The Cincinnati Bengals finished 2019 as the worst team in the NFL. It’s not hard to see why they failed, with a new head coach and a load of injures. In an attempt to save themselves the Bengals got rid of the Red Rocket, Andy Dalton, and drafted the phenom, Joe Burrow. With a year of experience and a rejuvenated roster, can HC Zac Taylor improve his team and lead them back into the playoffs? Or will Joe Burrow be unable to hold this franchise together?
3 Position Battles To Watch:
Wide Receiver: John Ross, Tee Higgins
With their 2nd round pick, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Tee Higgins, the playmaker from Clemson. He is most likely to replace John Ross who was a solid receiver in 2019 until he was injured. During the offseason, the Bengals declined Ross’ fifth-year option. This means that Ross may not even be on the roster after the 2020 season. Both will be fighting for the WR3 spot if A.J. Green stays healthy during the season. If Ross can fend off Higgins, he could get an extension from the Bengals, but if he cannot, Higgins will be taking his spot permanently.
Corner Back: Trae Waynes, William Jackson, Mackensie Alexander, Darius Phillips, LeShaun Sims, Tony Brown
The Cincinnati Bengals’ cornerback room is full this offseason. With the influx of new veterans such as Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander, both from Minnesota, the younger players will have an uphill battle if they want to start. LeShaun Sims, formerly of the Titans, was solid for the few years he has played, but like Tony Brown, Packers, will have to prove himself to the Cincinnati coaching staff. William Jackson and Darius Phillips were both solid corners and have an advantage by knowing the system. However, if they want to start, they are going to have to improve greatly.
Linebacker: Jordan Evans, Germaine Pratt, Brady Sheldon, Josh Bynes, Austin Calitro, Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither
With the inability to stop the run in 2019 the Bengals drafted 3 linebackers in the draft. Now Cincinnati has 9 linebackers on their roster, including 4 rookies. Bynes is expected to start as the veteran back, newly acquired from Baltimore. However, that leaves many spots open for rookies Logan Wilson and Akeem Davis-Gaither to make their mark in the preseason and get on the roster. If the rookies don’t impress, however, others such as Germaine Pratt and Austin Calitro will have to step up and start week 1.
Ready To Break Out: Darius Phillips
Although he had lackluster overall stats in 2019 there are two stats of his that did stand out, his interceptions and returns. In 2019 Phillips head the Bengals with 4 interceptions in only 6 games. He also had 381 return yards on 20 attempts. If Darius Phillips is able to break out of his role as a backup corner and start for Cincinnati, he should be able to become one of the better corners in the league. But with a crowded CB room for the Bengals, it won’t be easy for Phillips to come out on top without some hard work.
Rookie To Watch: Joe Burrow
The first overall pick in the 2020 Draft Joe Burrow had a record-breaking campaign in 2019. He set several records with 60TDs, 5700 yards, and a 76.3 completion percentage. To emphasize how good, he was he did all of this in 15 games and only threw 6 interceptions. If Joe Burrow is as half as good as he was at LSU, he will become the savior the Bengals need.
Fantasy Sleeper: Tyler Boyd
In 2019 Tyler Boyd was forced to become WR1 after A.J. Green became injured. During 2019 his efficiency dropped as he faced better corners and was not allowed to play from the slot. Despite all of this Tyler Boyd still had 90 receptions for over 1000 yards and 5TDs. Once Green returns healthy, Boyd may lose some of his receptions, but if placed back in the slot his efficiency can improve greatly. There is a lot of risk in Tyler Boyd, but if he does produce, he will produce big.