think Mixon will be able to take advantage of the versatility this offense will offer and finish the year as a top-5 RB in PPR.

Will Tee Higgins or John Ross emerge as the WR3 in this offense?

Given the nature of this NFL offseason, I’m going to side with the veteran, John Ross. The transition period for WRs is typically cumbersome during a normal offseason, let alone the one NFL players have experienced this year. Some of Higgins’ best traits mirror Green’s, which makes me believe he’s more of a succession selection than someone who is going to make an instant impact. If Ross stays healthy, which is far from a sure thing, he should be able to cling onto WR3 duties. If the oft-injured Ross misses some time, Higgins could see some good volume as a rookie.

Sleeper: Joe Burrow

Waiting on QB is something I typically do in my fantasy football drafts, so as QB19 in NFFC drafts, he’s been someone I look to target late in the draft. QB is very deep this year, as it typically is, but there is immense upside with Burrow. He’s a great QB2 option in superflex leagues, especially if paired with a more risk-adverse QB like Matt Stafford or Matt Ryan.

Bust: A.J. Green

Outside of Mixon, the Bengals don’t have many high profile offensive weapons. At 31-years-old and after missing an entire season, there’s certainly some risk with selecting Green. The Bengals WR room is much deeper than it was in his last great fantasy football season, which could seriously limit his upside.

Bengals Players in Rally Towel’s Top-200 Fantasy Football Rankings
4. RB, Joe Mixon

65. WR, A.J. Green

71. WR, Tyler Boyd

117. QB, Joe Burrow

165. RB, Giovani Bernard

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