Dynasty Capsule: Cincinnati Bengals

Eric Olinger


As part of the premium content package, we’re again unveiling dynasty capsules for every team in the NFL leading up to free agency and the NFL Draft. This year, we’re again going to do a follow-up on all the teams after all the free agency and NFL Draft movement to assess the impact of any players teams have gained or lost. Since these capsules are always done as a simple snapshot in time, we figured that was the best way to tackle the off-season and provide ultimate value for our subscribers. All in all, we’ll have close to 500 player profiles found in these capsules over the off-season.

We continue our path through the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals.


Andy Dalton

There couldn’t have been a worse time for Dalton to have his worst statistical season of his career than in 2014. His 3,398 passing yards were identical to his rookie season and his 19:17 touchdown-to-interception ratio was easily the worst of his four-year career. It’s not fair to put all the blame on Dalton, though. The transition from Jay Gruden to Hue Jackson was a major philosophical overhaul for the Bengals’ offense as a whole. The emphasis was to become a run-first team with strategic shots downfield. Unfortunately, Dalton rarely had a full arsenal at his disposal. Marvin Jones missed the entire season with a foot/ankle injury, Tyler Eifert went down for the season in week one and A.J. Green missed three games due to a toe injury – this left Dalton with Mohamed Sanu, who led the league in dropped passes, and Jermaine Gresham who is “just a guy” on his best days.

Entering 2015, Dalton seems to maintain backing from the Cincinnati coaching staff after getting a positive-ish endorsement from Coach Marvin Lewis who stated “We have no problem with Andy Dalton as our quarterback.” The thing about Dalton is he’s never going to wow anyone in a 24-hour news cycle, fantasy driven sports world. He reminds me a lot of Chad Pennington. He’s never going to be the first quarterback taken but he’s not going to be the last either. As he’s proven four years in a row now, he’s just good enough to get you beat in the first round of the playoffs every year. For fantasy purposes, he’s just a QB2 as long as Hue Jackson is calling the shots.

A.J. McCarron

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With Jason Campbell a free agent, McCarron currently finds himself as the default back-up quarterback in Cincinnati but I don’t expect it to last. McCarron is basically another Dalton but with less upside. The best thing McCarron has going for him is his wife Katherine Webb-McCarron. Good for him!

Running Backs

Jeremy Hill

When the Bengals selected Hill in last year’s draft, it was expected he would step into the role vacated by BenJarvus Green-Ellis and be the 1b to Giovani Bernard’s 1a. Nobody told Hill, so he muscled his way into the starting lineup and stole the gig on a way to a top 1tenfinish at his position. His 1,124 rushing yards ended up being just five yards short of the franchise rookie record set by Corey Dillon in 1997. He also finished tied for second in the league with 5.1 yards per carry among running backs. To put things into perspective, he joined Eric Dickerson and Curtis Martin as the only players in NFL history with four games of 140+ yards rushing in their rookie season.

I think the Bengals want to continue using a timeshare at running back with Hill and Gio. It was no secret the team’s success tied directly to the success of the ground game. If the Bengals can get Hill 18-20 carries and Gio 10-12 touches per game, they undoubtedly find team success. With an early ADP of 29.33 as the RB6 in January’s dynasty mocks, people are more than comfortable rolling with Hill as their RB1.

Giovani Bernard

What a difference a year makes! In February of 2014, Giovani Bernard had a dynasty ADP of 12.70 as the RB4 in dynasty start-ups as the next great PPR runner. He was supposed to be the next Ray Rice or Maurice Jones-Drew as a guy who can get it done in between the tackles while also giving you 65+ receptions a year – PPR gold! It was no secret Green-Ellis wouldn’t be back and there was nothing but smooth sailing in front of the 5’9”, 208 runner. This optimism lasted for about three months until the Bengals used the 55th selection in the draft to take Jeremy Hill. It was obvious Hue Jackson did not view Gio as an every down runner he could feature with 20-25 touches per game.

In three fewer games, Bernard nearly duplicated his rookie season’s statistics so it’s not like he performed poorly. He actually scored about half a point more per game in PPR leagues. It’s not the Ray Rice or MJD numbers many were expecting when he was selected so early in dynasty drafts, but in no way is he a bust.


Bernard will enter 2015 with a very clear and defined role in the Bengals offense. As the supporting cast returns and opens up the passing game, look for Bernard to get more chances to put his explosiveness on display. In my opinion, he is an incredible buy low candidate with everyone drooling over Jeremy Hill. Gio’s price tag has literally never been lower than right now and he’s just 23 years old. Kick the tires on the owner in your league and see what it would take to take him off their hands.

Rex Burkhead / James Wilder

Neither player has any value in fantasy leagues and will make their game day contribution on special teams. It’s possible Burkhead could find himself in short yardage situations if Hill were to go down but he would be a less than inspiring fantasy play.

Wide Receivers

A.J. Green

Much like Dalton, Green had his worst statistical season of his career in 2014. His early season was hampered with a lingering turf toe injury which eventually led to him missing three games. He then suffered an arm injury during the Monday night game against Denver in week 15 and finally suffering a concussion in the final regular season game against the Steelers and ultimately missing the playoff game against the Colts.

Even battling injury throughout the season and the Bengals offense transitioning, Green remained an effective fantasy wide receiver on a per game basis. Like most top wide receivers, there were a couple of clunkers along the way but he was as explosive as ever. He had a four game stretch from weeks 11 through 14 where he was fantasy’s WR2, behind only Julio Jones and just ahead of all-world Odell Beckham, Jr.

Green did nothing to lower his dynasty value in 2014. Turf toe has derailed many fantasy seasons over the years and the arm and concussion injuries cannot be predicted as they’re fluky in nature. Even in a scaled back passing attack void of viable alternate options, Green maintained an elite level of play. And although he may be joined by newcomer wide receivers in a suddenly crowded top tier, it speaks more to the players raising their level of play as opposed to Green falling off.

Mohamed Sanu

Sanu is an interesting player. He doesn’t do anything great but he does just about everything well, including throw the ball. He’s a weekly lottery ticket in seasonal leagues but a phenomenal asset in best ball leagues. His breakouts are unpredictable and much rarer than his more common uninspiring games. Even though he set career highs across the board with 56 catches, 790 yards receiving and five touchdowns, he was a drive killer just as often. His 14 dropped passes led the league even though he ranked just 45th in targets and was stretched very thin as an NFL WR2. His game is exploiting weaknesses via gimmick plays like wide receiver passes, end arounds and the occasion deep ball. His inability to separate and run crisp routes will keep him from ever being more than what we’re seeing. You’ve probably already missed your window to sell high. His value will plummet once Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert return.

Marvin Jones

A season of bad luck wrapped in disappointment, Jones was snake bitten every time he turned around. A potential breakout candidate leading up to the 2014 season, Jones missed the entire off-season with an ankle injury with what was described at the time as “nothing to worry about”. When he finally returned to the practice field he broke his foot and required a screw being inserted. He then re-injured his ankle and ultimately landed on injured reserve without ever playing a snap. Barring a free agent signing or a mid-to-high draft pick at wide receiver, Jones should immediately regain his WR2 role across from Green assuming he can stay healthy longer than five minutes. What sort of value that represents remains to be seen.

James Wright

Beyond Green, Sanu and Jones, James Wright is the only other viable fantasy option in this group of wide receivers. He played his ball at LSU behind Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry and was selected in the seventh round of last year’s draft. Drafted primarily as a special teams player with an eye on replacing Brandon Tate, Wright worked his way up the depth chart as high as the WR3. He’s only a player to know if you’re in very, very deep leagues.

Tight Ends

Tyler Eifert

Eifert entered the 2014 season as a prime breakout candidate in Hue Jackson’s offense but that lasted all of one half of one game. He caught all three of his targets for 37 yards before dislocating his elbow and spending the rest of the season on injured reserve. He also underwent shoulder surgery while he was at it. Of all the pass catchers vying for scraps behind A.J. Green, it’s Eifert who will most likely make the biggest impact. A 6’6”, 250 vacuum from Notre Dame, he will provide the mid-range weapon to perfectly complement the downfield ability of Green and the underneath routes of Gio Bernard. One area Eifert will far outperform his predecessor is his after the catch ability. He’ll be a hot name this upcoming season and should be selected in the TE5-TE8 range with Jermaine Gresham not expected back.

Jermaine Gresham

Gresham was never able to translate his collegiate dominance to the NFL game. He was Sam Bradford’s security blanket at Oklahoma and at times was downright dominant. In the pros he was just a middle of the pack fantasy option at a position needing studs. He’s only topped 600 yards in a season once while averaging 56 catches and just fewer than five touchdowns per year in his five year career. Now a free agent, he’ll most likely move on from the Queen City. Barring a very favorable landing spot, his value will struggle to go anywhere but down.

Kevin Brock / Jake Murphy

Look for the Bengals to draft another tight end this year or sign a run blocker to complement the pass catching of Eifert. Neither of these players warrant fantasy consideration.

Follow me on Twitter @OlingerIDP.


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