The “Top Five” is an ongoing article breaking down every NFL team’s top 5 best fantasy football
Today’s team: Cincinnati Bengals
1. AJ Green- WR
AJ Green could very well be the best NFL WR in the next 2 years. He’s already acclaimed top tier WR status in just 2 full seasons and obviously the best is still yet to come. There’s a belief that it takes a WR 3 years to break out and put up monster numbers in the NFL. Green is one of the few exceptions to that rule. After breaking out his rookie year, AJ only got better last season putting up the best stats for a WR in the entire AFC. I’d expect his productivity to remain the same this season, however, don’t be surprised or worried if his targets go down (Dalton threw to AJ nearly 1 out of every 3 passes last season). With Cincy drafting Tyler Eifert, Mohamad Sanu stepping in as the #2 WR, and Jermaine Gresham only getting better, AJ still is the top guy in the Bengals offense and remains a debatable late first round, early second round option.
2. Andy Dalton- QB
He’s not one of my top 2 sleeper QB’s for nothing. Mark my words, Andy Dalton is going to break out this season. With a young receiving core being led by AJ Green, a potential two headed monster at tight end, a new pass catching running back (Bernard is going to be huge on dump passes), and a questionable running game, there’s no reason for Dalton to not crack the 4000 yard marker and possibly throw for 30 tds this season.
3. Cincinnati Def/Special Teams
Next to Denver, Cincy’s defense may have the scariest line in the NFL. Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson… Need I say more? I do, how about 51 sacks last season? How about unlike some other defensive teams that lost their coordinator (Seattle), Cincy still has Mike Zimmer. Only downside I can think of from this squad is there’s definitely a weakness in the secondary with no playmakers, just solid guys. However, first round pick Dre Kirkpatrick could make an immediate impact. Add the fact that Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland’s offense may not strike fear into the hearts of anyone this season, and a pretty soft schedule (especially in the playoffs, at Pit and home vs. Minn) and Cincy’s def is looking like it could easily rise to the top in 2013.
4. BenJarvis Green-Ellis- RB
Is Giovani Bernard the running back of the future? Yes. This season however, still belongs to the Law Firm. Last year, Green-Ellis proved himself to be a middle of the road rb, the one that won’t win you any fantasy matchups, but will do just enough for you to start him on a week by week basis (scored 9 or more fantasy points in 10 games last year). This year, the Law Firm’s role will be reduced with Bernard coming in on passing downs, however, Green-Ellis could be valued as a TD vulture, a 1st-2nd down back and a someone playing for a starting job. At age 28, he still has time and plenty of wear and tear left on his treads to be a major factor in the NFL and in fantasy football.
5. Jermaine Gresham- TE
Gresham’s another glass half full/empty kind of guy. One would argue he was second on the team in receptions/yards/TD’s last year, while the other would say that’s because Dalton had no one else to throw it to. Though the Bengals did draftTyler Eifert, look for Andy Dalton to still be throwing Gresham’s way (especially in underneath routes and in the red zone). Gresham’s the closest thing Dalton has to a security blanket and is normally looked at when AJ Green isn’t open. Expect Gresham’s numbers to once again increase this season.