Head coach- Zac Taylor
Offensive coaching philosophy- Balanced, short passes, hurry up offense to dictate tempo, with timely deep shots down the field
What to expect- New head coach Zac Taylor comes over from the LA Rams so expect a lot of the same concepts. Sean McVay likes to use 11 personnel aka 3 WR sets. Expecting the same from Zac Taylor seems likely. McVay also loves play action passes and giving what the defense gives him. If they stack the box to stop the run he’ll opt for a play action pass. If they lay back he’ll call a run. He likes to keep the formation the same and vary the plays from that same look- not giving the defense any tells- a trick he learned from Jon Gruden.
Quarterback- Andy Dalton returns as the starter. He’s been the starter forever it seems. Despite being a good guy (Dalton is known for his charitable work in the community) his on field play has never been elite. You would have thought the Bengals would have tried to trade up in the draft for a young talent like DeShaun Watson, but they’ve stood pat. Former Bengals offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth, now with the Rams, thinks this offense is a perfect fit for Dalton. We’ll see. The new coaching staff might be quick to pull the plug on Dalton if the season goes South to see if they have anything in youngsters Ryan Finley and Jeff Driskel before investing a high pick on a rookie QB next year.
Running Back- Joe Mixon is a future star. The scouting comp on him is LeVeon Bell. He is big, but electric with the ball in his hands. He’s excellent at catching passes and running routes. The only reason he fell to the 2nd round in the NFL Draft were off the field issues. That’s still a risk, but so far he’s stayed out of trouble. If he had any kind of help from the offensive line Mixon could put up some eye popping numbers. Another barrier to his fantasy greatness though is Giovanni Bernard. Head coach Zac Taylor has indicated he saw what happened when Todd Gurley got overused, and vows not to do that to Mixon. He wants Bernard to get 10 touches a game and use him out of the backfield. If this is the case Mixon loses a lot of value and is no longer worthy of his 2nd round price tag. Most fantasy analysts are assuming Mixon is a bell cow back getting a full workload- this development would dispel that fantasy potential.
Wide Receiver/Tight Ends- AJ Green is one of the most talented WRs in the league. It’s a shame he hasn’t had an all-pro QB throwing him the ball to maximize his potential. It’s not all of Dalton’s fault. He got killed behind the offensive line last year. Dalton doesn’t have the strongest arm in the world and Green can beat people deep. Still, they’ve had their moments and when the Red Baron is hot Green is the main beneficiary. Green has had injury issues, but he’s still at the top of his game. His size provides a great red zone target as well. He’s a bargain in the 3rd/4th round. Tyler Boyd mans the other side. He has size, but not the speed Green does. He’s done a good job as a #2 WR. The 3rd WR is speedster John Ross. He’s looking like a bust as a 1st rounder. Perhaps this new offense can resurrect his young career. He figures to play Brandin Cooks role in this Bengals version of the Rams offense. The Bengals defense will most likely struggle this year forcing the offense to play catch up. There are a lot of garbage catches and yards there for the taking if the offensive line can protect Dalton. That’s the million dollar question.
Offensive Line- Poor What was supposed to be an improvement from last year appears to remain status quo at best. 1st round pick OT Jonah Williams from Alabama hurt his shoulder and needed surgery. He’s out for the year. That loss really hurts. He was penciled in at left tackle. Instead Cordy Glenn will stay there for the time being, at least he can protect Dalton decently at left tackle, but this loss hurts the line as a whole. Billy Price is now healthy and should have a better year at center in his sophomore campaign. They signed John Miller from Buffalo, the problem with that is the Bills had a worse line than the Bengals last year. He’ll have to step up at guard with Glenn moving to tackle. Bobby Hart at right tackle is a problem. John Jerry at guard, also from the Giants is another weak spot. When you’re getting guys from the Giants, who had a terrible offensive line, that’s not a good sign. Both of their games needs to improve dramatically for this offense to flourish.
Schedule- Difficult SF, Jacksonville, NY Jets, Cleveland, & New England are all tough on paper.
Bye- Week 9
Playoff Schedule- weeks 14-17 Difficult - at Cleveland, New England, At Miami, Cleveland. The only favorable matchup is the Dolphins. Cleveland’s D is legit. They’re no longer the younger brother in Ohio that the Bengals could beat up.
Undervalued- AJ Green
Overvalued- Joe Mixon
Bottom Line- The skill positions combined with an offensive mind like Zac Taylor have fantasy analysts drooling at the possibilities. However, an early injury in the summer to highly regarded rookie OT Jonah Williams could derail the the train before it gets out of the station. Joe Mixon and his 2nd round ADP is the most expensive player on the board. If a RBBC develops like Coach Taylor has indicated his value plummets. AJ Green seems like a safer bet and is cheaper than usual going in the 3rd/4th rd on average. He’s an all-pro and this team figures to be trailing- if he stays healthy he’s in for a big year. Tyler Boyd is a solid #2. Andy Dalton, like most QBs needs time to be successful. He’s also in a contract year for whatever that’s worth. This offense will go as far as the offensive line will take them. If they struggle it will be a long year. and Cincy could look to see what they have in backup QBs Ryan Finley and Jeff Driskel. Those two themes will define the fantasy fortunes of the Bengals this year.