The Bengals were one of the surprises in the NFL last season. They made the playoffs and lost to the TJ Yates-led Texans, but to many Bengals’ fans, it was a successful year.
We all got to see a young Andy Dalton take control of an offense that many thought would put up miserable numbers. His favorite target last year, rookie AJ Green, could have won Rookie of the Year in almost any other season, but unfortunately for him, there was a guy in Charlotte that transformed the way we look at rookies in the NFL.
The 2012 Bengals look to continue their success from last season. With a talented, young offense, are we ready to start drafting the some of the guys in the ‘Nati?
The one player on the Bengals that should be highly valued is…
AJ Green. We saw what he was made of last year, as he snagged 65 catches for over 1,000 yards and 7 touchdowns. He finished as the 14th best wide receiver with 153 points, but he did that in 15 games. And one of those games he got hurt during it.
The reason we should value AJ Green high is because he’s one of three rookie wide receivers to finish in the top-15 at the position since 2006. The other guys, Mike Williams and Marques Colston, weren’t drafted with the thought that they’d be top wide receivers. AJ Green was.
His talent is just as good as anyone in the league, and he’s a season deeper into his young career. With Andy Dalton hoping to throw the ball downfield a little more, I expect AJ Green to become a possible top-5 wide receiver this year.
A guy I’m not so high on is…
BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Last season, he averaged 3.7 yards per carry in New England. And that’s on a team that threw the ball more than all but two teams last year.
Numbers have shown that he’s not typically a good runner when defenses stack the box. And that scares me because it’s not as though Andy Dalton is Tom Brady. Moreover, it’s not like the Bengals have multiple receiving threats to spread the field.
Green-Ellis also isn’t a guy that can catch the ball out of the backfield. He had 9 receptions last year, and the year before that he caught 12.
The biggest reason Green-Ellis has been a decent fantasy play over the last two seasons is because he’s converted 18 of his 24 goal-line attempts. Do you think the Bengals will have as many opportunities as the Patriots? And do you really think that the Bengals’ defense will surrender leads like the Patriots’ have the last two years?
Stay away from The Law Firm. He doesn’t have fifth round value.
Although talented, one player that may not be worth drafting is…
Jermaine Gresham. It’s not as though I think he’s bad, it’s that his ceiling isn’t as high as other tight ends. Let me explain.
He was just shy of 600 yards last year, and the Bengals offense hasn’t changed drastically enough for me to say that he could get close to, say, 800 or 900 yards this year. When you look at other players going off the board when he is, you see immense upside.
Jacob Tamme is with Peyton Manning again. Coby Fleener could easily be the number two option for a rookie quarterback in Indy. Lance Kendricks is now in an offense that is super favorable for tight ends. Brent Celek scored just as many points as Vernon Davis last year, and finished his season very strong. Brandon Pettigrew is in an offense that throws more than anyone in the league, and caught 80 balls last season.
Gresham is a part of that group of guys, but I just don’t see him having the same kind of upside. When you’re trying to get a tight end late that can start, you’re trying to get one with upside that can compete with the top guys in the league. I don’t think Gresham, from a fantasy standpoint, is there yet.
The one word to describe the 2012 Bengals is…
Close. They had a very favorable schedule last year, and we’ll see what they’re made of this season.
Andy Dalton is a solid quarterback with one of the best weapons in the NFL in AJ Green. New running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis appears to be a better goal line back than Cedric Benson, but he’s not as good of a runner between the 20’s. And Jermaine Gresham, a mighty talented tight end, just doesn’t seem to fit the mold of a player that can make a giant jump from a fantasy standpoint.
For the most part, the Bengals’ offense is average from a personnel standpoint. That’s why AJ Green seems to be the only reasonable player to draft in 2012.