2009 Cincinnati Bengals Fantasy Football Preview

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The 2008 Cincinnati Bengals finished 4-11-1 thus once again living up to their famous ineptitude and giving their fans virtually nothing to cheer about for the majority of the season. Well, what do you expect when you have Ryan Fitzpatrick leading your team? The teams downfall last year can be directly attributed to the elbow injury that sidelined QB Carson Palmer much of the season leaving the reigns to a signal caller who is completely incapable of throwing a downfield pass. Palmer only played in 4 games last year and that clearly impacted the rest of the offense especially the receivers. What do the 2009 Bungles have in store for fantasy owners? Let’s dissect that very topic.

It is amazing to me that teams do not invest more in their backup QB’s and it is absolutely astonishing that someone like Fitzpatrick (now with the Bills) is in the NFL. I watched a few of their games last year and he literally never attempted a pass more than 10 yards downfield. Enough about Fitzpatrick however as Palmer looks 100% and will be under center when the Bengals open their season September, 13th at Paul Brown Stadium against the McDipshit led Denver Broncos. I am looking for the Bengals to rebound this year and possibly make a run at the playoffs and if that holds true will be largely due to Palmer’s rebound. Palmer has been an elite fantasy QB in the past and I believe he has the potential to get back to that level in 2009. First, Palmer’s elbow appears to be 100% based on all reports coming out of Cincinnati. Furthermore, although T.J. Houshmandzadeh has left for Seattle Chad Ocho Cinco seems to be motivated again as he has been working out using a boxing regime. Ocho Cinco called 2009 an “embarrassment” and also said that “words cannot explain what kind of shape I am in right now”. The team also signed former Jet Laveranues Coles and although a step down from Houshmandzadeh will provide Palmer with another nice threat on the outside to go with Ocho Cinco and Chris Henry. I think Palmer could really be in line for a nice year this year and I consider him a low end number 1 QB with high upside potential.

The Bengals may have found themselves their workhorse back with former Chicago Bears castoff Cedric Benson toting the rock in 2009. Although averaging only 3.5 ypc last year Benson seemed motivated and was a nice surprise for Head Coach Marvin Lewis last year rushing for 747 yards and 2 TD’s. Cincinnati elected to bring Benson back signing him to a 2 year deal thus illustrating the teams confidence in him. I actually like Benson this year as a number 3 back with the potential to start as the year goes on. First, Benson will be the workload this year for the Bengals and will also be the goal line back. Moreover, the team released the under achieving Chris Perry leaving the team with just Kenny Watson and rookie Bernard Scott to go along with Benson. Finally, the drafting of LT Andre Smith out of Alabama is another sign for both Benson and Palmer. I really think Cincy will be improved this year and if they are it will be due to Palmer’s passing and Benson’s running. If you can snag Benson this year after the 6th or 7th round you are committing larceny. Neither Scott nor Watson warrant draft picks at this time in any format.

I saw the segment with Ocho Cinco on NFL Network and he called last season an “embarrassment”.

Ocho Cinco on NFL Network set

When you analyse things #85 must surely improve from 2009 when caught a mere 53 passes for 540 yards and just 4 TD’s. Much of this can be directly attributed back to Fitzpatrick but obviously the year was a complete bust and yours truly actually cut Ocho Cinco after 5 weeks because he was such a joke. I actually look for Ocho Cinco to rebound much in the same way I believe the Bengals as a team will. Houshmandzadeh being gone will help as Ocho Cinco will surely see more balls his way. Draft Chad as a nice number 3 WR and if he and Palmer get back on the same page could catapult himself back into number 1 status. Coles is a steady veteran and although I wouldn’t recommend starting him is a nice player to have on your bench to use in a pinch or a bye week replacement. The receiver I really like out of Cincinnati is Chris Henry. Palmer has always had a great rapport with Henry and swears that the troubled receiver has finally gotten his life together off the field. Henry is a huge target with a lot of talent and in the mock drafts I have been participating in has been going very late. Take a chance on Henry if he is available after round 12 as he may pay big dividends for you this year. No Bengal TE is worth drafting at present time.

The addition of LB Rey Maualuga represents a nice addition for the Bengals DST which showed nice improvement as the year progressed. That being said look for other options when it comes to picking your first unit DST. Shayne Graham is serviceable at the all important position of kicker but be leery of the fact that he will be kicking in inclement weather as the season deepens.

In summary, there may be some decent fantasy values this year for the Bengals who will be looking to rebound from last seasons disappointment. Next up: The Cleveland Browns.

Chris Limburg is the fantatical purveyor of OaklandRaidersCentral.com: A Oakland Raiders/Fantasy Football blog that provides commentary on everything that is the NFL. Sign up for my free newsletter at http://www.oaklandraiderscentral.com and receive my fantasy football e-course that will prepare you for your draft and enable you to dominate your league in 2009.