7. Vontaze Burfict, LB
Burfict is a tough evaluation for 2018, mostly because of his playing time. When he’s on the field, he turns this defense on its head. He singlehandedly stoped the bleeding for this team against the run when he returned last season, and he could have a similar impact this season. However, Burfict will max out at 12 games this year because of his suspension, and could play fewer if he gets nicked up. Compared to other elite players on this team who will play a full season, Burfict may have less holistic value. Still, he’s an absolute maverick on the field, which can wreak havoc on the opposing offense. When he plays, Burfict will be an absolute monster this year.
6. Andy Dalton, QB
In all honesty, when I initially fleshed out my roster rankings, I had Dalton at 11th on this team. As the preseason has gone on, though, I have completely bought into him. Not only does he play the most premium position in the NFL, but he appears to have found his rhythm again. Dalton had the highest passer rating of all quarterbacks throughout the preseason, which is no small feat. He absolutely shredded Buffalo and Chicago in his most extensive stints this year, creating flashbacks of his 2015 MVP campaign.
Dalton really looks like the Dalton from his peak years again, which bodes extremely well for this offense. New coordinator Bill Lazor can highlight Dalton’s skill set, and a plethora of new weapons besides AJ Green and Tyler Eifert will unlock the entire field for Dalton. It’s no guarantee that he’ll be a stud again – if he’s not, this ranking is too high. However, I expect Dalton to lead the offensive resurgence for the Bengals in 2018.