NFL free agency started on March 18th, but technically does not end until the end of the season. However, after a firehose of news the first week, and another run the second week, things quiet down to a trickle. There are still big names out there, but it’s going to take some time to get them signed, sealed and delivered.
With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at where teams stand after the early rush of free agency and what it means for fantasy football. We’re going to take a look at the skill positions, breaking down what the starting lineup and reserves will look like to assess fantasy value heading into August drafts.
Today, we’re taking a look at the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals have upgraded their defense by adding Trae Waynes and Vonn Bell to the secondary bolstering the defensive line with D.J. Reader. They also hung on to A.J. Green by franchise tagging the wideout for the 2020 season. Cincinnati’s most important offseason acquisition will be whoever it selects with the first pick in the NFL Draft.
Starter: Andy Dalton (for now)
Backups: Ryan Finley, Jake Dolegala
Dalton had the worst season of his career in 2019, totaling 3,494 passing yards with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He was QB27 in standard leagues and QB25 on DraftKings with those numbers. If he’s not traded, before next season, he’ll have little to no fantasy value in 2020.
Cincinnati will likely use the top pick in the upcoming draft to bring in LSU’s Joe Burrow, and he’s expected to serve as Dalton’s successor and assume the starting job in Week 1. Burrow will have considerable dynasty league value, but little to no re-draft league value.
If Dalton remains a Bengal, the veteran be in more of a mentorship role. If Dalton starts for a new team, don’t expect him to finish higher than 15th in standard leagues. He’ll still have big-game potential with the right personnel around him.
Starter: Joe Mixon
Backups: Giovani Bernard, Trayveon Williams, Rodney Anderson
Mixon finished just outside the top 10 for running backs in standard leagues, PPR leagues, and on DraftKings last season and produced at about the same level he did in 2018. He eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards for a second straight year in 2019 and caught 35 passes for 287 yards and three scores. Mixon tallied eight total touchdowns.
Mixon is coming off a career-high 278 rushing attempts, and Giovani Bernard’s role in the offense is diminishing. I think Mixon could have his best season yet in 2020 — especially since Burrow played with a versatile running back in Clyde Edwards-Helaire at LSU, who was also a valuable asset as a receiver. Mixon has a good shot at becoming a top 10 fantasy running back in multiple formats.
Starters: A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross III
Backups: Auden Tate, Alex Erickson, Stanley Morgan
Green sat for all of 2019 with an ankle injury after missing nearly half of 2018, but is back healthy ahead of the 2020 season. He has been a top 10 fantasy wideout in standard formats for four of the seven healthy seasons he has under his belt and cracked the top five twice. The seven-time Pro Bowl player is one of the NFL’s most consistent at his position when healthy and will likely inherit a quarterback who’s fresh off throwing for an FBS record 60 touchdowns en route to a national championship. Burrow knows how to make use of his most talented targets and helped two of LSU’s best two receivers combine for 3,320 receiving yards and 38 touchdowns. The floor for a healthy Green is top 15, so the top 10 could be within reach.
Starter: C.J. Uzomah
Backups: Drew Sample, Mason Schreck, Cethan Carter
Uzomah ranked 41st among tight ends in standard leagues last season, but that was when he played second fiddle to Tyler Eifert, who has since signed with Jacksonville Jaguars. It’s difficult to gauge what Uzomah’s ceiling is, but it’s safe to say he should move up at least a few spots in 2020. He tallied 27 receptions for 242 yards and two scores in 2019 and can improve upon those numbers as the best option at his position.