Cedric Benson ran for 1,251 yards and six scores in 13 games last season.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In Part 13 of the series, we head to the AFC North and check out the division winning Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals were 10-6 in 2009, scoring just 19.1 ppg on offense (22nd among 32 teams) while yielding 18.2 ppg on defense (sixth-best).
Carson Palmer - It appears that Bengals management is serious about getting the passing game working and have brought in a plethora of receivers in hopes that one or two will work out alongside Chad Ochocinco. All this bodes well for Palmer, who hasn't given us good fantasy production since 2007. In 2009 he had just one 300+ yard game (San Diego Week 15) and finished well down in the quarterback rankings (18th). Owners are apparently not yet convinced that the changes will work, because his stock has fallen from 86 in 2009 to 117 in early mock drafts. He could be part of a "salt and pepper" quarterback strategy, but likely still won't be a full-time fantasy starter in 2010.
Cedric Benson - Benson finally started to show the potential everyone saw in college, it just took five years and a change in scenery to appear. He ran for 1,251 yards and six scores in 13 games (missed two and a half games with injury, one by coaches decision). He's in the final year of his contract too, which should give him added incentive to perform. Benson isn't quite as good in PPR leagues as he doesn't contribute much to the passing game. He's the 12th running back off the board and a late-second round or early third round selection. Given the lack of other options the Bengals have at running back, Benson should be a solid fantasy option and give you "fair market value" for your selection.
Bernard Scott - Scott did accumulate 206 yards in the two games he replaced Benson as the team's starting running back last season, but when Cincinnati acquired Larry Johnson in mid-season, it told you what they thought of Scott's long-term future at running back. "It says he's a backup and kick returner."
Chad Ochocinco - Ochocinco had a bit of a renaissance in 2009, posting 1,047 yards and nine touchdowns. After being "MIA" in fantasy for all of 2008, it was nice to see him return to relevance, even if it wasn't quite up to the standards he set from 2003 through 2007. His five-year average for that timeframe was 92 receptions for 1,374 yards and nine scores. He'll not likely ever reach those heights again, but he should be able to repeat last year's production in 2010. He's got an ADP of 47 and should be worth the late fourth- round pick.
Antonio Bryant - Bryant struggled with injuries throughout 2009 and was a disappointment to Buccaneers fans and fantasy owners. His 2009 ADP of 72 brought you 39 catches for 600 yards and four touchdowns. In the 2008 fantasy playoffs he had almost the same totals in just three games (23 receptions for 435 yards and four touchdowns) and was a "trendy" pick in 2009. He'll start opposite Ochocinco, if his knees permit, but I'm not expecting much. His current ADP is 104 and he's the 37th receiver off the board.
Andre Caldwell - Caldwell will have to fight off a group of young receivers to hold down the No.3 spot in the Bengals offense. The team drafted Jordan Shipley and Dezmon Briscoe this season and had drafted Quan Cosby the previous year. They also signed troubled, but talented, free agent Matt Jones. Any of the five in this quintet could emerge as the No.3 guy, or they could all share parts of the job and none would become "fantasy-worthy." Only time will tell. If I was forced to choose, I'd say Caldwell still has the job for most of this year, but down the road Shipley, who reminded me of a "Wes Welker type" at Texas, wins the job.
Jermaine Gresham - Gresham was a 2008 All-American at Oklahoma, but missed his senior year with a knee injury. If healthy, he's just what the Cincinnati offense needs, but as a fantasy tight end in a year where there is an abundance at the position, he'll have little fantasy value.
Dave Rayner, Mike Nugent - As of June, the Bengals have two kickers under contract and it's difficult to tell which will eventually win the job that Shayne Graham owned for seven years. Neither will likely be selected in fantasy drafts until the Bengals decide who their kicker will be for 2010.
The Cincinnati defense was a "middle-of-the-pack" squad from a fantasy standpoint. They scored 108 points (19th) on 34 sacks, six fumbles, 19 interceptions, three defensive touchdowns and one kick return for a score. They are currently the 10th defense off the board at No.190. The team should get back DE Antwan Odom from a ruptured Achilles tendon (eight sacks in the first four weeks) and drafted a talented pass rusher in Carlos Dunlap in the second round which could make them a stronger fantasy option.
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