Cincinnati Bengals; 2012 Offseason Breakdown

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Cincinnati Bengals; 2012 Offseason Breakdown

By, Eric Hartvigson


Stadium: Paul Brown Stadium (outdoors)

Schedule Strength: 24th

Postseason Weather issues: vs Dal Week 14, @ Phil Week 15, @ Pit Week 16

Offensive Line Ranking: 3rd


Head Coach – Marvin Lewis (2009 Coach of the Year);     Cincinnati Head Coach Marvin Lewis has been a defensive coach his entire 30 year career. A linebacker at Idaho State University, Lewis spent 15 years in the college ranks before becoming the linebackers coach for the Steelers and later the Defensive Coordinator for the Redskins.  Most notably Lewis was the architect behind the vaunted 2000 Ray Lewis led Baltimore Ravens (arguably the best defense all time).  It was Lewis’ talents as a defensive guru for which he was hired by Cincinnati.  However, like so many defensive head coaches, in order to identify the Bengals Offensive System we must turn to examine the offensive coordinator.

Offensive Coordinator – Jay Gruden;      Coach Jay Gruden was a prolific Quarterback throughout his playing days, including great success in the Arena Football League, winning multiple championships as a player and coach. Gruden is most notably the brother of Super Bowl winning Head Coach Jon Gruden, serving as an offensive assistant in Tampa Bay, making him a spinoff disciple of the Bill Walsh West Coast Offense.

QB – Andy Dalton;      Most aptly nicknamed the Red Rifle, Dalton was a proven winner in college leading the TCU Horned Frogs to a 34-3 record as the teams signal caller.  The biggest knock on Dalton entering the NFL Draft was a lack of arm strength, which is often misrepresented as Dalton proved last season he can through a “good” deep ball.  What he also proved was his winning ways in college had carried over to the professional game leading the Bengals to the playoffs while earning Pro-Bowl honors.  Watching Dalton it has become clear that he is intelligent beyond his years showing great poise in the pocket and command of his offense.  He also displayed tremendous decision making and precise accuracy as indicated by listing Dalton as the 5th most accurate passer in the NFL (excluding dropped passes, throwaways and spikes).  Despite his excellent on field performance, his fantasy numbers were merely adequate finishing 16th in QB scoring.  It is a common trend that most QBs do not fully “emerge” as every week fantasy starters until their 4th year in the league.  Furthermore, Dalton has a very tough postseason schedule including possible weather issues in all 3 games.  On the upside, he does play inside the classic West Coast Offense, tailored perfectly to his strengths, while having the presence of top tier wide receiver AJ Green and a solid tight end in Jermaine Gresham.  We should expect Dalton to remain in the upper QB2 range with a player rating of 7.6

RB – Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis (Law Firm);       Leaving the Patriots this past offseason, Green-Ellis will be given every opportunity to emerge as a 3-Down-Back in Cincinnati.  While in NE, BJGE showed excellent power down near the goal line scoring 11 touchdown.  Now playing behind one of the league better offensive lines, his powerful running style will fit perfectly.  Also on the plus side, Green-Ellis never fumbles the football, has solid ability in the passing game along with solid pass blocking all earning the trust of the coaching staff allowing him to stay on the field for increased opportunity.  On the downside, he isn’t a breakaway runner with shifty moves and a history of long runs, but more of a plodding type back that will always gain tough yardage.  Also, the Bengals proved last season they will use backup running back Bernard Scott for long stretches of the game.  We should expect Green-Ellis to garner upwards of 18 touches per game meaning he should emerge as a mid-to-high end RB2 with a player rating of 8.6.

WR1 – AJ Green;       I wish I could say that’s Green’s emergence was a surprise, but I drafted him both of my leagues last year.  I projected Green’s success because I knew; 1) he would lead his team in targets, and 2) the hiring of Jay Gruden in 2011 would propel the Cincinnati passing game.  Although not the biggest of players, Green has track speed, amazing body control, excellent hands and a tremendous vertical leap.  As displayed last season the Bengals intend to use Green all over the field including numerous vertical attempts deep down field.  Green will again fill that role for the Bengals in 2012 warranting a player rating of 8.5

TE – Jermaine Gresham;    With the recent emergence of the tight end position as a dominant force in fantasy football, Gresham’s name is being thrown around quite a bit in the media as a possible “sleeper”.  When examining Gresham we find a number of attributes that support this mindset.  He is a big, physical, fast player down that possesses the required size and hands to be a productive red zone threat while playing inside the classic West Coast offense that utilizes the tight end over the middle to soften up the defense.  With the improvements at the QB position and added attention now required by wide receiver AJ Green, he should be seeing softer coverage.  All told Gresham is late round flier as an emerging TE1 earning a player rating of 7.9.

DST – Cincinnati Bengals;     On paper the Bengals have one of the leagues better secondary with the return of Leon Hall, drafting of 1st rounder Dre Kirkpatrick while still rostering Nate Clements and Adam Jones.  On the downside, Hall is still recovering from injury, Fitzpatrick has already sustained a training camp knee injury, Clements is on the downhill side of his career and Jones can’t keep his head in the game.  The one constant for the Bengals is the strong presence at the defensive coordinator position with Mike Zimmers along with a defensive minded head coach in Marvin Lewis.  It’s worth noting that in 2011 the Bengals finished the season ranked inside the top 10 in rush and pass defense.  They are now shaping up to be considered amongst the low end starting fantasy defenses worthy of a player rating of 7.6

K – Mike Nugent;      Considering the lack of offensive production, along with the potential for adverse weather in all three playoff games, we should be able to find better options. Nugent enters 2012 with a player rating of 7.8


About Eric Hartvigson