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For a fourth straight season, Razzball will be interviewing local NFL beat writers for some actual in-depth football knowledge to shed some additional light on our fantasy football knowledge.  Keep your eye out for an interview for every NFL team through the summer.  This installment comes courteous of Josh Kirkendall from leading Cincinnati Bengals blog Cincy Jungle (date of interview – August 2nd): 

1) I’ve seen a lot of negativity on Andy Dalton floating around there, and despite leading the Bengals to a 4-1 record down the stretch in the final five games, he only threw 4 total TDs in those games.  Then it was a rough game for him in a loss to the Texans in the Wild Card.  Is Dalton going to be that flashy fantasy QB we saw in the first 10 games last year, or are defenses figuring him out?

There’s always fluidity when discussing Dalton’s prospects, usually led by mainstream impressions that he inhibits physical limitations. The debate is further compounded by a deep hunger to label him as a franchise quarterback, which is naturally an incompatible marriage for any quarterback that’s entering his third season that was originally drafted outside of the first round.

Could he be elite? Does he make the players around him better? Or does he need better players to be more consistent? If you ask me, he’s the latter. When Cincinnati’s running game produced, when his receivers were healthy (and properly sorted), Dalton’s numbers were ridiculously good. When Dalton didn’t have help around him, or if he played a game with significant implications, he struggled.

That being said, the players around him are better. As long as there’s no adversity or injury that impacts Dalton’s supporting cast, he could have a great year. But he can’t do it on his own. He’s not an elite-caliber quarterback. Not yet.

2) Dalton’s #1 target A.J. Green is an absolute beast, but there aren’t too many consistent options to keep defenses off him.  Jermaine Gresham was solid last year, but is there any concern with Green getting so much attention from opposing defenses?  I know he’s been playing against frequent double teams his whole career, but will defenses try to amp it up even more?

Early during the season, before the Bengals introduce the weapons remaining in the passing game, defenses will obviously target Green’s intermediate and vertical routes. Usually the cushion is so soft that he could run five-yard hook and curls all afternoon without much interference from the defense.

Ultimately it comes down to the rest of the team.

Second-year receivers Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones should make similar progress that most second-year receivers do.  Rookie Tyler Eifert is a versatile asset who has been practicing at “X” “Y” and even slot; solidified with how the team is using him during training camp. However, we project that he’ll primarily play as a tight end, joining two-time Pro Bowler Jermaine Gresham in duel-tight formations. But it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him lined up anywhere on the line of scrimmage.  Rookie running back Giovani Bernard figures to impact the passing game out of the backfield, giving offensive coordinator Jay Gruden the type of weapon a west coast offense needs.

Green will always be the focus of opposing defenses; there’s no getting around that. Will the rise of others help free Green’s routes? Absolutely.

3) One of the guys hoping to alleviate the aforementioned pressure on Green is Mohamed Sanu who went on a nice mid-season run last year before getting injured.  Any fantasy sleeper value in Sanu who looks to enter the year as the WR2?

I think there’s plenty of value there, especially in the Red Zone. He was extremely lethal scoring touchdowns (even as a passer), using his body to shield defenders. When it matters the most, he knew how to produce. We’re very excited to see what Sanu does for an entire season. One thing we should point out, however, is that we’re not projecting a full-time No. 2 wide receiver – most likely the team will rotate that position among multiple players.

4) As a BenJarvus Green-Ellis owner in several leagues last year, I was happy with the ho-hum but consistent production at my flex.  For all the hate he got, he was still close to an 1100-yard rusher with 6 TDs in 15 games.  That said, the Bengals seem intent on getting a lot of work to rookie back Giovani Bernard.  How is the RB situation looking there?  And I’m going to put you on the spot for season predictions yards and TD-wise for the pair:

Since Jay Gruden was hired in 2011, he’s always desired a two-back system. A big workhorse that eats the tough yards and powers through for short conversions, joined by an athletic back with quick feet that can help in the passing game. Cincinnati tried applying that system in 2011 with Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott, but it didn’t work. They tried again last year, but Scott was hurt all season and there wasn’t a replacement for the one-two punch.

Green-Ellis will be the primary back that will start, perhaps a first-down option, short third down and goalline situations. Green-Ellis led the NFL with the most conversions (14) on third-and-one opportunities and actually converted all of his attempts except for one. Giovani Bernard would be the change-of-pace player, offering third down routes in the passing game but used extensively between the 20s. If a Bengals fan is reading this, we’re envisioning a James Brooks and Ickey Wood relationship with Bernard and Green-Ellis filling those roles respectively.

Prediction-wise, I’m going 800 yards rushing for BenJarvus Green-Ellis and ten touchdowns. Bernard will have over 1,200 yards from scrimmage, perhaps a 600-yard split running and receiving. Let’s say six touchdowns total for Bernard.

5) Out of all the players unmentioned heading into the season, which Bengal do you think has the best shot at fantasy relevance that’s a little off the radar?

I wouldn’t sleep on Marvin Jones. Good football speed makes him a strong vertical threat and quick scorer. Had some problems with his hands catching the football, but he’s had a strong training camp this year.

  1. JFK says:
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    Dalton + Bernard for Romo + Lance Moore in a PPR – which side wins, and is it close?
    Thanks!

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @JFK: I definitely think it’s close, I’ve never been a big Lance Moore guy, take out week 17 in a meaningless game vs. a terrible CAR secondary and he was 61 for 920 and 6 TDs, and I think that’s about what he is. I’d take the Bengals, especially with Bernard getting a ton of work in the passing game/third downs, think he has the highest upside of all those guys, yeah Romo will score more, but QB very deep, think Dalton is fine where he is. Longest answer ever? Maybe!

      • JFK says:
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        @JB Gilpin:

        Yup, definitely high on Bernard and not buying the naysayers on Dalton…with Green, Gresham, Sanu and now Bernard around him, I think he continues to make strides, whereas w/Austin and Witten a year older and a step slower, and DeMarco constantly dealing w/injuries, I could see Romo throwing for more yards but fewer TDs than Dalton.
        Moore is still a deep threat in a high-octane offense, but with Wayne, Decker, Gordon and Andre Roberts to fill two WR slots, don’t really need him.

        On that note, what do you see for Roberts this year?
        Palmer’s still got a strong arm, and with the Cardinals running a lot of 3 WR sets, Roberts should get plenty of looks w/Fitzgerald, Floyd, Housler and Mendenhall garnering defenses’ attention.
        Their defense was solid last year, but hoping they’ll still need to sling it plenty with the Niners, Seahawks and Rams in their division – 70 receptions, 1,000 yards and 8 TDs seem feasible?
        That’s only 6 receptions, 200 yards and 3 TDs off from his totals last season when the Cards’ had Kolb & Krew upchucking the ball.

        I see your long answer and raise!

        • JB Gilpin

          JB Gilpin says:
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          @JFK: Haha well played sir! I like Roberts as a value pick late, I don’t think a huge ceiling, but not a low floor either, think he can push to close to/just over 1,000 yards. They will definitely need some offense, I think the TDs in your projection maybe a couple high, other than that, agree. Kolb and Krew – definite upchuckers, was brutal, glad no Fitz on any of my teams last year…

  2. run dmc says:
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    Do you know if you can put lattimore on ir in yahoo leagues? They first put him on pup/ir but it now states reserve/nfi status. They say it works the same as pup but I’m hoping it still means injured reserve. I’ve never heard of that injury classification

  3. Goldschmidt On Her Chest says:
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    Draftin my keeper tonight. Oooooweee! Keepin
    Ridley 8th rd
    Cruz 9th
    Morris 10
    Kaepernick 11
    There is NO flex. 3 Wrs 2rbs. Having 2 rbs already should I go WR WR first 2 picks? (9th pick overall)
    Wrs to be avail at that point will be Fitz, White, andre, bowe, colston. Or I could go Wr Rb and get chris johnson or frank gore along with 1 of those recievers. Or if I wait til 3rd rd for backup Rb ill be lookin at matthews, bradshaw, richardson and WRs around 3rd would be decker, welker, nelson, d jackson. Any thoughts dude? I’m kinda thinkin fitz and cj2k then welker vernon davis with my first 4 you think I should go a diff route?

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @Goldschmidt On Her Chest: like getting Fitz then CJ and then maybe trade. I’m all out on Welker personally, Id rather upside of Jordy especially since he’d be your WR3. I’m waiting on TE unless I get Graham, so Id pass on Vernon Davis, but that’s just me, and get another RB or WR best available… Good luck in your draft!

      • Goldschmidt On Her Chest says:
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        @JB Gilpin: thanks man! There is also slim slim chance of marshall making it to me. If that’s the case I go marshall, fitz yea?

          • Goldschmidt On Her Chest says:
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            @JB Gilpin: crossin my fingers those turds infront of me don’t draft him! Haha. Theres a chance!

  4. Mark says:
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    I pick 7th in my 12 team league 0.5PPR start 3 WR, 2B and 1 flex. I’m expecting my first 2 picks to go either Calvin Johnson-Stephen Jackson or Trent Richardson-Brandon Marshall. I like having a top wideout to go with a top RB. 3rd round I’m thinking either Andre Johnson or Frank Gore. Who would you go with? Andre is ranked higher in your overall rankings, but my thought is I could get a solid WR in the 4th like Colston, but next best RB who I’d have a shot at is Ivory. I want Ivory, but it would be nice to plug him into my flex rather than count on him to be my RB2. Any thoughts?

    Also, you state in your comments on Andre that you won’t be drafting him this year, but from look of where you have him ranked, he’ll be on a lot of your teams. Unless you pass on him for guys below him, but then what’s the point of ranking him #22 overall?

    Thanks for the help. Love the information and humor of the site!

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @Mark: Yea I think I’d take Gore too with the premium on RBs. The rankings aren’t mine, there our lead editor Sky’s, and obviously we have different opinions on some guys :) You can always ask him about his Andre man-love on any of his articles, but for me, conservative offense, peak season last year for this point in his career, rather other guys in that range.

  5. bryan says:
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    Bernard/ivory/Lacy/vareen as a 3rd RB/flex draft option. Who do you prefer or how would you rank them.

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @bryan: I’d go Ivory, Lacy, Bernard, Vareen. So I’d want Ivory.

  6. run dmc says:
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    Have the 2nd pick overall in a redraft league. No ppr. Who would u take? Assuming ap goes 1. I’m in between dmart, spill, McCoy, trich personally.

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @run dmc: I’d probably take Martin, I buy Sky’s love for him, but not over AP, he’s my clear #2

  7. x says:
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    Antonio Brown vs the titans or Lamar Miller vs the Browns in week 1? 1 PPR

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @x: Would wait a little longer, right now, probably Brown

  8. Goldschmidt On Her Chest says:
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    Looks like my draft isn’t gonna go AT ALL like I had planned. Colston or Wayne in PPR?

  9. jake says:
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    Sproles/ Miller/ Wilson .5PPR league… how would you rank them?

    Also would you prefer a team consisting of:
    Team A: Forte/Miller/Sproles/ Dez/TY/Romo
    Team B: Forte/Miller/Sproles/Colston/TY/Brees
    TeamC: Forte/Miller/Bernard/Bowe/TY/Romo

    (Keep in mind its 6 pts for passing TD .5 PPR 12 team + nonqbFlex spot)

    Thanks man love the site…

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @jake: thanks for reading! I’d personally go Sproles Wilson Miller, but I’m biased against Wilson after Nick’s love for him last year not working out on the podcast. And I’d take team B. By far best QB, more I look at it, don’t think it’s too close. Thanks again for reading!

  10. jake says:
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    i tend to agree with you in regards to sproles- what about team B comapred to

    the following two: (last comparison I promise!)

    Forte/Brees/sproles/wilson/TY
    Forte/Brees/Sproles/Bowe/TY/Richardson
    Forte/Dez/Sproles/Stafford/TY/Richardson

    Also- whens the next podcast coming out????

    gratzi

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @jake: Think still team B close tho… Next pod records tomorrow and will be up Wednesday, in season pods will be up Monday afternoons. Thanks for listening!

  11. ChiliCheeseConey says:
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    Do I win big in this trade if I deal Brady, Amendola, and Jared Cook for Brees, Graham, and Britt?

    I get the Brees side

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @ChiliCheeseConey: Yea I think so, like Brees more and you destroy TE every week.

  12. jake says:
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    I would say you won BIG TIME

  13. Abe says:
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    Who’s the best of these WR3′s (my other 2 are Dez and Antonio Brown) to start week to wee. Basically are they all in the same range or is there one clear cut guy I should prefer every week out of Boldin, Tavon Austin, Kembrell Thompkins, and Deandre Hopkins? (its .5 PPR)

    Also do you buy the Eddie Lacy hype I drafted him as my flex in this same league..

    Thanks longtime reader love this site!

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @Abe: I’d go Tavon. Just recorded this week’s Pod and talked about how I like him in PPRs. Think he gets catches every game with relatively low floors. I’m not huge on Lacy, but fine with him being a flex early on. A little worrisome it’s another RB mess in GB. Thanks for reading!

      • Abe says:
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        @JB Gilpin:

        Well my RB’s are AP, Ridley, Lacy, Daryl Richardson, and Ingram is that a bad RB set for a 10 team league? Moreno is on the waiver wire I could maybe drop Ingram for him.

        • JB Gilpin

          JB Gilpin says:
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          @Abe: Not at all, Love AP and Richardson for his value, Ridley is decent where he’s going, I’m not huge on Lacy, but like that mix of guys. If you have no other bottom feeder WRs, I might do that, I’d try to have them both tho.

  14. Public Enemy#1 says:
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    Just completed my 15 team PPR auction draft with keepers. What do you think, JB?

    RWilson $1 (Keeper)/ Cutler
    McCoy/Bryce Brown
    DWilson $10 (keeper)/Andre Brown
    Vereen/K Moreno
    Marshall
    Garcon/Thompkins
    Eifert/Sudfeld
    CLE D
    Crosby

    ***I feel the Moreno pick up might be a sneaky play. I wonder how you see the Denver backfield situation right now. I think PManning gets his pick and he will lean toward the guy who has the best chance of keeping him upright.

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @Public Enemy#1: 15 team that’s a pretty solid roster. I do have some question marks though, not huge on Wilson but he is definitely a keeper at that price, and if you’re starting Vereen or Moreno, I would be concerned, despite how deep your league is. Think Vereen is a little overrated right now, I could see Moreno emerging, if he was a late $1 buy, like it.

      • PublicEnemy#1 says:
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        @JB Gilpin: Thanks, JB. Moreno was my Mr. Irrelevant at $1. My flex will likely consist of whoever emerges from the group of Vereen, Moreno and Thompkins. If none of those guys pan out, I know Philly has set out to run off somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-75 plays a game and NYG loves to run the ball inside the 10. Therefore, even though they aren’t lead backs, either Brown could get a fair amount of touches each game and have value.

        • JB Gilpin

          JB Gilpin says:
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          @PublicEnemy#1: Yea there’s definitely upside with all those guys, one should definitely pan out

  15. Public Enemy#1 says:
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    Also completed my 10 team draft yesterday. We get a point per reception, 1/2 point per rush attempt, 1/2 point per pass completion and small bonuses for going over 100 yds rushing/receiving or 300/400 yds passing. Plus all the other standard scoring exists in the league too. We do not start a TE, but they can be used as WRs. What do you think about this one:

    Cam Newton/Eli Manning
    McCoy (Keeper)
    Spiller
    McFadden/ABradshaw
    DThomas (Denver)
    Garcon/Gronkowski/SJohnson
    SF D/ STL D
    Gostkowski

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @Public Enemy#1: Like that team a lot, two front line RBs that will get carries, same with DMC and Bradshaw, Great #1 WR, I love Cam this year, really like that team.

  16. Goldschmidt On Her Chest says:
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    Alright its all done. Didnt go as planned but I like it. Whatcha think. 10 team. Keep in mind no flex. We start 3 WR
    QB-Kaepernick, Eli
    Rb-Morris, MJD, Ridley, Bradshaw
    WR-Cruz, Colston, A Johnson, JNelson, Thompkins, Sanu, Crabtree (just cause keeper. Will be 15th rd keep nexrt year and I will move him to IR once eligible)
    TE- Cook, B Myers
    K-Janokowski
    Def-Seattle

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @Goldschmidt On Her Chest: Not bad, do you start only 2 RBs? Very nice RB depth, love MJD for his value, don’t like Cruz this year but at his keeper cost for you, is fine, still awesome WRs past that, more I’m looking at it and thinking about it, think that’s gonna be a tough team to beat.

      • Goldschmidt On Her Chest says:
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        @JB Gilpin: right!? Yea 2 rbs. Love my depth at RB and WR. Jordy as my 4th wr 1 year removed from a 15 TD season and that was WITH a solid Jennings at the time. Just needs to beat that injury bug. And if Thompkins blows up ill be very stoked. With news of Moreno I’m thinkin of droppin eli for him (eli and Kaep share same bye week so defeats the whole purpose of a backup qb haha)

        • JB Gilpin

          JB Gilpin says:
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          @Goldschmidt On Her Chest: Yup totally buy that move, I hate Eli anyway haha. I just don’t know what to make of the DEN RBs, turning into a mess like the PIT RBs. Moreno should be owned in all leagues now though, changing my tune reading up on him/Broncos news this morning.

          • Goldschmidt On Her Chest says:
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            @JB Gilpin: exactly same here. Even if its just trade bait. Hes someone I want on my roster

  17. Clint (aka Pablo Death) says:
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    Thanks for more great work JB!

    This kinda confirms my suspicions re the Gio hype machines. Sounds an awful lot like the Wilson/Brown tandem in New York that’s also getting talked about so much. It’s too much of a timeshare to grab either RB for me. I’ll take a chance on a Richardson or Ivory who you know will get 2/3 of the carries to hoping Gio or Wilson will break one into the endzone or Brown will be wearing defenses down in the 4th quarters while Wilson sits.

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @Clint (aka Pablo Death): Yea I agree, much rather have either Richardson or Ivory than Gio or obviously BJGE. Thanks for reading!

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