2021 Fantasy Preview – Cincinnati Bengals

Team Overview

The Bengals gave the key to the franchise to Joe Burrow last year, but the offensive line was unable to keep him upright all year. This led to a massive injury to Burrow and a lost season for the Bengals. The organization has made some moves to improve the line with the signing of Riley Reiff, the drafting of Jackson Carman in the second round, D’Ante Smith in the fourth round, and Trey Hill in the sixth round. This year was basically Jonah Williams’ rookie year, so he should take some steps towards improvement. Even though they addressed the line in the draft, they decided to pass on premier left tackle, Penei Sewell, and take Ja’Marr Chase instead.  

The youth movement is in full swing and the goal for the Bengals is to continue to build and improve and let Burrow lead them to their first playoff appearance since 2015. On offense, they look like a powerhouse of skill position players with Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Joe Mixon. If the line play improves, this could be one of the top offenses in the league as Burrow was on pace for record-breaking numbers in 2020. Their defense struggled in 2020 and is part of the reason Burrow had to throw so often. That side of the ball looks to make strides this year with the free-agent signings and rookie draft picks joining the team.

2021 Fantasy Preview Cincinnati Bengals- Projected Depth Chart

Individual Players

Studs

  • Joe Mixon: It is potentially controversial adding Mixon to the “Studs” list, but Mixon is primed for a bounce-back year after missing a majority of the 2020 season. The offensive line looks to take a step forward, the offense is more balanced than it was in 2019, they forecast to be in scoring situations more often, and Giovanni Bernard is out of the picture leaving behind a lot of targets. Mixon should provide RB1 numbers consistently throughout the season.
  • Ja’Marr Chase: Considered the WR1 in the class by many analysts and scouts this offseason. In dynasty, this could potentially be the cheapest opportunity to acquire Chase. Considering him as a stud is a lot of projecting and basing on his high potential, but his pre-draft talent makes it worth the shot.

Role Players

  • Joe Burrow: With Burrow coming back off his injury, all arrows are pointing up. The volume should still be there from the start of his rookie season, and they have added an elite weapon at wide receiver, Ja’Marr Chase. Despite the volume he had he was still only the QB15 weeks 1 through 10 (before his injury), posting very up and down weeks. If he can improve his efficiency, he is set up to be on the “Studs” list going into 2022, especially in dynasty formats at the age of 24.
  • Tee Higgins: Higgins might be on the “Studs” list here if the Bengals didn’t go out and grab one of the top wide receivers in this class. He had an incredibly impressive rookie year posting over 900 yards and 6 touchdowns and probably would have been even better if Burrow stayed healthy all year. He still provides value, but his ceiling is a bit capped for future years with Chase in the fold now.

Keep an eye on

  • Tyler Boyd: Boyd has been incredibly consistent the past few seasons with WR16, WR18, and WR29 finishes each of the past 3 years (missing some games toward the end of the 2020 season). Looking towards the Bengals’ future, it would make sense that they want Higgins and Chase to be the focal point of this offense. While Boyd provides great NFL value, it won’t be surprising to see his fantasy value decrease in upcoming years with the competition for targets.
  • Drew Sample: CJ Uzomah is the only real competition Sample has for targets at the TE position, and Uzomah is more of a blocking TE than the receiving threat that Sample is. But even if Sample gets on the field, the TE is not generally featured in Cincinnati’s offense, especially with the great weapons currently at the WR position. It’s an uphill battle for Sample, but a situation to monitor.
  • Samaje Perine: Perine provides a handcuff to Joe Mixon on early-down situations. Without an injury to Mixon, Perine doesn’t hold much stand-alone value. But he’s still someone to keep an eye on on the waiver wire.

Dynasty Stashes

  • Chris Evans: Evans was a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, so he has an uphill battle to get on the field. That being said, he has an opportunity to secure the role that Giovanni Bernard has left behind in the offense. That’s a valuable role that can translate to flex/low-end RB2 numbers.

***Note: All projections and discussions are assuming full PPR formats.***

IDP Analysis With IDPIggy

Key Additions

Trey Hendrickson, Chidobe Awuzie, Larry Ogunjobi, & Mike Hilton

Fantasy Football Starters

Vonn Bell (DB), Jessie Bates (DB), Mike Hilton (DB), Trey Hendrickson (DL)

Defensive coordinator, Lou Anarumo got an overhaul this off season with 3 veteran free agents inking multiple year deals. On top of that DB Trae Waynes, should improve their cornerback unit after not playing at all last year, due to injury. 

DL Trey Hendrickson will hopefully provide the pass rush they desperately need as he is earning $60 Million. DL C. Lawson and DL C. Dunlap are with new teams, so the former New Orleans Saint will have to be ‘The Guy’. 

The Bengals have been searching for a thumping inside linebacker since V. Burfict, they are still searching. What the Bengals lack in LBs, they make up for in one of the best safety duos in the league. DB Vonn Bell and DB Jessie Bates are elite defenders, and require due diligence in preparation for opposing coordinators. They are starters in deeper IDP leagues, and almost weekly stream candidates in smaller formats. They have potential for a pro bowl, or an All Pro 2021.

2021 Fantasy Preview Cincinnati Bengals- Stat Projections

Passing

Player Name Pos Comp Att Yards TDs INTs
Joe Burrow
QB
380
579
4,186
29
12

Receiving

Player Name Pos Targets Rec Yards Yds/Rec TDs
Ja'Marr Chase
WR
117
71
980
13.8
6
Tee Higgins
WR
111
67
878
13.1
7
Tyler Boyd
WR
105
74
755
10.2
5
Joe Mixon
RB
59
47
376
8.0
2
Drew Sample
TE
35
28
258
9.2
2
Chris Evans
RB
18
13
122
9.4
1
Samaje Perine
RB
12
10
52
5.2
1

Rushing

Player Name Pos Att Yards Yds/Att TDs
Joe Mixon
RB
263
1,132
4.3
8
Joe Burrow
QB
53
263
5.0
3
Samaje Perine
RB
41
158
3.9
1
Chris Evans
RB
20
87
4.3

***Note Player Projections are only fantasy relevant players. Team totals may not add up as we left out players that may not have a significant impact on the season. Projections provided by Rich King and is based on 16 games.***

Team Projection

Record HC OC
7-10
Zac Taylor
Brian Callahan
Rush Att Rush Yards Rush TDs Passing Att Passing Yards Passing TDs Total Yards Total TDs
458
2,025
16
585
4,228
29
6,253
45
6th
15th
13th
5th
24th
8th
21st
13th

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Image Credit: Steve Flynn – USA TODAY Sports