Every year we give our premium content members a team-by-team, player-by-player look at the NFL season that was. The coverage will be in-depth, but because the Dynasty Capsule series begins immediately after the season, we won’t use it to discuss free agency or the draft. Come see us in early May once Mr. Irrelevant is off the board for another 32-article series giving you the same detailed discussion you’ll see below.
Buckle up dynasty fans, because you’re about to be reminded why our motto is, “There is no off-season.”
The Marvin Lewis-Andy Dalton era will live on in Cincinnati as the couple will enter 2018 together as head coach and starting quarterback. Dalton had an erratic start to the 2017 season, losing his first two games and failing to score even a single touchdown. Following the firing of offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after week two, Dalton’s season took an upswing. Over the next ten games, he completed 63.2% of his passes for 20 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions (5-5 record).
Dalton is the QB27 in the latest DLF Dynasty ADP, and his 224.67 overall ADP makes him a 19th-round dynasty startup pick. It’s pretty apparent that we already know who Dalton is as a fantasy asset. He finished the season as the QB17 overall on a struggling team with the worst offensive line in the league. It can’t be forgotten that Dalton was a legitimate MVP candidate in 2015 (where he was overall QB4 through 12 games), and he finished as QB11 in 2016.
A full off-season with OC Bill Lazor is just what the doctor ordered for not just Dalton but the entire offense. With some offensive line upgrades and a full off-season in Lazor’s system, Dalton will be the main beneficiary from all of the playmakers in his arsenal. The price tag has never been cheaper for this quarterback who can give you instant value and potential for another QB1 season.
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McCarron was all set to be sent to the Browns at the trade deadline when Cleveland failed to send the paperwork in time. His already weird situation hasn’t stopped there. He is now in a contract dispute with the Bengals over whether he will be a free agent or an unrestricted free agent. McCarron has a grievance hearing scheduled for February 15th where an independent arbitrator will decide his fate. If he remains restricted, Cincinnati will have the ability to franchise tag him or place a first-round tender on him. If he becomes an unrestricted free agent, he will most likely be signed somewhere else to compete as the starter.
A former sixth-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers, Driskel would likely be the backup to Dalton if McCarron leaves. As a high school senior in 2010, Driskel was ranked as the best pro-style quarterback in his class and was a five-star quarterback according to 247sports.
Considered to be the best running back in the 2017 draft class by many NFL scouts, Mixon was drafted in the second round (pick 48), the fourth running back selected. He certainly had some shining moments as a rookie but was overall a bust for many fantasy managers for much of the season.
Beginning the season behind Jeremy Hill, Mixon played in a timeshare backfield and only averaged 12 rushes through the first seven games. Once finally gaining control of the backfield, Mixon was the RB8 from week nine to week 12 before being knocked out with an injury. Cincinnati’s offensive line struggled mightily in the running game, forcing him to produce one of the higher yards after contact stats in the league. He currently has an ADP of 25.33 despite his below average start, making him an early third round startup pick. With Cincinnati looking to upgrade their offensive line in the draft, I expect Mixon’s value to rise into the second round as the season approaches.
Bernard looked like the best running back on the roster most of the time in 2017, regaining all of his quickness and lateral agility that was lost to a torn ACL in 2016. Bernard is under contract through 2019 and will remain the third-down back behind Mixon. His current ADP is 117.17, and he has shown that he can be a legitimate PPR play when given the opportunity. Bernard averaged 14.6 fantasy points per game in the near three games that Mixon missed due to injury.
There is nothing to see here with Hill. He will be a free agent in 2018 and will likely sign somewhere else where he can compete for a starting gig. After rushing for 1000-plus yards as a rookie, Hill has been on a steady slope downward in production and may never see much fantasy relevance again.
Green was once again the man in Cincinnati catching 75 passes for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns. The steadiest producer in the Marvin Lewis era, Green will turn 30 when the season starts and will once again be Andy Dalton’s favorite weapon. His ADP is at its lowest point on DLF, currently putting him at 18.00 as of January 2018. Despite his sometimes anemic offense, Green is still producing consistent results. He is a low-end WR1 season in and season out.
LaFell signed a two-year contract to return to Cincinnati in 2017 for a chance to compete for the WR2 spot behind Green with Tyler Boyd and John Ross. LaFell has exceeded expectations, registering 89-plus targets in both of his seasons with the team. It leaves many to wonder whether LaFell has actually been that good, or has Boyd and Ross both been disappointments early in their respective careers.
Boyd is a former second-rounder who has yet to show that he can put it all together. He missed most of 2017 with injury and was a healthy scratch in some games. Boyd has a 189.50 ADP and is worth a deep roster stash if you are betting on his second-round draft pedigree.
The number nine overall pick in the 2017 draft was probably the biggest disappointment of the entire class. Playing in just three games, Ross only touched the ball once on a rush attempt that ended in a fumble. Ross was a healthy scratch for most of the second-half games last year leading many to believe he was in Marvin Lewis’ doghouse. If Lewis were smart, he would get the speedster on the field and see what he can do in 2018. Ross still has an ADP 119.83 (tenth round) and given his top ten draft selection history, we can hope Lewis will get Ross on the field.
At 6’3” and 207 pounds, Core has good size and even saw a little work with the first-team offense in the preseason. He played in 13 games last year, mostly on special teams, and only registered four targets. Core is not worth a roster spot in a dynasty league.
Malone played okay in limited playing time filling in for Boyd and Ross. The 2017 fourth-rounder started seven games for Cincinnati and accumulated 17 targets, hauling in six of those for 63 yards and a touchdown. Malone could see his role improve to the WR4 by seasons end, and is worth keeping an eye on but not rostering yet.
When healthy, Eifert is one of the premier red zone targets in the league. Eifert hauled in 13 touchdowns in 2015 despite only playing in 13 games. He is notorious for his injury history though. He’s played more than 13 games only twice in his five-year career and has never completed a full season. He will be a free agent in 2018, and Marvin Lewis has stated that he would like to keep Eifert in Cincinnati. Eifert currently has an ADP of 143.33, which is a healthy fall from his ADP of 28.83 in February 2016. This fall is likely due to the fact that Eifert can’t stay on the field and give his dynasty owners a good return on their investment.
Kroft started all 16 games in 2017 and did his best impression of Tyler Eifert. He caught 42 passes for seven touchdowns and he finished as the TE16 on the year. Kroft will remain in Cincinnati through 2018 and could have some fantasy value moving forward if the Bengals move on from Eifert.
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