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Sleeper Spotlight: Cincinnati Bengals

As part of the premium content package, we’re not only releasing exclusive team capsules (complete with commentary), but also focusing on one sleeper from all 32 teams in the NFL.

These sleepers all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but all merit a little more talking about than we had room for in the dynasty capsules for each team. Some of these players are deep dynasty sleepers who could merit a spot on your bench in a deep league, while others are players who may contribute a little faster than the deep prospects, but deserve more attention than they may be getting. By definition, a sleeper could mean something a little different to everyone, but we’re simply doing the best job we can to unearth one player from each team who fits the category in some way, shape or form.

We’ll just never insult you with a comprehensive list of “sleepers” that includes such names as Demaryius Thomas, Ryan Mathews or even someone like Stevan Ridley. You’re all too good for that.

While many of these players will undoubtedly fizzle, we figure there’s value in looking more closely at these deeper prospects and players. We invite you to keep an open mind and even re-assess your value on those who may be rostered in your league. You may even consider adding a few of these deeper prospects we focus on this Summer who are free agents in your league – after all, some are destined to pan out, too.

Armon Binns, WR CIN
Age: 22 (9/8/89)

The second year receiver, primarily a practice squad player for the Bengals in 2011, continues to stand out in camp.  So much so that it’s believed the race for the WR2 position is currently a dead heat between Brandon Tate and Binns.

Having limited success with 2011’s WR2, Jerome Simpson, has set the Bengals on a quest to find a suitable athletic receiver to help draw coverage away from super-stud A.J. Green.  Simpson was allowed to walk in free agency and Binns now finds himself battling for the role with the jettisoned Patriot Tate and two rookie newcomers in the form of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones.

To his credit, Binns has been turning heads since 2011 while on the practice squad.   He’d routinely play the role of an opposing WR1 such as Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson.  Whether role playing or not, Binns was a nightmare to cover and was said to be eating the defense’s lunch daily.  Now with a full year under his belt and a wide open depth chart, Binns is bringing the same level of play to training camp.  Again, he’s turning heads.

The 6’3″ Binns played for the Cincinnati Bearcats and in his final two years hauled in 136 receptions for 21 touchdowns, but surprisingly went undrafted in 2011.  With 4.50 40 speed and relatively impressive athleticism, it’s believed that scouts were scared off by a fairly one dimensional game, sub-par strength and significant lapses of focus, especially with the ball in the air.  Now in his second year, Binns has matured and has embraced the deficiencies in his game with a stronger work ethic.

With no veteran receiver guaranteed to step into the open role, we like Binns’ size and athleticism enough to predict that he will see significant snaps on offense, regardless as to whether or not he formally beats out his fellow receivers for the WR2 role. In an offense where A.J. Green will draw immediate and every-down double or bracket coverage and tight end Jermaine Gresham will be occupying seam routes, a good sized receiver with a wide catch radius should see plenty of opportunities opposite Green and across the middle. In short, Binns needs to be on your radar.

He may have a difficult time ultimately beating out Brandon Tate for the role, but it’s obvious the coaching staff is eager to get Binns on the field to see what type of player he can be.  The now departed Simpson finished 2011 with 50 receptions for 725 yards and three touchdowns.  We believe these numbers are well within reach for whichever receiver steps up to the WR2 role.

Binns won’t be on many radars heading into training camp which will provide time for opportunistic coaches to monitor the situation closely before ultimately deciding on a course of action.  We don’t feel he is a must add at this juncture unless you have room at the bottom of your roster, but if he continues to receive first-team reps, we wouldn’t delay too long before making the addition.

Jeff Haverlack
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