Updated: Aug 16, 2020
Going into 2019, everyone had the Miami Dolphins were expected to be the worst team in football. That crown went to the Cincinnati Bengals who started the season 0-11 and finished 2-14. Those 2 wins came against the New York Jets and the Cleveland Browns. One of the reasons the Bengals were so bad was their terrible defense. They had the 29th ranked total defense, 21st ranked pass defense, 32nd ranked rush defense, and the 25th ranked scoring defense. The Bengals were also ranked 29th in the league with a -14 turnover margin. The Bengals had the 1st pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and selected the obvious pick, Joe Burrow. He will slide right into the starting quarterback position with Andy Dalton now on the Cowboys. Tee Higgins was also taken as the first pick in the second round and should give the Bengals depth at receiver. Expect the Bengals to improve in 2020, but they will still not be a 0.500 team because of their defense that looks very similar to what it was in 2019.
Projected Depth Chart:
Quarterback: 1. Joe Burrow 2. Ryan Finley
Running back: 1. Joe Mixon 2. Giovani Bernard
Wide receiver: 1. AJ Green 2. Tyler Boyd 3. Tee Higgins 4. Alex Erickson
Slot receiver: 1. John Ross 2. Auden Tate
Tight end: 1. C.J. Uzomah 2. Drew Sample
Quarterbacks - A big reason why the Bengals were so bad last year was their quarterback situation. Andy Dalton played in 13 games and had a 59.5 completion percentage, 16 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. Rookie Ryan Finley played in the other 3 and had a 47.1 completion percentage, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. The two combined for 3968 yards on 57.7% completion, 18 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions.
Andy Dalton was the better of the two quarterbacks in 2019. He passed for 3494 yards on 59.5% completion, 20 total touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. Dalton scored 203.66 fantasy points and finished as the QB25. Dalton only had over 20 points in 2 of his 13 games, over 18 points in 6 games, and over 16 in 8 games. Dalton was a good plug and play quarterback off the waiver wire in 2019 who could get 16+ fantasy points in most weeks.
Andy Dalton is gone and 1st overall pick Joe Burrow is going to slide right into the starting quarterback position. If the combination of Andy Dalton and Ryan Finley can combine for 3968 passing yards without AJ Green, Burrow can get at least 4000. While he will probably turn the ball over a decent amount of times, he will still have a breakout season in 2020.
Running backs - Joe Mixon has been getting by far the most touches at the running back position over the last 2 years. In 2018, he had 237 carries for 1168 yards and 8 touchdowns on the ground with 43 receptions on 55 targets for 296 yards and 1 touchdown through the air. Mixon finished with 243.3 fantasy points and as the RB10. Mixon had a breakout year as he surpassed Giovani Bernard on the depth chart.
In 2019, Mixon had 278 carries for 1137 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground with 35 receptions on 45 targets for 287 yards and 3 touchdowns. He finished as the RB13 with 225.4 fantasy points. The Cincinnati Bengals finished last in the NFL with only 28 touchdowns in 2019, and Mixon accounted for 28.6% of those. He was a tale of 2 halves last year as he had 10 fantasy points per game from weeks 1-8 and 18.2 fantasy points in the second half of the season.
Joe Mixon is being drafted in the early second round in 2020. There are mixed opinions on him and because of those, I think that is good value for him. Some people think Mixon will have a breakout year due to the improved quarterback play of Joe Burrow. Others believe Mixon has a ceiling of 10 total touchdowns and won't eclipse that. I am more on the side of the Mixon believers as he had 28.6% of the Bengals' touchdowns. If the Bengals finish with 40 touchdowns in 2020 and Mixon accounts for 28.6% of those again, that is 11.5 touchdowns. That is in addition to more red zone attempts with a better offense.
Wide receivers - The Cincinnati Bengals mainly used Tyler Boyd in the 2019 season as the #1 receiver. He finished with 90 receptions on 147 targets, 1046 yards, and 5 touchdowns. This was good for 222.9 fantasy points and the RB18. Even though he finished with 7 or more targets in all but 3 games, Boyd was still pretty boom or bust. Boyd had 4 games with less than 10 fantasy points and 3 games with over 20. He only had over 15 points in 5 games.
Auden Tate, John Ross, and Alex Erickson all had between 90-105 fantasy points in 2019. Auden Tate played in 12 games and finished with 40 receptions on 80 targets for 575 yards and 1 touchdown. If he played in 16 games and kept his pace, he would've had 135.3 fantasy points. Alex Erickson played in all 16 games and finished with 43 receptions on 78 targets for 529 yards. John Ross only played 8 games and finished with 28 receptions on 56 targets for 506 yards and 3 touchdowns. If he played in all 16 games and kept his pace, he would've had 190 fantasy points.
A.J. Green is back in 2020 and is somehow going in the 5th-6th round. He is a huge sleeper and a bounce-back candidate that I would love on my bench as my WR3. Tyler Boyd is going at the same time and he will bust this season. He is not getting 147 targets and will regress because of it. John Ross is going for free and I am avoiding him because of injuries. Tee Higgins is a great handcuff and deep sleeper because of his rapport with Joe Burrow.
Tight ends - Tyler Eifert was the top tight end for the Bengals in 2019 and people were still drafting him because of his pinnacle year in 2015. He finished with 43 receptions on 63 targets for 436 yards and 3 touchdowns. This was good for 106.6 fantasy points and the TE19. His best game came against the Miami Dolphins in Week 16 with 4 receptions, 57 yards, and 1 touchdown.
C.J. Uzomah was the backup tight end was not owned in very many fantasy leagues. He finished with 27 receptions on 40 targets for 242 yards and 2 touchdowns. Uzomah finished with 63.2 fantasy points and as the TE40. Like Tyler Eifert, his best game came against the Miami Dolphins in Week 16 with 4 receptions for 37 yards and 1 touchdown.
Tyler Eifert is gone and C.J. Uzomah is going to be the starting tight end. If you combine his and Tyler Eifert's stats in 2019, you get 70 receptions on 103 targets for 678 yards and 3 touchdowns. I would say this is the ceiling for Uzomah in 2020. The receptions are very unrealistic with the additions of AJ Green and Tee Higgins but I can see the yards and touchdowns. Uzomah is going for free in almost every league and there are tight ends I would rather have.
Breakout: Joe Burrow
Good Value: Joe Mixon
Bust: Tyler Boyd
Bounce Back: AJ Green
Players to Avoid: C.J. Uzomah (Volume) and John Ross (Injuries)
Deep Sleeper: Tee Higgins
Handcuffs: Ryan Finley, Giovani Bernard, Tee Higgins, Drew Sample
I hope you liked Fantasy Previews Part 7: Cincinnati Bengals. Next up is Fantasy Previews Part 8: Cleveland Browns. Feel free to comment your thoughts on the Bengals' offense for fantasy 2020.