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We will be reviewing all 32 teams at RotoBaller in our Dynasty Team outlook series. We are breaking down every team as they currently stand and will review them again after free agency has concluded. Which players should you buy and which players should you sell? Who will be sleepers this season and who will be busts? We will cover all the positions and all the angles for you.

Between 2005 and 2015, with Marvin Lewis at the helm, the Cincinnati Bengals took home four division championships and made seven playoff appearances. Every single one of those seven playoff appearances ended in the same way: with a loss in the Wild Card round. No matter the opponent, how many wins they managed to accumulate, or the different combinations of players, the Bengals have just never been able to overcome that most minor of a hurdle in the 15 years under Marvin Lewis. Combine this fact with two consecutive third place finishes in the AFC North and a record of 13-18-1 over that span, it's safe to say that Cincinnati fans were a little surprised when the organization decided to commit to another two years with their long tenured coach. After two straight forgettable campaigns in losing out to the likes of consistent division foes Pittsburgh and Baltimore, with the Cleveland Browns in hot pursuit after a frenzied series of off season action, how can the Bengals look to get back on the winning path? (and hopefully, even a single playoff win in the future)

If the subtle tweaks made to the roster this offseason are able to take full effect and Cincinnati can swing an extra couple of games in their favor, they could be contending for a playoff spot before we know it. If the components aren't clicking and the rest of the division (Cleveland) catches up to them, it may be a series of last place AFC North finishes in these immediate seasons to come.

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Cincinnati Bengals Dynasty Outlook

Team Record: 7-9 (3rd, AFC North)

Fantasy Leaders (taken from FantasyData.com)

QB: Andy Dalton - 210.70 (QB17)
RB: Joe Mixon - 111.30 (RB32)
WR: AJ Green - 151.80 (WR10)
TE: Tyler Kroft - 82.40 (TE11)
IDP: Carlos Dunlap - 106 (DL15)

 

Quarterback

Andy Dalton has been the portrait of consistency during his seven seasons in a Bengals uniform, and has shown what his ceiling of potential can be under ideal conditions. Dalton has had five seasons in which he throw between 3,000 and 4,000 yards in a season and in those years the variation in results was marginal with a yardage range of 3,250-3,669, a TD range of 19-27, and an INT range of 7-16. In the two years in which he surpassed 4,000 yards he averaged 4,249.5 yards, 25.5 TD, and 14 INT per season. In his seven year career, he has failed to start all sixteen games of the season just one time (2015 when he started 13 games).

By using their 2018 1st round draft pick on center Billy Price out of Ohio State and trading for Bills LT Cordy Glenn, the Bengals have effectively addressed at least some of the offensive line issues that plagued Dalton in 2017. After being sacked an average of 40 times per year over the last two seasons, this news surely makes Dalton sigh a breath of relief. With A.J. Green looking like a superhero year-after-year (we know who the Boy Wonder is in this dynamic duo), a reliable pass catching two-man backfield, Tyler Eifert looking ready to be back for OTAs, and AJ McCarron no longer looming as a second string QB threat, we can once again expect Dalton to assume his position in the middle-tier QB range for Fantasy Football Managers in 2018. His peak seasons of late and greater affinity towards rushing TDs than the average gun slinging QB, Dalton always has the potential to creep towards the top ten, but that isn't exactly a safe bet considering the rebuilding circumstances in Cincinnati.

 

Running Back

Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard together? While that may be one solid pass-catching backfield combo for Andy Dalton to go bananas with, it's a carry-splitting situation I wouldn't touch with a pole from Great American Ball Park to Paul Brown Stadium. In 14 games last season, Mixon finished with 913 yards from scrimmage (626 rushing and 287 receiving) with four touchdowns, all of which were of the rushing variety. In the same campaign the five-year veteran Bernard played in all 16 contests and achieved 847 yards from scrimmage (458 yards rushing and 389 yards receiving) with four total TD (evenly split between rushing and receiving).

It appears rather clear: in a standard league we slightly favor Joe Mixon and in a PPR league, we slightly favor Giovani Bernard. While Mixon clearly appears to be more within the Bengals vision for the future, he was only able to produce 3.5 yards per carry compared to Bernard's 4.4 and though he was still able to gain 30 receptions in 14 games, Giovani still out caught him by 13 passes in the 16 games he saw the field for.

Though Cincinnati added former Miami Hurricane Mark Walton to the RB depth chart through their fourth round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, his placement on the roster for this upcoming season is most likely an after thought. Jeremy Hill didn't even surpass Giovani Bernard when the Bengals picked him up from the LSU Tigers roster through the draft, and he was a second round pick. Walton exhibits some solid rushing talent with a height of 1,117 yards and 14 TDs in his last full-season for Miami, this makes him little more than a sleeper for a handful of goal line carries.

The real message: the Bengals clearly didn't construct their backfield with Fantasy Football in mind. Andy Dalton loves to work with a diverse mix of pass catching backs and while Mixon is more than likely more finely tuned to be a part of the Bengals organization in the long term, the certain near 50/50 split in backfield utilization means that both of the premier Cincinnati backs will likely struggle to crack even the top 30 once again. Unless of course you are in a PPR league, in which case Mixon and Bernard both hold slightly inflated value.

 

Wide Receiver

There are still few elite wide receivers in the NFL that are as bonafide perennially as A.J. Green. He has only managed to fall short of 1,000 receiving yards and at least five TDs once in his seven year career: this happened in 2016 when he accrued 964 yards and four touchdowns in just ten games played. He has averaged 1,173 yards and eight TD per season over his career and in a full 16-game season he has never failed to amass at least 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns (both of his totals from 2017). Whether this matters or not, (it absolutely doesn't) he has also never failed to be selected for the Pro Bowl.

A.J. Green is ultimately able to be at his best when Andy Dalton is at his best. Andy Dalton is ultimately at his best when he has a sturdy O-Line, a plethora of offensive options to chuck at, and when A.J. Green is at his best. The fallacy of circular logic aside, the Cincinnati offense will be dependent on Dalton connecting with Green consistently in the Bengals passing game. With the improvements the front office has made to Dalton's protective layer and Tyler Eifert being back to attract some attention away from him, we can once again safely expect Green to man a top ten Fantasy Football wide receiver slot while always holding the potential for #1 status.

31-year old Brandon LaFell was the second in command out of the Cincy receiving core last year and in his two seasons in the orange and black has averaged 705 yards and 4.5 TD per year. LaFell has made his living throughout his career as a deep-threat. While this serves as a nice asset for Dalton 's slinging style skill set and makes him a high risk/high reward compliment to Green, there is definitely a concrete ceiling of output for him next to the pass-catching backfield and duo of dynamic tight ends he shares the field with.

As underground options, Cincinnati may be looking for breakout seasons from potential third-options like Tyler Boyd, John Ross, and even former German Leaguer Moritz Boehringer. A.J. Green and Brandon LaFell may have the #1 and #2 spots locked down for now, but those remaining targets appear ripe for the taking to the first man that proves his mettle.

 

Tight End

Can you only imagine if Andy Dalton had two Tylers to work with? In 2015, at the age of 25, Tyler Eifert turned in an exciting season that should've been a preview for Pro Bowl seasons to come. That year he gained 615 yards receiving and caught 13 touchdown passes. He accomplished that in 13 games played (that's a TD per game!). In the following season he parlayed 29 receptions into 394 yards and five TDs. In 2017, his injury issues saw that he only took the field for five targets all season. That opened the door for former Rutgers product Tyler Kroft to step in for his breakout year (coincidentally at the age of 25) and turned 42 catches into 404 receiving yards and a hefty seven touchdowns.

So far this offseason, all indications show that Tyler Eifert will be ready for OTAs. This doesn't bode well for Kroft going into 2018. While Gronk may have already demonstrated that a tight end can recover from a lengthy, injury checkered track record, the prognosis on Eifert's future isn't exactly filled with certainty. Andy Dalton targets TE, especially in the red zone, and the athletic upside of the Eifert/Kroft combo make them viable options all over the field. Tyler Kroft's value takes a significant hit if the more-talented Tyler Eifert makes 10+ starts. However, with Eifert's "Humpty Dumpty" history of needing reassembly, don't count on Kroft being out of the picture.

 

IDP

The foundation of a reliable individual defensive player pick out of a defensive line is sacks, sacks, and plenty more sacks. This, however, leaves some area of debate when discussing the best option for Fantasy Football Managers from the Cincinnati defensive squad. Carlos Dunlap in his last five seasons with the Bengals has averaged nearly nine sacks per season, while never accumulating less than 7.5 and reaching a height of 13.5 in a season back in 2015. The two-time Pro Bowler has also appeared in all 16 games over that five season span.

By the same token, teammate and fellow Pro Bowler Geno Atkins has also been terrorizing opposing QBs during recent seasons for The Queen City. Particularly over the last three seasons, while playing in all 16 games, Atkins has averaged nearly ten sacks per season while experiencing little deviation with a range of 9.0-11.0 sacks per campaign.

The difference maker here seems to be health and upside offered through athletic ability. Dunlap has two INT returned for touchdowns in his career, with one coming in 2017, and has played in every game of the season since all the way back to 2012. Geno Atkins only has one defensive TD in his career, and that came after a fumble recovery during his 2011 Pro Bowl season. Atkins is likely a safer pick on the sole basis of sacks produced per season. However with the athletic upside that Dunlap has manifested into defensive touchdowns and the safety he offers through his current injury-free five year track record, Carlos likely offers the highest ceiling proceeding into the 2018 season. Also, don't sleep on CB Darqueze Dennard who last year at the age of 26 finally broke through for the Bengals with two picks (109 return yards and a TD as a result), two sacks, and 59 tackles.

 

Draft Recap

As was expected, the Cincinnati Bengals decided to apply some much-needed patchwork for some of the gaping holes in their roster through the 2018 NFL Draft. They selected center Billy Price from Ohio State to help shore up the aching offensive line to further protect Andy Dalton from additional beatdowns this season and selected guard Rod Taylor out of Ole Miss with a late pick.

Mostly though, Cincinnati used their draft picks on defensive assets who will immediately have to take a back seat on the depth chart. This list of defensive college standouts includes: S Jessie Bates (Wake Forest), DE Sam Hubbard (Billy Price's Buckeye teammate), OLB Malik Jefferson (Texas), CB Davontae Harris (Illinois St.), DT Andrew Brown (Virginia), and CB Darius Phillips (Western Michigan). While these defensive picks don't necessarily address glaring and immediate needs, the Bengals have demonstrated a high success rate of talent acquisition through the draft, so these defensive stowaways are far from puzzling choices.

That leaves RB Mark Walton (Miami), QB Logan Woodside (Toledo), and WR Auden Tate (Florida State) for fantasy owners to evaluate. Despite the crowded Bengals backfield, they like to rotate new faces into the mix as often as they can as shown by the musical chairs played in recent seasons with backs like Bernard, Mixon, Jeremy Hill, and Rex Burkhead. As unlikely as it may be that Walton finds a share in utilization this year, his affinity towards pure rushing as opposed to a 50/50 split in carries and receptions cracks the door for Walton to maybe see some occasional goal-line action in his rookie year. Despite the fan base's seasonal impatience with Dalton and Logan Woodside's impressive college production for the Toledo Rockets, this is little more than a late-round flyer and Woodside will likely settle in all the way behind backups Matt Barkley and Jeff Driskel. Andy Dalton is signed through 2020 for a lot of dough. Get used to it.

Finally, the former Seminole Auden Tate was able to grab 548 receiving yards and an impressive 10 touchdowns in 2017 and nabbed 409 yards and six TD in his sophomore season of 2016. Tate is close to last in line to receive playing time and targets in the Cincinnati receiving corps that's crawling with young, untapped potential. However, if the likes of Cody Core, Tyler Boyd, and John Ross fail to pan out, then Tate is a Zombie-Level sleeper and offers the Red Rifle yet another weapon with hands like glue in the end zone.

 

More 2018 Team Outlooks