2013 Outlook: Nothing is missing from Green's game. You want a guy to make a big play? Green posted 12 gains of 25-plus yards last year and was top 10 in yards after the catch. You want a guy to make a first down? Green had 61 of them. You want an end-zone threat? Green had 19 end-zone targets, and caught seven of those for scores. If he has a limitation, it's the guy throwing him the ball: Andy Dalton's arm strength is average, and that shows in his poor deep-completion rate. But the Bengals do a great job of making Green a focal point of their offense. We can't imagine him failing to post a top-five WR fantasy season in 2013.
2013 Outlook: Bernard is a jitterbugging nightmare to tackle in the open field, a terrific pass catcher, and a sick return man. He didn't produce a whole lot of physical runs at North Carolina, preferring to make defenders miss in the hole, and that caused some NFL teams to worry he's not a three-down player. At least initially in Cincinnati he won't have to be, as BenJarvus Green-Ellis will handle much of the inside work. Consider the Law Firm favored to lead the Bengals in rushing TDs, but consider Bernard the man opposing defenses will fear more. He's a knee-buckler extraordinaire.
2013 Outlook: Give the Law Firm credit: In his first season in Cincy, he eclipsed 1,000 yards and scored six TDs. There were times when he looked the part of a feature back, especially when he topped 100 yards from scrimmage every game from Week 11 to Week 15. But even the Bengals know he isn't a true leading man, and they drafted Gio Bernard in the second round of April's draft. BJGE will have the more valuable share of this platoon, because he's the short TD maker. But Bernard possesses escapability Green-Ellis doesn't, and will put a cap on the Law Firm's fantasy value.
2013 Outlook: Geno Atkins led an aggressive pass rush that tallied 51 sacks in '12, and when the Bengals slapped the franchise tag on Michael Johnson, they likely ensured continued pressure on opposing QBs. However, the real hidden gem in this defense may be Dre Kirkpatrick. The former Alabama corner sat out most of his first season, and his return could give the Bengals an instant boost in coverage, joining Leon Hall to form a daunting tandem. The safeties continue to be an issue and James Harrison must rebound from a poor final season with the Steelers, but this group should be a solid fantasy starter.
2013 Outlook: Dalton began '12 with three 300-yard passing games in his first six starts, but had zero thereafter. Even worse, over the Bengals' final five meaningful contests including the playoffs, Dalton averaged 158 yards passing and racked up six TDs and six INTs. Throwing to A.J. Green cures some ills, but Cincy knows how poor a passer Dalton is going down the field (a 26.3 completion percentage when his attempts travel more than 20 yards in the air, 30th-best in '12), and must manage him to be successful. In an embarrassing playoff loss to Houston, you saw every wart Dalton has: He can be jittery in the pocket, he misses open men, and he throws bad picks. Expect middling numbers in '13.
2013 Outlook: We're not sure the breathtaking playmaker we remember from Oklahoma will ever return. Gresham tore up his right knee during his senior season, and while he's supposedly long since recovered from that injury, we've never seen him get consistent separation as a Bengal. Last year, he finished 31st among TEs in average yards at the catch, and considering he's a terrible blocker and Cincy drafted Tyler Eifert as a first-round pick in April, Gresham is on notice. As long as he stays on the roster, we'd expect Gresham to keep the starting job in 2013, but Eifert will eat into his production.
2013 Outlook: Eifert is a first-round pick from April's draft, a freak leaper and a scary downfield threat, but he landed in a tough spot for immediate fantasy value. Jermaine Gresham is a former first-round pick himself and caught 64 passes last season. And lest you imagine the Bengals could feature many formations with both TEs, the problem is that neither one can block. Maybe Cincy makes a habit of sending both men into pass patterns. We consider it likelier that Eifert and Gresham cannibalize one another's production. If Gresham were to get released, however, Eifert would be worth top 12 consideration.
2013 Outlook: Sanu is slow, but he's a terror coming over the middle and has terrific hands. He caught 115 passes in his final collegiate season at Rutgers, and momentarily established himself as a red zone threat in his rookie year before his season was ended by a stress fracture in his left foot. Sanu's best-case scenario would be a career like T.J. Houshmandzadeh's, which would be valuable for fantasy. Of course, A.J. Green will always be the main man here, while Marvin Jones and rookie TE Tyler Eifert have potential. But watch out for Sanu in the slot, and in the end zone.
2013 Outlook: Hawkins took a long road; he went undrafted out of Toledo, was out of football in 2008, competed on Michael Irvin's reality TV show and then spent two seasons in the CFL before making the Bengals' practice squad in '11. By last year, he'd become the team's slot receiver, and a strong one. Of course, a full 46 of his 51 grabs traveled 10 yards or fewer in the air, so to achieve fantasy greatness Hawkins must make big plays after the catch. And alas, Hawkins suffered a severe ankle injury in camp, and may miss games in September.
2013 Outlook: Burkhead belongs to the genus of RBs who underwhelm with their straight-ahead speed, who always get what's blocked and can power through a defender who's off balance. Productive in his sophomore and junior seasons at Nebraska, Burkhead lost much of his senior year to a sprained MCL. Really, Burkhead seems like a younger version of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the man he'll from whom he'll learn in Cincinnati. This year, Burkhead should mostly sit behind BJGE and fellow rookie Gio Bernard. But in a couple seasons, we wouldn't be shocked if Burkhead assumes the power-back role in Cincy.
2013 Outlook: Nugent was on his way to a decent season last year when he suffered a calf injury in Week 12 that forced him to injured reserve. A former second-round draft pick of the Jets (and a big reason why then-GM Terry Bradway lost his job), "the Noodge" has shaken off his disappointing career in Gotham and done a couple seasons' worth of acceptable work in Cincinnati. He doesn't have an elite thunder-leg, nor do the Bengals tend to get him an outrageous number of attempts. But in a deep league, there are worse options.
2013 Outlook: Johnson beat out John Skelton to be Andy Dalton's backup in Cincinnati. A four-year veteran with experience in a West Coast type system, Johnson also has an elite throwing arm and good mobility. His big problem has always been throwing accuracy. We don't think the Bengals offense would go completely off the rails if Johnson took over, but it wouldn't be an ideal situation for A.J. Green and company.