Fantasy Football: The best Bengals to target and those to avoid
Fantasy Football has become such a booming business that it is impossible to avoid it. Not only that, but players are getting smarter, strategies are getting more complex, and information is everywhere if you know where to look.
One of the biggest challenges in fantasy football is the leagues you find yourself in and the participants always looking to get players from their own team. Managers will reach players well above their average draft position (ADP) simply by ensuring that the player whose jersey they wear to the draft game is on their roster. For a team like the Cincinnati Bengals, that will be especially true in the 2022 draft.
As the Bengals come off their most successful season in years and see the offensive explosions they are capable of, many managers will want a piece of that offense. For those new to fantasy football, the first name that will come to mind is Joe Burrow, but that would be a mistake.
As you prepare for your drafts and for those of you who will be in leagues made up mostly of Bengals fans, here are some players to pursue and avoid in your next draft, no matter how many of their jerseys hang in your cupboard.
Last season, Burrow finished as the No. 8 quarterback in fantasy football, averaging 19.6 points per game in 4-point touchdown leagues. This year, he is drafted as the fifth quarterback with an ADP of 7.06 (sixth pick in the seventh round) in 12 team leagues.
Many believe Burrow will be a better fantasy quarterback than he was last season. With extra protection up front and a second year with Ja’Marr Chase, it’s possible his numbers will increase.
That said, the quarterbacks drafted ahead of him are Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson. Other players drafted around the same time as Burrow are Courtland Sutton, Michael Pittman Jr., Jerry Jeudy, Amari Cooper and Chris Godwin.
Quarterbacks taken a round or later than Burrow are Kyler Murray, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers. Quite simply, your roster will end better if you target one of those receivers in the same spot Burrow enters and take a Brady (11.08 ADP), Rodgers (13.01 ADP) or Wilson (11.01 ADP) later in the draft. Remember you start a quarterback but three to four wide receivers and running backs. Charge position players early and let someone else get to Burrow.
Chase exploded for the Bengals and fantasy owners in 2021, finishing as the fifth-best wide receiver in his rookie season.
With a target share of over 23% and touchdowns scored on 10% of his targets last season, Chase is already a locked and loaded WR1 for your fantasy team this season.
Currently, he has a 2.02 ADP and is drafted as the fourth wide receiver behind Cooper Kupp, Justin Jefferson and Davante Adams. Receivers taken after Chase include Stefon Diggs, CeeDee Lamb, Deebo Samuel and Tyreek Hill.
Not much else to say about this one unless you’re worried about a second seizure. Chase showed what he was capable of in his rookie season and there’s very little for anyone to think he can’t do anymore. If he’s sitting there for you as WR1, take him.
If you miss Chase, how about Higgins? Higgins is currently drafted at 5.03 and is coming off a year where he finished as a WR22 – barely making the cut as a WR2 in 10-team formats.
Higgins actually finished with a higher target share than Chase by 0.6% – and had one more red zone target.
His overall ranking is a little disappointing. Higgins only finished WR2 or better in five of his 14 games last season. He finished outside the top 36 five times.
There are plenty of opportunities for Higgins and this is one of the key factors when building your fantasy roster. But 5.03 may be a bit rich. Other players drafted around Higgins include Diontae Johnson, Terry McLaurin, DK Metcalf, James Connor, David Montgomery, Cam Akers, Darren Waller and George Kittle.
Higgins could be a good play, especially in a PPR format, but consistency worries me at this point in the draft. When you can wait two rounds and get Amari Cooper or Chris Godwin or Allen Robinson I’d be more inclined to do that and go with a running back since we all know after the fifth round you scrape the bottom of the barrel on these .
Boyd finished last season as a WR31 in the Fantasy Leagues – a third wide receiver in the middle of the pack or a top flex option depending on your roster format.
While his target share is just over 18%, that’s pretty decent considering Chase and Higgins are ahead of him. With the same touchdowns per target as Higgins and currently drafted at 16.09, Boyd could be the steal of this Bengals roster. He finished four times in the top 24, eight in the top 36 last season and is being drafted around the likes of Michael Gallup, Kenny Golladay, Russell Gage, Jakobi Meyers, Ronald Jones, Cole Kmet, Hunter Henry and Justin Fields.
When you reach round 16, you are looking for perks, values, and steals while mitigating risk. No one does it better than Boyd in this range. He can absolutely rob you of a week or two, but if he has a bad outing, it’s not going to tank your team. He’s not Chase and he doesn’t present the risk of Higgins to his current ADP.
Boyd should absolutely be the guy you get while the rest of your league sleeps on him.
Verdict: stolen draft
Running Backs are a priority in fantasy football. Why? Because most of the league runs its backfield through a multi-back rotation.
There are few teams in the NFL that have a bona fide, undisputed lead to rush and receive. The Bengals have one of those guys with Mixon. He finished 2021 as an RB3 and is currently being drafted at 2.02, the same place as Chase.
He was responsible for over 80% of the Bengals’ runs and had a target share of 9% in the passing game. There was only one game where Mixon finished outside the top 36 for running backs and only four other weeks where he finished outside the top 24.
He also had seven top-5 finishes. Mixon is drafted as the eighth running back behind Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Najee Harris, Jonathan Taylor, Austin Ekeler and D’Andre Swift. Personally, I’m taking Mixon over McCaffrey, who can’t stay healthy, along with Harris and Swift. Much like Burrow, you can reasonably believe Mixon’s production will actually improve behind a revamped offensive line, which is fun to think considering he’s rushed for over 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns with 300 extra yards. and three touchdowns in the air. Mixon is a foolproof RB1 in any format and should be taken in the first round of any fantasy draft.
While these ADPs fluctuate as we get closer to the NFL season and fantasy drafts really start to ramp up, it gives you a quick look at what many fantasy managers are doing with the top Bengals right now.
No one will force you to surrender your fan card if you go over Burrow or Higgins – and you can use other managers’ home run picks against them to build a better overall roster. Let them get to Burrow early in the sixth round or freak out Higgins’ draft in the third after Chase goes off the board. This means you’ll charge into other key players who shouldn’t have bumped into you and crush them when you go head-to-head.
Keep an eye on trends over the weeks and type your draft as informed as possible. Don’t search for players from your favorite team just because they play on your favorite team. Let others make this mistake. Then, as if you were Evan McPherson with the game in play, crush their hopes and dreams of defeating you.
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