Cincinnati Bengals 2011 record: 9-7; 3rd in the AFC North
A look at six pertinent areas fantasy owners must consider before drafting from the Cincinnati roster:
A Youth Movement
The Bengals had 10 of the first 191 picks in the 2012 NFL Draft. They could be very young on both side of the ball, thus mistake prone. This may not bode well for this campaign but if they manage this movement correctly the future will be bright. Owners must recognize this young group could spell short term frustrations for their rosters.
BJG is in the Building
Cedric Benson is out and BenJarvus Green-Ellis is in as the featured running back. While Green-Ellis may represent an upgrade at the position, it's hard to imagine the team improving on the 111.1 average in rushing yards per game (11th in the AFC) they amassed last season. The perpetually underutilized Bernard Scott could factor in the mix but this is a tough running game to trust.
An Elite Defense?
They forced 16 fumbles (tied for 2nd in the AFC) in 2011 while managing 45 sacks (also 2nd). In the offseason they signed Terence Newman away from the Dallas Cowboys and drafted Dre Kirkpatrick in the first round. They will own a formidable defense.
There's A.J. Green and Then?
Green was outstanding in his rookie year as he caught 65 passes for 1,057 yards. He is the undeniable number one wide receiver. With Brandon Tate, Armon Binns, and Mohamad Sanu all on the roster the number two receiver job is wide open. Nonetheless do any of those options really appeal to fantasy owners?
In Dalton we Trust
Any time a rookie can toss 20 touchdowns versus just 13 interceptions the way Dalton did in 2012 high praise is deserved. He managed a quarterback rating of 80.4 while throwing for 3,398 yards. That's the good news. The bad news is there is a shortage of capable hands on the Bengals which could inhibit his growth. Under those circumstances it is difficult to see his overall numbers improving significantly this season.
Gresham to the Rescue?
Jermaine Gresham possesses capable receiving skills and has been an impact receiver for Cincinnati. The former first round pick has 10 touchdowns in his first two season as a professional and worked well with Andy Dalton last season. Attaining 1,000 receiving in 2012 is a stretch but 800 with eight touchdowns places him in the top-10 in the tight end rankings.
This team will go as far as the youngsters are able to progress. Hands will be a problem throughout the season unless there is a surprise or two. That being noted, Green and Gresham should be productive and post superior numbers as compared to last year. The defense could be in the top quarter of the league with the potential to be among the best. The running game is suspect and best to be avoided.
Sources: Yahoo! Sports
Robert Watkins is former investment professional and partner. A native New Yorker until 9/11, he considers Pa. his adoptive home. A passionate Giants fan, fantasy football fanatic, and Pennsylvania sports enthusiast, Robert is a frequent contributor to Yahoo! Sports and News.