Shark Bites

Bengals QB Andy Dalton likes what he's seen from WR John Ross early this offseason. “He looks good. Completely different than he did last year,” Dalton said. “You can tell he worked hard. It looks like he’s getting back to where he was. He looks smooth. Everyone knew he was fast, but he’s not just a straight-line guy. He can stop and go. He’s got some shiftiness to him." Ross went catch-less as a rookie after undergoing shoulder surgery prior to the draft and then injuring his knee in the preseason finale. “Last year he was trying to learn and rehab his shoulder at the same time," Dalton said. "But seeing it on paper and actually going out and doing it are two completely different things. Now that he’s had an offseason to get healthy, you can tell. He’s catching the ball really well. He’s going up and getting it the little we’ve done so far.” The 9th overall pick of last year's draft still boasts plenty of upside. He's a "buy" target in dynasty leagues and worth a late-round fliers in redrafts.

The Bengals selected Florida State WR Auden Tate with the 4th-to-last pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. Tate bombed his Combine workout, plodding to a 4.68-second 40 time and finishing with a 3rd percentile SPARQ score. He’ll struggle to create separation as a pro but does have some intriguing contested-catch ability. Tate goes 6’5, 228 pounds with 92nd percentile arm length, strong hands and nice body control. Per Pro Football Focus, he hauled in 66.7% of his contested targets last year — 6th best in the country. But Tate’s bottom-barrel measurables — plus the fact that he’s a 7th-rounder — make him a long shot for fantasy value.

The Bengals added Miami RB Mark Walton in the 4th round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Walton might have gone much higher had he been able to enter last year’s draft. He broke out for 1,117 yards and 14 TDs on a 5.3 yards-per-carry average in 2016, adding another 240 yards and a score on 27 catches. He averaged 7.6 yards per carry through 5 games this past season, but his campaign was cut short by a right ankle injury that required surgery. Walton then disappointed in the pre-draft process, registering a 15th percentile SPARQ score at 5’10 and 202 pounds. He joins a crowded Bengals backfield alongside Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard. Mixon is signed through 2020; Bernard 2019.

The Bengals spent 3rd-round NFL Draft picks on Texas LB Malik Jefferson and Ohio State DE Sam Hubbard in Round 3 of the NFL Draft. Jefferson delivered 110 tackles as a 2017 junior, including 10 tackles for loss. He also tallied 13 career sacks after arriving as a top recruit. HC Marvin Lewis said he believes Jefferson can play all 3 LB spots, according to Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Jefferson could compete for the middle or strong-side jobs soon, or fill in early for once-again-suspended Vontaze Burfict on the weak side. Hubbard, meanwhile, tallied 17 sacks across 3 college seasons and posted 13.5 total tackles for loss in 2017. He'll join a solid DE rotation in Cincinnati.

Bengals RB Joe Mixon has dropped weight this offseason and is currently tipping the scales at 225 pounds, according to Geoff Hobson of the team's official website. Mixon reportedly showed up to rookie minicamp last year at 238 pounds -- 12 pounds heavier than he checked in at the Combine. Shedding some lbs. usually works out well for RBs, so consider this report good news for Mixon's 2018 fantasy value. He's coming off a mostly disappointing rookie campaign but has breakout potential with Jeremy Hill out of the way this year.

Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict drew a 4-game suspension Friday for a PED violation. He’ll certainly appeal, but we’ll see how that goes. We’ll also see how the situation affects a Bengals LB corps that added Preston Brown in free agency Friday

The Bengals on Friday signed LB Preston Brown to a 1-year deal. That’s a surprisingly small commitment for a guy who has started since entering the league, given the money flying to other LBs early in free agency. Brown should be the favorite to start in the middle for Cincinnati this season but might not be in on all sub packages. We’ll see, too, how Vontaze Burfict’s PED suspension impacts Brown’s role.

The Bengals have signed TE Tyler Eifert to a 1-year deal, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. We never heard Eifert connected to another team, which likely means he didn't draw much interest on the open market. That's not a big surprise considering he's missed 41 games over his 5 NFL seasons and is coming off back and knee surgeries. Eifert turns just 28 in September and has scored 18 TDs in his last 23 games, so there's upside here. But he can't be viewed as more than a TE2 in 2018 fantasy drafts.

TE Tyler Eifert has been medically cleared for OTAs and to play in 2018, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The free-agent-to-be underwent back surgery in October -- his 2nd in a 10-month span. He also had a procedure to remove a cyst on his knee in November and has ankle, shoulder, neck and elbow injuries on his resume. Eifert has been productive when healthy and is still only 27. But that injury history will make him an interesting case in free agency -- and an extremely risky pick in 2018 fantasy drafts.

3:12pm EST 12/31/17

Bengals RB Joe Mixon (ankle) is active for today’s game against the Ravens. He was reportedly a game-time decision and will be playing at less than 100%. Mixon is a low-end fantasy starter vs. a tough Baltimore run defense.

The Bengals expect RB Joe Mixon (ankle) to play against the Ravens today, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, although a final decision won't be made until pregame warmups. That suggests Mixon won't be anywhere close to 100%. Throw in a tough Baltimore run defense, and the rookie looks like a low-end RB2 for Week 17.

Bengals OLB Vontaze Burfict (shoulder) is doubtful for Sunday's finale against the Ravens. Burfict missed practice all week after suffering the injury against the Lions in Week 16. Cincinnati has allowed 149 rushing yards per game in the 5 contests Burfict has missed this season, so this is good news for Ravens RB Alex Collins.

Bengals RB Joe Mixon (ankle) is questionable for this weekend's game against the Ravens after putting in limited practices on Thursday and Friday. We'll look for an update on his status on Sunday morning, but his game doesn't kick off until 4:25 pm ET. Mixon will be a volume-based RB2 if he suits up. Ditto for Gio Bernard if Mixon ends up inactive.

Bengals OLB Vontaze Burfict missed his 2nd straight day of practice Thursday with a shoulder injury that knocked him out of Week 15's win over the Lions. That makes Burfict look unlikely to play in Sunday's finale against the Ravens. Burfict's absence would be bad news for the Bengals run D. He missed clashes with the Bears and Vikings recently. Opponents that combined for 356 rushing yards.

Bengals RB Joe Mixon (ankle) returned to a limited practice on Thursday. That gives him a shot to play against the Ravens this weekend. We'll get another update on the rookie tomorrow.

Bengals RB Joe Mixon (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday. He went down early in last weekend's game and never returned. The rookie seems unlikely to play in Sunday's finale vs. the Ravens. That'd leave feature-back duties to Gio Bernard.

Bengals RB Joe Mixon headed back to the locker room in the 1st quarter of Sunday's game against the Lions with an ankle injury. He's officially questionable to return. We'll pass along an update when we get one.

UPDATE: Mixon only played 7 snaps against the Lions.

Bengals S George Iloka (shoulder) is active for today's game against the Lions. Use him as you normally would (which is way down the DB list) in IDP leagues.

Bengals OLB Vontaze Burfict didn't appear on the team's final injury report after Friday's practice, which indicates he has cleared the league concussion protocol. Burfict put in a full practice Friday and should be set to go for Sunday's game against the Lions. That certainly will help the Cincinnati defense, but the Bengals haven't played the run strong all year. Lions RB Theo Riddick remains a solid fantasy option for Week 16. The defense will also benefit from getting CB Dre Kirkpatrick back after 2 games down with a concussion. That makes for a solid top 3 of Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard and William Jackson to challenge Detroit's wideouts.

Bengals RB Joe Mixon (concussion) put in a full week of practice and isn’t listed on the final injury report. He’ll return as Cincinnati’s lead back against the Lions on Sunday. Mixon tallied 22 and 26 touches in his last 2 full outings.

 
 
 

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