The Bengals haven’t been a good team for quite some time, but they are trying to turn it around the last few years by overhauling their offense. Only AJ Green and Gio Bernard were viable fantasy assets for a long time, but players like Joe Mixon and Tyler Boyd have stepped up over the last few years. In 2020 the Bengals added QB Joe Burrow and WR Tee Higgins and continued adding in 2021 by drafting Ja’Marr Chase, who played with Burrow at LSU. With a lackluster defense, the Bengals’ offense will need to keep up somehow, and now have the weapons to do so. Let’s take a look at notable Bengals’ fantasy options.
Joe Burrow came off a red-hot college season that allowed him to be drafted 1 st overall in 2020. Burrow started immediately for the Bengals, leading them to a disappointing 2-7-1 record before his season ended with a gruesome knee injury. Burrow finished his season with 2688 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. He rushed for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns as well. Burrow looked like a rookie at most times in 2020, and if you ever had to start him in fantasy he was a major disappointment most weeks. He averaged only 1 touchdown a game and seemed to either go over 300 yards (that’s good) or under 225 (ew), so his consistency was lacking.
In the offseason, the Bengals did sign tackle Riley Reiff and drafted Jonah Williams in the 2 nd round, so hopefully, the offensive line is much better this season.
Heading into the 2021 season, Burrow is still recovering from his destroyed knee, so he is a very risky QB to draft. His mobility will probably be limited for the first few weeks, so it’ll be difficult for him to escape pressure or scramble. That said, Burrow has the athleticism to perform well in the pocket, and the addition of former teammate Ja’Marr Chase should help Burrow’s confidence and overall chemistry with his receivers.
Burrow is currently being drafted at the 8.12 spot in 12-team PPR drafts and is the 12 th QB off the board. He is going before Ryan Tannehill, which to me seems odd after Tannehill got a massive upgrade with Julio Jones. Coming off a massive knee injury and still being relatively unproven, I probably will not take a shot at Burrow unless he falls to double-digit rounds. Even then I’d have a backup QB in mind just in case.
If Burrow stays healthy, I believe he has the ability to reach 4500 yards (his trajectory in 2020 would have had him hit 4300 yards in 16 games), however, the touchdowns need to improve a lot if he is going to make you a happy fantasy player. A guy who throws 20 touchdowns and doesn’t give you points in the run game is not going to win you a championship.
Joe Mixon also saw his season cut short in 2020, missing the rest of the season after a foot sprain in Week 6. Mixon managed to rack up 428 yards and 3 touchdowns in those 6 games, so he most likely would have hit his 3 rd 1000-yard season in a row had he not gone down with an injury.
In the offseason, the Bengals parted ways with receiving back Gio Bernard and added a few players in the draft. The most notable was Chris Evans (Michigan), who they took in the 6 th round. That says a lot about the trust they have in Mixon, and it seems like he will now have a stranglehold on the backfield.
Mixon should easily eclipse 1000 yards this season, and you can probably add career highs in receiving yards and touchdowns thanks to the departure of Bernard. Mixon is primed to be a top 10 back and has the chance to get into the top 5. An improved offensive line and healthy Joe Burrow should help him as well.
Currently, Mixon is going in the middle of round 2 and is the 13 th RB off the board. I think that is a very good value for a back that easily could outperform his ADP.
Not a single Bengals’ receiver hit the 1000 yard mark in 2020, which isn’t that crazy when you have Brandon Allen and Ryan Finley throwing you the ball. The receivers were led by rookie Tee Higgins, who caught 67 passes for 908 yards and 6 touchdowns. He was followed by Tyler Boyd (79 catches for 841 yards and 4 touchdowns) and AJ Green (47 catches for 523 yards and 2 touchdowns). All three receivers were targeted over 100 times, so it was pretty evenly split.
In the offseason, AJ Green finally divorced the Bengals (good for both parties after all the drama we saw) and the Bengals added dynamic LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase in the 1 st round of the 2021 draft. Chase played with Burrow at LSU, so the two should have some solid chemistry already.
The 2021 season is looking very good for Bengals’ receivers, and Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins will be popular fantasy picks in drafts. Right now Ja’Marr Chase actually leads the Bengals’ WRs in ADP, being drafted at the 6.04 spot as the 27 th WR off the board. Right behind him is Tee Higgins at 6.11 as the 28 th WR off the board. Even Tyler Boyd isn’t too far behind, going at 8.01 as the 34 th WR. That says a lot about fantasy manager’s expectations for the Cincinnati offense. All three are very interesting options, although I believe Chase and Higgins will lead the receivers and Boyd will be a more distant 3 rd option. With the ADPs being so close, I’d rather grab Higgins first, followed by Chase and Boyd.
Higgins has a good shot at reaching 1000 yards and at least 10 touchdowns this season.
Chase is a bit of a mystery for now, since rookie WRs don’t always perform their first season (last season was a bit of an anomaly for rookie WRs), but I do believe he can hit 800 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Boyd will also get his, probably to the tune of 800 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Higgins is the sure bet here and will most likely make you happy. Chase is a high-risk, high-reward type of player that could pay huge dividends. And lastly, Boyd is a proven WR that will be a massive hit if Chase fails to impress.
There are no Bengal TEs currently being drafted in mock drafts, but it is worth mentioning that they do have C.J. Uzomah, who missed pretty much the entire 2020 season due to injury. He did have 11 targets total over the 2 games and caught 9 of them for 87 yards and 1 touchdown, so it appears as though he does have some usage with Joe Burrow. With Burrow probably having to stay put and throw the ball quickly, Uzomah could have a much better season than we think. He has shown glimpses of promise in the past but was always overshadowed by Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft. Uzomah probably won’t be drafted in most leagues, but he is worth a look at adding to your bench if you are a true Joe Burrow believer. I don’t expect him to be anywhere near a Waller/Kittle obviously, but if you like to wait super late for TEs he is an interesting one to look at. I mean in PPR leagues last season he scored 8.5 and 14.2 points, so even though it’s a small sample size he did perform decently for fantasy purposes.
Don’t bet on him finishing in the top 10 TEs, but he very well could hit the top 12-15 out of nowhere.
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