Team Profiles- Cincinnati Bengals by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles
Marvin Lewis has been the head coach for the Cincinnati Bengals since 2003, making him the 2nd longest tenured head coach in the NFL, behind only NE Bill Belichick. The Bengals battled the Colts 26-10 in the first round of the playoffs, losing 26-10. This was the Bengals fourth straight lose in the playoffs. I guess you could call them the “Buffalo Bills’ of the playoffs. (Between 1991 and 1994, Buffalo reached the Superbowl 4 straight times, and lost 4 straight times.) Lewis has a record of 40-23 over the past 4 years, so unlike HC John Fox, he won’t lose his job for not winning the Superbowl.
2015 Team Outlook – Every year the Bengals have to contend with the Steelers and the Ravens in the AFC North. All three of these teams ended the 2014 season over .500, and all went the playoffs. (The Ravens beat the Steelers in Week 1 of this playoffs, but lost the Patriots in Week 2.) Both the Steelers and Ravens have quarterbacks that have won a Superbowl, so this will again be a very competitive division in 2015. (Oh, the Browns are in the AFC North as well.)
2015 Fantasy Outlook –
QB– The Bengals starting quarterback is Andy Dalton, and he reminds me of Scott Mitchell, from the Detroit Lions QB -1994 to 1997. Detroit’s big receiver at the time was WR Herman Moore, and Mitchell would lock in on Moore, waiting for him to get open. When the opposing defense came crashing in around around him, he’d let the ball fly, usually with disastrous results. Dalton ended the 2014 season with 19 TDs and 17 INTs, worst in the NFL for a starting QB. Dalton locks in on big Cincinnati receiver A J Green every game, usually with disastrous results. It’s one of the reasons no other receiver in Cincinnati can make a name for himself. In 2014, The Browns really had Dalton’s number! In Week 10, he went 10 of 33 for only 86 yards, 0 TDs and 3 INTs. In Week 15, Dalton went 14 of 24 for only 117 yards, 0 TDs and 1 INT. Although there are plenty of teams in the NFL with worst quarterback situations, the Bengals will never go far with with Dalton. Fantasy owners won’t go far with him either.
RBs– The Bengals have one of the best one-two punch running back combos in the league. Prior to the 2014 season, RB Gio Bernard was touted as “the main running back threat” in Cincinnati. Rookie RB Jeremy Hill however, drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, wasn’t going to let any opportunity slip away, and he ended the 2014 season as the 9th ranked running back in the league. Hill totaled 1376 yards from scrimmaged and scored 10 TDs. RB Gio Bernard also had an impressive year, ranking 18th among RBs, with 1081 total yard and scoring 7 TDs. This young dynamic duo will be fun to watch in 2015.
WRs– As previously mentioned, the wide receiver that Dalton can’t help but lock in on every game is 6’4″ WR A J Green, drafted by the Bengals fourth overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. In Green’s rookie season, he recorded four 100-yard games and led all NFL rookies in receptions and receiving yards, catching 65 passes for 1,057 yards in 15 games. His seven touchdown receptions was second among rookies. Unfortunately WR Green was injured for most of the 2014, missing 4 of the 16 regular season match ups, and played at less than 100% for the entire second half. He ended the season ranked #23 among wide receivers with 1041 receiving yards and 6 TDs. One of the wide receivers ignored in Cincy’s offense is WR Mohamed Sanu, who ended the 2014 season with 821 yards and 5 TDs. Even these meager stats were skewed in large part because Dalton had to throw to someone in WR Green’s absence. 2 of WR Sanu’s 5 TDs, came in games in which WR Green had to sit out. Sanu’s other 3 TDs came in games in which WR Green was active, but not productive due to a concussion he suffered, or a bicep injury Green sustained late in the season. WR Marvin Jones is listed as the Bengals #2 wide receiver, but he’s only played in 11 games since 2012. UPDATE: Re-signed WR Brandon Tate and sign former Raider WR Denarius Moore.
TEs– The only TE offense weapon listed on the Bengals roster right now is Tyler Eifert, because Jermaine Gresham is currently a free agent. Neither is a weapon really, because they too are not involved enough in the offense. TE Gresham’s best game in 2014 came in Week 11 vs the Saints, where he had 13 yards and 2 TDs. Eifert missed almost the entire 2014 season from a week one injury.
K– Mike Nugent has been the Bengals place kicker since 2010. In 2014, he only knocked in 27 of his 34 field goal attempts, and 5 of those came in one game (week one). He’s a terrible option for fantasy owners. Cincinnati may try to replace him, as Nugent is a free agent this year.
DEF– Cincinnati usually puts a pretty strong defense on the field every year, but in 2014 they ranked #14. (They were the 5th ranked defense in 2013) Linebacker struggles played a big role in Cincinnati’s 2014 weakness versus the run and Cincinnati ranked dead last in sacks.) They will try to find help in this years draft. UPDATE: Bengals sign former GB LB A J Hawk. Sign CB Brandon Ghee and DT Pat Sims to 1 year deals.
2014 Cincinnati Fantasy Surprises – Despite QB Dalton’s erratic and poor play in 2014, he still managed to rank #18 among starting QBs. He basically beat out QB Alex Smith and a handful of rookie or back up quarterbacks in the NFL. RB Jeremy Hill was a pleasant surprise as a 2nd round drafted rookie, and should rank in the top 10 again in 2015.
2015 Free Agents that Cincinnati Needs to Address – QB Jason Campbell- RB Cedric Peerman (re-signed)- TE Jermaine Gresham-WR Dane Sanzenbacher- OT Eric Winston- OT Marshall Newhouse-G Clint Boling (re-signed)- MLB Rey Maualuga (re-signed)- CB Terence Newman-S Taylor Mays- CB Chris Lewis-Harris (re-signed)- K Mike Nugent (re-signed)
2015 NFL Draft – The early needs of Cincinnati are help on the front seven, a stronger pass-rush, getting a strong back-up QB for Dalton and help at the wide receiver position. The Bengals struggled mightily against the run last season (LB) and they couldn’t sack anyone (DL). All 3 wide receivers mentioned earlier are in contract years, and only WR A J Green is assured a roster spot in the future (WR). UPDATE: Cincinnati’s’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- CINCINNATI’S DRAFT
Did You Know – that the franchise takes its name from an earlier Cincinnati Bengals team, which played from 1937–1941? The Bengals are one of the 13 NFL teams that have never won a Superbowl. Also, did you know that the team’s cheerleading squad is known as the “Ben-Gals’?
Team home page: www.bengals.com