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Andy Dalton - 2019 Fantasy Football Sleeper


Andy Dalton is coming off of his worst statistical year in the NFL in which he threw for 2,566 yards in just eleven games thanks in large part to a thumb injury during a week 12 loss to the Cleveland Browns...Or, at least that is what some of the narratives read. In reality, Andy Dalton was having a very Andy Dalton-Esque season in which he was on pace to throw for over 3,400 yards and 28 touchdowns. These would have ranked fourth and second for him in his eight-year career, respectively.

Dalton and the Bengals will enter their first season under head coach Zac Taylor, which marks the end of a sixteen-year stint filled with mediocrity under former Head Coach, Marvin Lewis. Zac Taylor, a former quarterback himself, brings in what Joe Mixon has referred to as a "nightmare" offense for defenses. Mixon was also quoted as saying it is "night and day from what every one has seen these past years from the old Bengals." From all accounts, the offense will be set up similar to the Los Angeles Rams' offense as that is where Taylor served as a wide receivers coach and quarterbacks coach the previous two seasons. This means you will likely see a lot of one running back, one tight end, and three wide receiver sets, which will give Dalton plenty of opportunities to throw the ball to his various playmakers.

While A.J. Green may miss a couple of weeks in the early going of 2019, the Bengals are still loaded on offense with the likes of Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Tyler Boyd, and John Ross at the skill positions. These above-mentioned reasons paired with the advanced metrics Andy Dalton provides makes him a very interesting QB sleeper in 2019.

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Andy Dalton's Time to Shine, Finally?

Andy Dalton's 2018 season ended rather abruptly after suffering a thumb injury Week 12 vs the Browns. This was unfortunate as he was actually on pace to have a solid season when compared to his career norms. Expectations for 2019 should be high, and several metrics support this.

First and foremost, let's begin with the weapons Dalton has at his side. While A.J. Green may miss the first couple weeks of the season, Dalton's weaponry must begin here. Green has been ol’ reliable for Dalton since they entered the league together in 2011. Green is an air yard machine for Dalton, registering 2.07 average yards per snap and a total of 105.8 yards per game. This ranks him in the top six percent and five percent of the league, respectively. These numbers show that Green is counted on game in and game out to produce for the Bengals, but if he were to miss time, who would step in?

Enter Tyler Boyd. Boyd, as a rookie, averaged 5.5 yards after the catch, which ranked him in the top 22% of the league overall. Boyd also put up a 71.7% catch rate, which placed him in the top 18% of the league among wide receivers. The catch rate is what stands out here. If Dalton is without A.J. Green for any duration (and he most certainly will be), having a reliable second option like Boyd is exactly what he needs.

Joe Mixon should also make life easier on Dalton in 2019. Mixon put up his first 1,000 yard rushing season during his second campaign in 2018 and finished with an average of 4.9 yards per carry (YPC). This ranked him 12th in the league in YPC, and will no doubt help the Bengals set up the passing game moving forward. Mixon also snagged 43 receptions on 55 targets for a total of 296 receiving yards in 2018. This equated to a 78.2% catch rate, which ranked him in the top 33% of the league among running backs. Mixon also found himself involved with 10.5% of the offensive targets as well as 20 touches per game. He is a dynamic back who's production should only increase in the coming seasons.

The loss of A.J. Green in the early going will certainly bring out the Andy Dalton detractors, but with a new offensive-minded coach and playmakers all around, he should settle right into this offense and have a solid overall season. However, it is definitely worth paying attention to pre-season reports out of Cincinnati to determine how Dalton is gelling with this new offense. He is currently being taken with an ADP of 240 and the number 26 quarterback off the board. His performance can surpass this ADP, and quite possibly put him as a fringe top 20 quarterback overall.

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