Bengals HC Zac Taylor praised 6th-round rookie RB Chris Evans' pass-catching ability. "He’s a very natural route runner out of the backfield,” Taylor said. “He can split out. That’s one of the things that really jumped out to us at the Senior Bowl, just how dominant he was in those one-on-ones. How natural and easy it looked for him." Cincinnati released pass-catching RB Gio Bernard this offseason, although we're expecting RB Joe Mixon to soak up most of that work this year. Evans remains just a dynasty stash for now but is worth monitoring this summer.
Bengals OC Brian Callahan was asked about his plans for a 3rd-down back this season and had this to say: "I don't want Joe (Mixon) to leave the field, and I think he's up for that challenge." Nice. Mixon has been an excellent pass-catching back dating back to his college days. But that part of his game has never been fully unleashed in Cincinnati. He topped out at 43 catches back in 2018 -- although he was on pace for 56 through 6 games last season. The Bengals cut RB Gio Bernard this offseason and only added 6th-round rookie Chris Evans and undrafted rookie Pooka Williams to the backfield so far. A healthy Mixon is a good bet for a new career high in receptions this year. His ADP at the Round 2-3 turn in FFPC best-ball drafts right now (RB15) makes him a good target.
The Bengals selected Florida K Evan McPherson in Round 5 of the 2021 NFL Draft. He’ll head into the offseason program as the favorite for kicking duties over veteran Austin Seibert. McPherson made 85% of his 60 career FG attempts; he went 5 of 8 from 50+ yards.
The Bengals grabbed Joseph Ossai in the 3rd round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Ossai was very productive at Texas the past 2 years, racking up 29 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. He arrived as an edge player, moved to off-ball LB and then moved back to DE in 2020. Ossai brings a nice mix of pass-rush moves, strength and speed (7th-best speed score in this edge class). Cincinnati let Carl Lawson walk in free agency but replaced him with Trey Hendrickson. Sam Hubbard returns to start on the other side. Ossai should fight for a spot in the edge rotation, though.
The Bengals added LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase with the 5th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. Chase opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID concerns but had nothing left to prove after a massive 2019. He set single-season SEC records with 1,780 yards and 20 TDs. And he did it as a true sophomore battling for targets with Justin Jefferson, who just set the record for receiving yards by a rookie, and Terrace Marshall, who is expected to be a 1st- or 2nd-rounder this year. Chase goes 6’0, 201 pounds but plays bigger. He’s physical through his routes, at the catch point and after the catch. And he’s excellent going deep, leading the nation with 24 catches 20+ yards downfield in 2019, per Pro Football Focus. Chase blew up his Pro Day, blazing a 4.34-second 40-yard dash and registering a huge 41-inch vertical to earn a 98th percentile Relative Athletic Score. “Chase is one of the best wide receivers in the last 10 years,” a longtime scout told The Athletic’s Bob McGinn. “He can take an underneath ball and go 80 yards. He can just run right by you and catch it 60 yards downfield. He’s built like a fullback almost, but can run like a wide receiver. He’s as good as it gets.” Chase reunites with QB Joe Burrow in Cincinnati as part of a loaded WR corps alongside Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Any of those 3 could lead the team in targets this season.
The Bengals have reached a 4-year, $60 million deal with DE Trey Hendrickson that includes $32 million for the 1st 2 seasons, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Hendrickson exploded for 13.5 sacks in 2020, tying for 2nd in the league after collecting just 6.5 total over his 1st 3 pro seasons. Hendrickson was a productive college player, though, including 23 sacks and 30 tackles for loss over his final 2 campaigns at Florida Atlantic. He's also a superior athlete, delivering the 3rd-best speed score among DEs in his 2017 draft class (behind Myles Garrett and ahead of Haason Reddick). Hendrickson figures to take over the void left by Carl Lawson hitting free agency. We'll see how the 26-year-old builds on his 2020 breakout.
According to HC Zac Taylor, Bengals QB Joe Burrow is "on pace to do all the things that we were hoping he'd do." The 2nd-year QB underwent left knee surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL on December 2. Bottom line: Week 1 still looks like a realistic return date for Burrow. He's a top-15 guy in our 2021 QB rankings.
Bengals QB Joe Burrow (ACL) said Tuesday that he hopes to be ready for Week 1 of the 2021 campaign. "That's been the goal for me from the beginning," he said. "They say it's a nine-to-12-month recovery, and the first game is exactly nine months from my injury. We are on pace to do it right now. There is obviously a long road ahead and there are opportunities for setbacks along the road, but as far as right now, it's looking as good as it could for where I am at in the rehab process." Burrow is scheduled to start throwing again in mid-February, 12 weeks after surgery. His recovery will be 1 of the more important fantasy storylines to track this offseason.
The Saints have ruled DE Trey Hendrickson (neck) out for Sunday's game against the Bears. That leaves New Orleans without its season sack leader. The matchup for the Saints defense still looks good, though, against the 2nd-worst offense in the playoffs (behind Washington), according to Football Outsiders DVOA.
Bengals WR Tee Higgins suffered a hamstring injury early in Sunday's game vs. the Ravens. He's officially questionable to return, but don't expect to see him back out there in this meaningless finale. Higgins' rookie campaign ends 92 yards shy of 1,000.
Update: Higgins has been ruled out for the game.
Bengals WR Tyler Boyd (concussion) has been cleared to play in this weekend's finale vs. the Ravens, HC Zac Taylor Friday. Boyd has played just 2 full games without QB Joe Burrow, totaling 15 targets, 8 catches and 58 scoreless yards. He's a low-upside Week 17 fantasy play.
Bengals WR Tyler Boyd (concussion) returned to a limited practice on Wednesday, giving him a shot to play vs. the Ravens this weekend. We'll monitor his progress over the next couple of days.
The Bengals have ruled WR Tyler Boyd (concussion) out for Sunday's game against the Texans. That positions Tee Higgins as the clear #1 WR against a bad Houston secondary. Cincinnati will also get QB Brandon Allen back. The Bengals left him off the final injury report for the week after Allen missed Week 15 with a knee injury. Allen is nothing special but raises the passing-volume ceiling. Higgins looks like a decent WR3 for Week 16.
Saints DE Trey Hendrickson (neck) is inactive for today's game against the Vikings. That could leave more snaps available for DE Marcus Davenport, who ramped up to a season high in total snaps last week against the Chiefs. Davenport carries sneaky upside against a Minnesota offense that allowed 13 sacks over the past 3 games. But there's also risk to a guy with just 1.5 sacks for the season and 2 total QB hits since Week 8. New Orleans will also miss FS Marcus Williams, which improves the passing matchup for the Vikings.
Saints DE Trey Hendrickson is questionable for Friday's game against the Vikings with a neck injury. He put in limited practices Tuesday and Wednesday but closed by missing Thursday's practice. We'll see about his status Friday afternoon.
Bengals WR Tyler Boyd (concussion) did not practice on Wednesday. He seems like a long shot to be cleared in time for Sunday's game vs. the Texans. Boyd's absence would boost WR Tee Higgins' target projection -- but he'd remain a shaky fantasy play given Cincinnati's QB situation.
Bengals WR Tyler Boyd left Monday night's game against the Steelers with a concussion. He'll need to pass through the league protocol to be eligible to play Sunday at Houston. Having 1 less day than the normal week certainly won't help. Fortunately for fantasy decisions, Boyd has been a shaky option since QB Joe Burrow went down.
Bengals QB Brandon Allen (knee) has been ruled out for Monday night's game vs. the Steelers. QB Ryan Finley gets the start. Cincinnati is currently implied for 13 points.
Bengals QB Brandon Allen (knee) did not practice on Thursday. The team is still hoping he's able to play against the Steelers on Monday night, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Tyler Dragon. QB Ryan Finley will be thrown to the wolves if Allen can't go.
Bengals WR Tee Higgins (hamstring) is active for today’s game against the Cowboys. The hammy and Cincinnati's QB play leave the rookie as a shaky fantasy play.
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