COMMENTARY | Fantasy football players are constantly searching for that hidden gem that can make or break their chances at winning a league.
That hidden gem resides in Cincinnati this year, whether you're playing dynasty, re-draft or any other fantasy concoction you can dream up.
We could be talking about several players here. Second-year receiver Mohamed Sanu is a nice choice, as is Marvin Jones. Rookie tight end Tyler Eifert could surprise. So could running back Giovani Bernard.
Check the box that reads "none of the above."
We're talking about quarterback Andy Dalton.
Perhaps you know him as the "Red Rifle." Either way, Dalton is an under-the-radar fantasy asset that could allow you to hold off on drafting a quarterback until the mid-rounds. In turn it will allow you to stockpile weapons at running back and wide receiver instead.
Dalton is not the biggest name at his position. According to the fantasy geniuses over at Dynasty Football Warehouse, Dalton's average draft position (ADP) is in round 12. There are 14 names generally drafted above him in dynasty leagues.
Use this knowledge to your advantage, Bengals fan or not.
Let's take a look at the numbers. Last year Dalton completed over 62 percent of his passes, threw for almost 3,700 yards and rounded out the stat line with a 27 to 16 touchdown to interception ratio. He recorded three games in which he passed for over 300 yards.
Dalton also rushed for four touchdowns, essentially meaning he accounted for 31 total fantasy touchdowns. Depending on how your league scores, that's not a horrific output if the rest of your roster is well-rounded.
Of course, stats are not absolutely everything in fantasy football, which brings us to another critical element of Dalton's value-his situation.
Dalton did not have the best supporting cast last year outside of A.J. Green. There was no true No. 2 receiver. Mohamed Sanu had a nice showing before going down for the year. Marvin Jones came on at the end of the year. There was no consistency, and nothing remarkable came out of the slot either.
The same goes for tight end. Jermaine Gresham struggled to catch passes yet again. Behind Dalton, running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis put up 1,000 yards but made the offense predictable. There was no change-of-pace back.
2013 is going to be a lot different. Tight end Tyler Eifert is now in town, meaning Dalton will have a reliable target, or at the very least another massive distraction like Gresham. Defenses will struggle to account for both.
Sanu and Jones are healthy. Both showed flashes of consistency when on the field last season. Better yet, they may be able to get on the field at the same time to cause defenses issues.
Then there's running back Giovani Bernard, known for his ability to not only be an effective runner, but to catch passes out of the backfield. His presence creates an essence of unpredictability to the offense and also gives Dalton a reliable check-down target, meaning he should take less sacks than the 17 coverage sacks he helped to create a year ago.
All things taken into consideration around him, paired with the fact his natural development curve has been trending upward, it's not too ridiculous to think Dalton can throw for over 4,000 yards and in the neighborhood of 35 touchdowns.
As with any fantasy player ever, there's a chance it all goes wrong. But right now everything is pointing toward Dalton having a fantastic fantasy outing probably worthy of a QB1 position on your roster.
Strike while the iron is hot. Dalton is by no means flying off the draft boards, regardless of the type of league you play. Focus on important positions while others take the Aaron Rodgers' of the world, swoop back around in the mid-rounds, pick up Dalton and win your fantasy league in 2013.
Chris Roling is a graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. His work has appeared on Bleacher Report, Fansided, The Cincinnati Enquirer and more. He is the co-host of a Cincinnati Bengals podcast, @BengalsCentral
You can follow Chris on Twitter @Chris_Roling
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Andy Dalton
- Mohamed Sanu
- Marvin Jones
- Tyler Eifert