I have a confession to make. My refrigerator is full of orange Kool-Aid and I’ve been drinking it by the gallon. I’m convinced – absolutely certain – that the Bengals are going to be good this year. The offense is going to be explosive. The defense is going to be stubborn. And the Bengals are going to the playoffs. So keep that in mind as I dole out some fantasy advice on the men in orange and black. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about my fanboy tendencies.
Carson Palmer – He’s got to be a great value pick this year, right? Palmer is throwing passes to one of the best receiving trios in the entire league and should be undervalued because of his arm injury. Provided he’s healthy and the offensive line doesn’t get him killed, he should put up some good numbers this year. Perhaps temper your expectations a bit because he has to play the Pittsburgh and Baltimore defenses twice. Other than that, expect big things from No. 9.
Where he’s going (All draft positions based on averages from 12-team mock drafts on fantasyfootballcalculator.com): 7th round, pick 12
Cedric Benson: Sorry, I know, the Kool-Aid, but Benson should also be poised for a huge year. He shouldn’ t have to share too many carries, can catch the ball well out of the backfield (huge in point-per-catch leagues) and has an endorsement from Palmer himself. I’m paraphrasing a bit, but when asked to give fantasy football advice, Palmer said, “Draft Cedric Benson.” Point taken. I’ll trust someone who has gotten an in-depth look at the Bengals playbook.
Where he’s going: 6th round, pick 11
Chad Johnson: O.K. this one should be a little tougher to figure out. Chad by his own admission was abysmal last year and vows to have two seasons in one this year. My guess is he ends up somewhere in the middle. I believe the Bengals will run the ball a lot this year and Chad will lose some catches to Laveranues Coles and Chris Henry. My guess is he finishes with about 80 catches, 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Where he’s going: 4th round, pick 5
Laveranues Coles: Could be a fantasy steal this year. Coles has spent the majority of his career as the go-to receiver, but should see a lot of favorable coverages this year. Is it crazy to assume he’ll produce like T.J. Houshmanzadeh did? I think he should be close. Plus, Coles should go deep a little more often that T.J. did. Coles averages 12.8 yards per catch for his career. T.J. averages 11.4.
Where he’s going: 7th round, pick 11
Chris Henry: Another wild card with some potential. In 2006, Henry had nine touchdowns. He’s supposedly in great shape and mentally sound heading into a contract year. He’s probably worth the risk in the later rounds, but not much sooner. As the Bengals have found out, it’s hard to rely on Henry for much of anything. However, he could turn out to be a pleasant surprise.
Where he’s going: 10th round, 9th pick
That should cover it for the Bengals you might consider drafting. The others probably won’t do much but prove your fanboy status. Maybe you could convince me that Ben Utecht (as a backup tight end) and the Bengals D (as a backup defense) are worth taking, but I would need to be force-fed some Kool-Aid first.
And for those who are counting, training camp is just a week away. Bring it on.