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Friday, August 23, 2013

Team Talk: Cincinnati Bengals

Team Talk continues!  Today we knock out half of the AFC North and talk Bengals and Browns. 

The AFC North has the defending champs and a lot of buzz this year, but to me it's one of the weakest divisions in the league.  The Steelers have really taken a step backwards in the talent department, as have the Ravens.  The Ravens frankly weren't so great last year, but they got hot at the right time and won it all.  But, that 10-6 team lost a ton of key contributors.

The Browns look dramatically better on paper, but until we see it on the field they have as much to prove as any team in the NFL.  The Bengals are, to me, the clear winner of this division.  Recent playoff appearances, proven coaching, studs on the top of the roster, and solid role players throughout.

That's my take, but let's have a look at what Adam Filadelfo has to say.  (Follow him on Twitter!  @Frostt24)

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If you've been watching HBO's "Hard Knocks", you know there is a buzz surrounding the Bengals. With a couple of rookies projected to make fantasy impacts this year, these cats could have more bite than roar.

Andy Dalton - Dalton has been exactly what the Bengals were hoping for when they drafted him out of TCU. As good as Dalton has been in his first two seasons as the Bengals signal caller, he has shown a penchant for disappearing in big moments. There have also been times had a wide open A.J Green and completely missed him. "The Red Rifle" isn't much more than your backup fantasy quarterback.

A.J. Green - Dubbed by some as "Minitron", A.J Green has impressed for both NFL and fantasy purposes in both his first two seasons. Any nickname that compares a receiver to Calvin Johnson must be something special. A.J. is being taken in the second tier of receivers (with Megatron being in a tier of his own) but it might not be too long before there's a debate over which receiver is first off the board. Megatron or Minitron?

BenJarvis Green-Ellis - "The Law Firm" as he's called due to all his names, still holds value to fantasy owners regardless of the presence of rookie back Giovani Bernard. Although Law Firm isn't quite as explosive like most lead backs, he can still get the job done. Don't give up on Green Ellis just yet due to Bernard. There's still gas left in the tank and Law Firm won't go away quietly. There's most likely equal splits coming between the two tailbacks.

Giovani Bernard - This rookie is already being anointed the lead back in Cincinnati. He should catch a ton of passes (which is the equivalent to finding gold in PPR leagues) and possesses  explosiveness that the Law Firm lacks. He's not going to capture the starter role just yet but if all reports are true, he very well could be running the show later in the season. Right now he could be drafted in middle rounds as your third running back but with strong potential as an RB2.

Tyler Eifert - Another rookie that could make some fantasy noise in 2013 is the tight end out of Notre Dame. He very well could surpass Jermaine Gresham as starting tight end at some point this season, but right now Eifert should not be counted on as your starting tight end every week. He should be drafted as your second tight end (if at all) until he proves he can be a fantasy producer week after week.

Jermaine Gresham - Gresham is still the man at tight end in Cincinnati. He's treated more as a receiver than a blocker but just hasn't quite gotten over that hump to become an elite fantasy star. He's being drafted in fantasy drafts with a pretty solid floor but no real upside at this point.

Mohamed Sanu - He's the reviewer playing opposite Green so you'd think he's see plenty of opportunities to be a significant fantasy star. With defense draped all over "Minitron", that should leave Sanu open quite a bit. If he can make the most of his targets from Dalton, he could be a sleeper for fantasy owners. You can get him very late in drafts, and if all goes well with Sanu you could have yourself a gem this season. The Bengals offense is expected to take the next step this year so Sanu can be primed for a big year.

D/ST - As long as defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is around, this Bengals defense will be tough and fast. They added defensive leader James Harrison to a very solid stable of existing players. The Bengals defense may not be in the same tier as the 49ers or Seahawks, but they should be a stout, tough defense that you do not have to take earlier in drafts. If you don't want to reach for a top defense early, you could find value here.