Fantasy Football

Bengals fantasy questions for 2012

FOX Sports Ryan Fowler and Joel Beall
Share This Story fantasy football editors Ryan Fowler and Joel Beall paid a visit to Paul Brown Stadium on the first day of Cincinnati Bengals training camp.  Their mission was to get a better idea of which players to target outside of A.J. Green in 2012.  Who is the #2 receiver?  Is this a RBBC?  Is Jermaine Gresham worth starting?  Do the players realize how big fantasy football has become?

Wide receivers coach James Urban busted out all his tricks at the end of Cincinnati's first training camp practice.

He lined up two to the right. Then he lined up three to the left. With a glowing smile, he created his own version of Jon Moxon’s oopty-oop, loading up two pairs back on the right side. The combinations were endless.

Then again, if you were taking pictures with your kids and wife alongside A.J. Green and Andy Dalton, you’d invent a few more photo formations, too.


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Urban knows who butters the bread.

But after Green, the receiving picture becomes a bit cloudy. Last year’s WR2, Jerome Simpson, is now in Minnesota. The incumbents with the best shot at playing time are Armon Binns, Brandon Tate and Andrew Hawkins - not household names.

“I think the preseason will define who is named the second and third receiver,” Hawkins said. “Everyone here is big. Everyone here is strong. What separates one player from the next is how much attention to detail they pay.”

But a new corps of rookies has joined the fray. Mohamed Sanu was selected in the third round with Marvin Jones taken in the fifth. A couple undrafted receivers are also in camp.

“The word rookie doesn’t bother us,” Urban stressed. “We played A.J. as a rookie last year. We put the best player out there that gives us a chance to win.”

“(The assimilation to the offense) is going well,” Sanu said. “We’re carrying over that rhythm from OTAs, refreshing memory, making sure everyone’s on the same page.”

So, does Urban hope to have a definitive number two receiver by the end of camp?

“We’re have 3, 4 or 5 guys that we feel really good about,” Urban said. “We think they are interchangeable. I know {offensive coordinator} Jay Gruden agrees.”

“We’re a great group, whoever coach picks to fill that spot is going to do a great job,” said Sanu. “It’s a battle, but we’re just trying to do whatever to help the team.”

If Dalton isn’t thrilled with his second and third options in the receiver pecking order, there is always tight end Jermaine Gresham.  He caught 15 balls for 174 yards with a touchdown in the final three games of the season (one playoff). His six scores finished within the top 10 among tight ends.

“He’s so talented,” Dalton said. “I feel he’s a mismatch out there. We’ll definitely try to find ways to get the ball to him.”

I've concluded that if you want to help your fantasy football roster on draft day, avoid any receivers not named A.J. Green or Jermain Greshamn.  Profound?  Maybe.  But some owners think draft day is a time to get cute with their overanalysis.  The waiver wire is there for a reason.  If you see a definitive number two target emerging in Cincinnati after the first few games, hit the wire. 

- Ryan Fowler

FOX Fantasy Football Game

Of course, paramount to any air assault is the presence of a ground game. It’s in this arena that the Bengals were lacking in 2011, as their 3.9 yards per attempt ranked 27th in the league. Though Cedric Benson racked up his third consecutive 1,000-yard campaign for Cincinnati last season, the general consensus stated the team needed a breath of fresh air in the backfield. Enter BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who posted 11 touchdowns in split duty with New England last year and has yet to fumble in 510 professional carries.

Assiting the Law Firm will be Bernard Scott, a former sixth-round pick who’s seen reserve duty for Who-Deys the past three falls. Scott is expected to carry a more expansive role in 2012, and is looking forward to teaming up with Green-Ellis for the upcoming season.

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“We get along well, BenJarvus is a good dude,” said Scott. “You always want to compete, but we aren’t individuals, we’re a unit. We all have a role to do, and I know we’re going to do it.”

Green-Ellis holds the most value for fantasy users out of the Bengals backfield, as it’s envisioned the former Patriot will receive the majority of the workload. If he receives 220 or more carries, Green-Ellis could transform into a top-15 fantasy back. Don’t let this serve as condemnation to Scott’s worth, however, as the versatile back holds merit as an alternate, especially in PPR formats. And for managers seeking that ever-elusive sleeper pick, Dan “Boom” Herron out of Ohio State is worth the watch in the event of injury to Green-Ellis and/or Scott. - Joel Beall

As the popularity of the NFL grows, so grows fantasy football. Some purists of the hobby–gone-global would argue the opposite rational because the casual male fan along with a good number of women have been drawn to the sport because they're in fantasy football league(s) at home and/or work. The fantasy football world has grown to the point where the NFL instructed (directed?) all 32 teams to show real-time fantasy stats on their stadium’s scoreboards.

“When I was a rookie in ’05, I don’t feel like it was that big,” kicker Mike Nugent said. “Now people ask you what you do and figure out who you are, and the usual response is, ‘Oh yeah, I had you on my fantasy team!’ so it’s cool hearing that.”

The guys in the Bengals locker room aren’t naïve when it comes to their value in reality and fantasy worlds.

“That’s the first thing fans say to us. Should I pick you up in fantasy? I don’t know man,” Hawkins, who plays fantasy (team: RocketsOnTop), said laughing. “The NFL was already big enough, but now the fans have even more of a vested interest. It builds the craziness around the NFL.”

Nugent agrees on the impact of the game. “It’s a good way to get those fringe fans, get them invested, and I think that’s good for football as a business,” Nugent said.

Although he probably won’t be a QB1 in most fantasy football leagues, Dalton understands the attraction.

“It adds a new element while watching football. I think it’s good for the game. All my buddies play it. I try to get my plug in there for them to take me in the first round.”

Dalton’s buddies aren’t alone, his top target, Green, keeps fantasy football in the family. His dad plays. I asked him if he’s a first-round pick with pops:

“I hope so,” Green said with a smirk. “I look at Twitter a lot and there is a lot of stuff about where people are drafting me. I’m not big on it ... yet.”

Tagged: Mike Nugent, Andrew Hawkins, Bengals, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bernard Scott, Brandon Tate, Mohamed Sanu, Jets, Ryan Fowler, Jermaine Gresham, A.J. Green, Andy Dalton

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