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Team Needs: OL, LB, DE
Projected Top Three Picks:
First Round- Haason Reddick, LB Temple
Second Round- Pat Elfein, C Ohio State
Third Round- Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE Villanova
The 2016 Bengals were a massive disappointment, whether it was in Fantasy or the NFL. A.J. Green was the lone bright spot from this offense, as Andy Dalton struggled mightily and went from potential sleeper quarterback to an afterthought to many owners. Then free agency hit, and it seemed as though the Bengals lost every offensive lineman they had. They brought back Andre Smith, but drafting linemen will be a huge priority for this team in 2017. If they don’t hit on these selections, expect another down year from this offense. But in Round 1, I have them going with another need in grabbing Haason Reddick to fill a void at linebacker and potentially getting the pass rusher that they lacked for much of 2016. Selecting Pat Elfein in the second round, will be the first piece to rebuild the offensive line corps and perhaps finding some consistency in the run game.
If this front office hits on the right players along the offensive line, it can only help the potential of running back duo, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. Both Hill and Bernard had down seasons, which ultimately finished with injuries to both players. Now they will look to bounce back, and for the importance of this offense, the Bengals need production from both running backs. With Hill pounding away between the tackles and Bernard catching the dump off passes out of the backfield, there is some potential to be had here. They have shown it before. Odds are that both these running backs will come at a discount in Fantasy Football drafts. Hill should be coming off the board as an RB3 but he is very touchdown dependent, and if he is not crossing the goal line regularly, then he is simply not worth owning. The real draw is Bernard. He has the passing game ability to pull in RB2 value in PPR formats and if he acquires more touches in the running game, he is the back to own between the two. Keep an eye on Bernard’s injury recovery during training camp. If he scares other owners off due to injury, you could swoop in for a late draft day steal.
This offense comes and goes with A.J. Green, and he can only perform well if Andy Dalton is truly on his game. Green is an elite WR who makes Dalton look a lot better that he really is, but he still hauls in incredible numbers despite the play at quarterback. Dalton needs to pick up his game just a little bit more and utilize the young talents in Tyler Eifert and Tyler Boyd. Eifert is a Top 5 tight end, if healthy, and that is the main question when it comes to him. He’s constantly banged up and missing time, which makes it hard to draft him in the spot where he typically comes off the board. He is the ultimate risk-reward player. Tyler Boyd was a sleeper wide receiver coming into his rookie campaign and could not live up to the hype. I was even seeing him drafted ahead of Michael Thomas is some drafts, which now seems crazy. But Boyd has the talent, he just has to take the next step in his progression. If he comes around, and alleviates some pressure with the coverage on Green, this offense could become explosive yet again. Boyd will again be a late round flier-type receiver in drafts, and if he hits, could potentially become a matchup play WR3 that you use here and there during the season.
Passing Offense- 246.4 YPG (15th)
Rushing Offense- 110.6 YPG (13th)
Points Per Game- 20.3 PPG (24th)
Top Fantasy Performers:
QB- Andy Dalton, 250 points
RB- Jeremy Hill, 147 points
WR- A.J. Green, 116 points