For yet another season, Razzball will be interviewing local NFL beat writers for some in-depth actual football knowledge to sway some insight in our fantasy football knowledge. Keep your eye out for an interview for every NFL team through the summer and check out each one on the “2012 Fantasy Football Team Previews” link. This installment comes courtesy of Josh Kirkendall at Cincy Jungle:
1) Everywhere we look, people are calling for a down year for Andy Dalton. We’re of the assumption it’s the hatred of gingers that is leading to all the dislike. What is your perspective on Andy Dalton and how do you view him for the 2012 football season?
Biased as one might be covering the Cincinnati Bengals, I think there’s subjective evidence that Dalton will undergo more of a noticeable improvement than a decline. Consider this: Last year he didn’t have an offseason with the coaching staff, it was his rookie year and the team was forced to integrate a new playbook piece by piece throughout the season in an effort not to overwhelm him.
Additionally Cincinnati’s offense was led by a first-year offensive coordinator, concerned with integrating an entirely new offensive philosophy without players around to learn until late July. Fast-forward a year and now the entire offense is developing during offseason workouts and OTAs with the coaching staff which was non-existent last year during the lockout.
And physically Dalton came into Cincinnati during offseason workouts having noticeably added muscle in his upper body, with one area beat writer noting that Dalton completed one pass that flew 72 yards in the air before A.J. Green hauled it in.
2) Jerome Simpson is now a Viking and we’re of the opinion it will be Mohamed Sanu as the WR2 in Cincinnatti. Will Sanu be the WR2 in Cincy and if so, will he get enough looks to be relevant for fantasy owners in 2012?
Though it makes as much sense as any one else, it’s somewhat debatable if Sanu is a certainty. Armon Binns isn’t as athletic, but he knows the system. Brandon Tate has more sprinter speed, if they want. And Sanu might be a better fit as a slot receiver.
Either way it’s going to be one of the better training camp battles. There’s a theory floating around that there might not be a certain player at a certain position. Beyond A.J. Green, it very well could turn into a receiver by committee for the No. 2 spot and slot.
3) Cincy signed BenJarvus Green-Ellis over the off-season and then promptly made it a running back by committee between The Law Firm and Bernard Scott. Which running back do you see having the biggest impact on the team for 2012 and will either be fantasy football relevant?
More BenJarvus Green-Ellis than Bernard Scott. Scott has that homerun potential, talented enough to score from any point on the field. However all but one of Green-
Ellis’ 24 touchdowns in the past two seasons have come from the Red Zone.
Jay Gruden has promoted more of a committee, but he’s also admitted that he’ll go with the hot hand. But no matter what, when the Bengals appear to be in a position to score, we’re expecting Green-Ellis to be the primary back.
4) Jermaine Gresham had a solid second season with the Bengals in 2011 and we have him down as a tight end who might burst onto the fantasy football scene for 2012. Are we putting too much faith in him or is the hate of gingers feeding into the ignorance towards Gresham for 2012?
Historically speaking Gresham has put together as good a two-year run as any tight end in franchise history. However in the atmosphere of today’s game, introducing a new gold standard of athletic tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, there’s more being expected out of Gresham because his body type comparatively promotes it.
On the other hand Gruden has suggested earlier this year that Gresham struggled to adapt to the team’s west coast playbook and that once he does, he very well could burst on the scene.
5) The Bengals seem to be the Rodney Dangerfield of defenses; they just get no respect. Despite finishing 9th in total yardage against (real football analysis) and 7th in overall for fantasy purposes (not real football analysis), it seems they’re ranked outside the top 10 everywhere. In your opinion, why is the Bengals defense so underrated and will they show everyone wrong in 2012?
Save for the dreadful 2010 season, the Bengals were No. 4 and No. 7 respectively in total defense in 2009 and 2011. But we think the lack of recognition has more to do with name recognition more than anything. Besides Geno Atkins and perhaps Carlos Dunlap, there’s not a single defender or core defenders that fans or analysts focus on when taking or analyzing the Bengals defense.
Yet they really didn’t warrant much conversation in the second half last year. After defensive tackle Pat Sims suffered a season-ending injury, the team’s rush defense dramatically declined. Now it wasn’t necessarily the result of his injury, rather the point we typically reference for the overall disintegration. For example during the first eight games in 2011, the defense allowed only one team to generate 100 yards rushing. During the final nine games (including the postseason loss to Houston), the rush defense allowed 131.9 yards rushing per game.