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Should You Draft Him?: Cincinnati Bengals

Fantasy football drafting is made out to be much more complicated than it actually is. There are websites and magazines filled with hundreds of pages of analysis and conjecture, and so-called experts make a tidy living talking about what essentially amounts to selecting 16 guys from a limited pool where your decisions are largely guided by draft order, and then picking nine of them once a week for 14 weeks. Some of the more pretentious fantasy football writers will even share their draft day philosophy, which seems to be hilariously insulting to the noble study of philosophy until you realize that spending long hours thinking about fantasy football is as equally productive as majoring in philosophy.

Of course fantasy football becomes much more complex when you actually get into the season, where playing the waiver wire and absolutely robbing your less intelligent friends in one-sided trades are the keys to success. Obviously it’s impossible to give waiver wire tips in July, and tips on how to exploit and humiliate the good-natured people you love in front of their peers in the name of winning $50 and earning petty bragging rights is the kind of sociopathic tendency that only years of familial abuse can teach.

But before that point, there’s no reason to make fantasy football more complicated than it is. That’s why this series of articles exists. Rather than giving scouting reports without a clear resolution, I intend to look at what a player brings to the table, determine if they are worth drafting at their present average draft position (ADP), and give a hard ‘yes or no’ on whether you should take him. Try as you might to break the trend, your fantasy draft will be largely influenced by the ADP-based suggested autodraft picks. The aim here is to tell you if you should ignore a guy when he’s at the top of your suggestion box.

It’s inevitable that next January we’ll look back and laugh about how hilariously wrong most of this is, but if I enjoy writing it, and if you enjoy reading it, it’s all good. Let’s start with the offensive skill players who play their home games in the filthy economic wasteland known as Cincinnati. It doesn’t really mitigate the hell of living in a city that believes dumping salty beef paste onto a hot dog counts as a local delicacy, but Bengals fans do have an extremely exciting crop of young offensive talent with significant fantasy appeal.

(Draft positions are based on a composite of the results of standard scoring 12-team drafts on fantasyfootballcalculator.com. Players with added or decreased points per reception appeal will be noted. Kickers and defenses will always be ignored because they are kickers and defenses.)

Andy Dalton (ADP – Round 10):
This is a player with thoroughly average physical traits and questionable pocket composure with the second-most talented wide receiver on the planet, a tight end in Jermaine Gresham who has made the Pro Bowl in his last two seasons, another extremely talented tight end in Tyler Eifert, and a potentially legitimate No. 2 receiving threat in Mohamed Sanu. He’s being drafted as a high end backup, and as a young guy with potential to improve and a quality supporting cast, that sounds about right. The unimpressive physicality and the quality of AFC North pass defenses cap his upside, but he’s a worthy bench stash at his ADP.


Should you draft him?
YES

BenJarvus Green-Ellis (ADP – Round 7):
Some people view Green-Ellis and his new teammate Giovani Bernard as a Doug Martin/LeGarrette Blount rerun in the making, but there are some very important differences. Green-Ellis possesses solid pass blocking skills, he’s good in short yardage, he isn’t lazy, and his team has a financial commitment to him, while Blount represented the exact opposite of all of those things. Even if Bernard impresses out of the gate, it’s very unlikely that Green-Ellis will fail to have a significant role. That being said, I just don’t see a great deal of upside here. He doesn’t catch passes, he’s a plodder, and you won’t see another starting back with less big play potential. Last season he was a low-end RB2 when he had no serious competition for carries. I don’t advocate filling a draft with lots of high upside gambles, but I want the players I draft to at least be capable of outperforming their draft position. Green-Ellis’ upside is hurt even more if you’re in a points-per-reception league, because the receiving skills aren’t there, and coaches have already said that Bernard is the guy on passing downs.

Should you draft him?
NO


Giovani Bernard (ADP – Round 6):

It’s easy to crave the stability and assured workload of Green-Ellis, but teams don’t invest second-round picks on offensive skill players that they intend to keep on the bench. For reasons stated above, don’t expect Bernard to completely supplant the incumbent starter and go all Doug Martin on the AFC North, but this kid is way too talented to stay on the bench for long. Because of his similar draft position and much higher ceiling, he’s the Cincinnati running back to own. His upside is capped somewhat because Green-Ellis is still a more ideal inside rusher and goal line back, but, at worst, Bernard will be a disappointing fantasy producer who nonetheless breaks off the occasional big play, and at best he’s a top-15 player at the position. I have no problem risking a sixth-rounder on that.

Should you draft him?
YES


A.J. Green (ADP – No. 14 Overall):
Last year he was the No. 4 fantasy receiver in only his second season. The term “third-year breakout” was coined because the third season is generally regarded as the point where NFL receivers fully grasp the skills of their job and capitalize on their physicality. If Green can go for 1,350 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns with only a half-baked understanding of his job, this third year will be terrifying. It would be nice if Andy Dalton had a stronger arm, but we’re really splitting hairs here. Green is more than worthy of being the No. 2 wide receiver off the board, and he’s a worthwhile early second-round investment. Other players with roughly the same draft position as Green include 30-year old Steven Jackson, upside challenged Matt ForteDez Bryant, and Chris Johnson. You won’t find a better combination of assured production and limitless upside early in Round 2.

Should you draft him?
YES


Mohamed Sanu (ADP – 16th Round

): The best thing you can say about Sanu is that he’s guaranteed to see nothing but single coverage because he’s got that other dude getting attention. He’s versatile and has good hands, but he’s also very slow. It doesn’t feel like a ringing endorsement when the best I have to say about him is that he has a really awesome teammate. When your No. 1 wide receiver is a force of nature, you’re very young, you don’t have an overly impressive skill set, and your offense isn’t terribly pass heavy in the first place, I just don’t see the potential to be a reliable fantasy starter. I guess it’s technically possible that he could prove to be a reliable play, especially in PPR leagues, but I see his ceiling as a solid injury or bye week fill-in. Guys like him are why the waiver wire exists.

Should you draft him?
NO

Tyler Eifert/Jermaine Gresham (ADP – 14th round for both):
Gresham is a solid receiving tight end as evidenced by his No. 11 fantasy ranking last season. The fact that the Bengals used their first-round pick on Tyler Eifert can either be interpreted as an indictment of Gresham’s awful blocking skills or a desire to run lots of two tight end sets and be a latter day Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez with less drama. Either way, you’ve got two talented players cannibalizing their respective fantasy values. A star could emerge, but it’s best to leave them on waivers for the time being.

Should you draft him? 
NO


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FantasySharks.com began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.