Andy Dalton continues to be one of the most underrated fantasy quarterbacks in the NFL. He has thrown over 900 passes in the last two years only allowing 15 interceptions. Since entering the league in 2011, he has averaged 20.3 fantasy pts per game in 6 point per passing touchdown leagues. He's averaged 3 rushing touchdowns and 160 rushing yards per year. In 2015 before his finger injury Dalton was the 3rd best quarterback in the league. We know he has the talent. I think this is the year he takes an even bigger leap forward.
In 2016 the Bengals were riddled with injury. Pass catching running back Gio Bernard, wide receiver AJ Green and tight end Tyler Eifert all missed at least 6 games. Even with this Andy still finished at the tail end of the top 12 in Fantasy pts per game (6ptspp). With these guys coming back to full health and with newly additions running back Joe Mixon and wide receiver John Ross, Dalton has a great chance to be a steal in redraft leagues.
The Bengals selected Washington’s speedster John Ross in the first round of the NFL rookie draft at number 9 overall. He will compete for a starting role with wide receivers Tyler Boyd and Brandon Lafell to play opposite AJ Green. Despite Ross playing through a shoulder injury in 2016 he finished with 81 catches for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns. In three seasons with the Huskies Ross tallied 26 TDs including a school record 4 kickoff return touchdowns. This will give Dalton one of the fastest receiving threats if not the fastest in the NFL. Ross set a combine record with a 4.22 second 40yard dash. Ross had surgery last month to repair a torn labrum. He should be cleared to practice by July. If the Bengals had any doubt about the shoulder I highly doubt they would have taken him at number 9 overall.
Head coach Marvin Lewis is trying to spark his running game. With the 48th overall pick the Bengals take Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon. I think Mixon fits in well with what the team wants out of their running back. He has size, speed, great hands, and the ability to run zone, man, and out of the shotgun. All things Marvin Lewis loves to get out of his running back. Last year at Oklahoma Mixon had 1,812 yards from scrimmage with 16 total TDs averaging 7ypc. He did this with sharing time with Redskins newly drafted Samaje Perine. I believe that the biggest loser in Cincy’s running back committee is Jeremy Hill. I think Gio Bernard has solidified his role there. Although I do think the organization has some concern over the recovery of his ACL injury. Word now is that he may miss the first few games of the season. This opens the door even wider for Mixon. After losing Rex Burkhead to free agency this year they do not have much depth at the position. This is one reason why I think the Bengals hold onto Hill at least for one more season.
The one concern I do have for Daltons season is protection from the offensive line. They lost two key offensive linemen to free agency this year in LT Andrew Witworth and RG Kevin Zeitler. The team did not do much in this year’s draft to fill in the holes on that line. They did draft utility lineman, Utah’s J.J Dielman at 176th overall. This leads me to believe that they are confident in the retooling of their line.
You can usually bank on the Red Rifle to get you about 50 rushing attempts and 3-5 rush touchdowns in the season. That is great for 4pt per pass td leagues where rushing quarterbacks have a little more value.
Last season Dalton had the least amount of td passes (18) since joining the league in 2011, but still got you 4 TDs on the ground. That was tied for 3rd best in the league. With a healthy receiving corps, I believe the passing touchdowns will go up in 17". He did have his 2nd career best in passing yards last year with 4,206. Even if that number comes down, with the increase in passing touchdowns he can easily be a top 10 finisher this season. I’m quite high on Dalton in my early rankings. He is my 9th ranked quarterback in redraft leagues.
Fantasy football calculators ADP has the Red Rifle as the 17th QB off the board in the 12th round. That is pretty good value if you are waiting on QB in redraft leagues. This guy is Mr. reliable when it comes to being on the field. He has only missed 3 games in his 6 seasons with the Bengals. I like to have the security of knowing the quarterback I'm drafting has a healthy track record. You can't score fantasy points when you are healing up on the sideline. The strategy that I implement in redraft leagues is draft a low floor high upside guy like maybe Dak Prescott, Marcus Mariota or Tyrod Taylor, and pair him with a quarterback like Dalton. You know he's going to be out there week in and week out. That's critical when setting your fantasy lineup for the week.