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Your team is currently being rated by the projections of David Dodds           Switch to: Maurile Tremblay       Bob Henry       Jason Wood      

QB: Marcus Mariota, Andy Dalton
RB: Melvin Gordon, Christian McCaffrey, Mark Ingram, Rob Kelley, Adrian Peterson, Mike Gillislee, Jonathan Stewart
WR: Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, Michael Crabtree, Larry Fitzgerald
TE: Martellus Bennett
PK: Wil Lutz
TD: Cincinnati Bengals


In a competitive league, almost every team has a weakness. It's almost impossible to build a team that is strong at all three core positions (quarterback, running back and wide receiver). As you probably suspect, we perceive your weakness to be at the quarterback position. Of all the deficiencies to have though, this is usually the easiest one to mask.

Footballguys owner David Dodds even recommends you go into your draft with the goal of landing the top RBs and WRs while waiting to grab QBs late. Value-Based Drafting principles also suggest that teams constructed in this manner end up being strong. But for this team to reach it's full potential, you might need to have a quick trigger finger at the QB position and stay on the look out for good quarterback help. Last year Dak Prescott could be had very cheap in August, but ended up contributing to a lot of fantasy championships. In 2015 it was Blake Bortles; in 2014 it was Ben Roethlisberger; in 2013 it was Nick Foles. Quarterbacks like these can be found every year, and that could be the key to your team's success.

So although this team isn't perfect (few are), it should still be a strong contender.

Players we particularly like on this team include Michael Thomas, Rob Kelley, Andy Dalton, Jonathan Stewart, and Wil Lutz. We have all these guys ranked ahead of where they are typically being drafted.

Bottom line:
  • With great inseason management, we think you have about a 90 percent chance of making the playoffs.
  • With good inseason management, we think you have about a 80 percent chance of making the playoffs.
  • With average inseason management, we think you have a 71 percent chance of making the playoffs.

In any event, we wish you the best of luck. Here's hoping all your weeks are like week 9 of 2016:

Melvin Gordon vs. TEN: 261 combined yards, 1 TD
Mark Ingram vs. SF: 171 combined yards, 2 TD
Marcus Mariota vs. SD: 313 passing yards, 4 TD
Michael Thomas vs. SF: 73 receiving yards, 2 TD
Julio Jones vs. TB: 111 receiving yards, 1 TD

QB Summary:

We have Marcus Mariota rated #11 among quarterbacks, which makes him a viable starter if not an exciting one. Andy Dalton, our #16 quarterback, should be solid as a backup, but we're not sure if he can hold down the fort as a starter if circumstances force him to be one.

Incidentally, these two have a terrific combined schedule and a decent playoff schedule too. If you simply played the one with the better matchup each week, this is the schedule you'd face:


RB Summary:

Your starting running backs should be adequate but not great. They don't stand out as difference-makers, but both should be OK. Our projections have Melvin Gordon ranked sixth and Christian McCaffrey ranked at #20.

Your bench looks good and should help offset the unexciting starting unit. Tough to do better than Mark Ingram at RB3. Likewise, Rob Kelley should be excellent at RB4.

Since you're strong at the position, you probably don't absolutely need to roster more than four players here. Of your remaining guys, we like Adrian Peterson the best, but you should keep the one you think has the best chance of putting up starter numbers. The rest might be considered expendable if you find you need roster space elsewhere.

WR Summary:

Nice work here. We like all your starting receivers, as our projections indicate that they give you a combined 5.4 point-per-game advantage over an average opponent in this league. Julio Jones is our #2 ranked receiver, Michael Thomas is #5, and we have Michael Crabtree 20th.

Your bench also looks good. Larry Fitzgerald looks great as a fourth receiver.

We might suggest adding a bit more depth here. See the end of the report for some suggestions on who to pick up.

TE Summary:

Martellus Bennett, who we have ranked #11, is below average but probably adequate as a starting tight end. You might get by with only Bennett, but some additional help here probably wouldn't hurt.

Kicker Summary:

With Wil Lutz, you should be above average at the position.

Defense Summary:

When you don't have an elite defense, one option is a committee approach. That is, try to get two cheap defenses whose schedules fit well together. Here are a few teams who we think may be available and whose schedules fit best with the Bengals', along with the combined schedule that each would create:

Bengals   +   Jaguars   =   BAL | TEN | BAL | NYJ | BUF | LAR | IND | IND | JAX | LAC | CLE | CLE | IND | CHI | HOU | SF
Bengals   +   Rams   =   IND | HOU | SF | CLE | BUF | JAX | ARI | IND | JAX | TEN | DEN | CLE | ARI | CHI | MIN | TEN
Bengals   +   Ravens   =   BAL | CLE | JAX | CLE | BUF | CHI | MIN | IND | JAX | TEN | DEN | CLE | DET | CHI | CLE | IND

Is this a dynasty team? Click here to find out how it might look for 2018 season.

Schedule Analysis

Green means GO (good matchup), red means STOP (bad matchup). Main starters highlighted

At the bottom of the table, the Relative Strength row shows you how strong we project your team to be, relative to your usual strength, in that week. This accounts for byes and matchups.

Relative Strength100100100999210210398106100101100100101100100

Schedule and Matchup Notes:

  • Please note that the Relative strength numbers above account for both byes and matchups.
  • Remember that you might have starters on bye in a given week, but still have a high relative strength. This could occur because of favorable matchups, or it might be because you are projected to be missing less production than an average opponent will (your opponents have to deal with byes too).
  • Week 5 presents serious bye week issues for you: Mark Ingram, Rob Kelley, Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, and Wil Lutz are off.
  • Week 8 presents moderate bye week issues: Marcus Mariota, Jonathan Stewart, and Larry Fitzgerald are not playing.
  • Christian McCaffrey is out in week 11, but your opponent will likely have comparable issues with byes.
  • Andy Dalton and Cincinnati Bengals are out in week 6, but your opponent will likely have comparable issues with byes.
  • In weeks 4, 7, 9, 10, and 12 you'll probably be better off than your opponent, as far as byes are concerned.

Potential Free Agents

Listed in order of preference. We don't know exactly who is available in your league, but here is a list of players who might be available and could be upgrades over some of your depth players, listed in order of preference. Your players are listed in red for comparison. Players who might not mesh well with the bye weeks of your key players are grayed out.

QB: we don't necessarily recommend any roster moves here.

RB: we don't necessarily recommend any roster moves here.

WR: Kenny Stills (1), Marqise Lee (8), Cole Beasley (6), Kendall Wright (9), John Brown (10), Tyler Lockett (6), Marquise Goodwin (11), Mohamed Sanu (5), Corey Davis (8), Allen Hurns (6), Torrey Smith (11), Taylor Gabriel (9), Robert Woods (8), Josh Doctson (5), Terrance Williams (6), Chris Conley (10), Seth Roberts (10), Paul Richardson (5), Cooper Kupp (8).

TE: Delanie Walker (8), Hunter Henry (9), Kyle Rudolph (9), Martellus Bennett (), Eric Ebron (11), Coby Fleener (5), Jack Doyle (11), Charles Clay (6), Jason Witten (6), Julius Thomas ().

PK: we don't necessarily recommend any roster moves here.

TD: Baltimore Ravens (10), Philadelphia Eagles (10), Carolina Panthers (11), New York Giants (8), Pittsburgh Steelers (9), Cincinnati Bengals (6), Jacksonville Jaguars (8), Green Bay Packers (8), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1), Los Angeles Rams (8).

Projections and Player Summaries

Marcus Mariota31650537777.52511633592364.811
Andy Dalton33751839017.52411501553350.616

Andy Dalton - Dalton and AFC North counterpart Joe Flacco are similar to evaluate. Both have been successful enough to remain unquestioned starters on their teams, but neither has been among the league's highest caliber of quarterbacks. There's enough sample size on them to know that the range of outcomes they have produced thus far in their careers isn't likely to change. One thing that isn't similar between the AFC North foes is that Dalton has an elite wide receiver in A.J. Green, and his other weapons have improved this offseason as well. John Ross was drafted ninth overall to give them team a deep threat with blazing speed, and Joe Mixon was drafted in the second round to add a playmaker to the backfield. Even Dalton's incumbent weapons should improve this season simply by being healthier. The all-world Green only played 10 games last season, as did Giovani Bernard. Tyler Eifert, a touchdown threat on any play inside the 20, only played eight. The whole offense should have some positive regression this season, even with some losses on the offensive line. Dalton should be in for a bounce-back season if he can stay healthy behind a patchwork offensive line.

Marcus Mariota - Building on an impressive rookie season where he played behind a limited offensive line and receiving corps, the Titans made improvements that helped Mariota become a more efficient passer. Mariota's yards per game dropped from 234 in 2015 to 228 in 2016, but his rate of passing touchdowns increased to 1.7 per game, and his interception totals dropped from 10 to 9 despite playing 3 additional games. Credit for these improvements also goes to the bolstered the offensive line and the ground game. The Titans got strong production from rookie tackle Jack Conklin and free agent running back DeMarco Murray. Rookie runner Derrick Henry also looked formidable in a part-time role. The result was power offense with a dangerous play-action component that also featured set looks for Mariota's running ability and helped him become highly productive in the red zone. The Titans have developed a framework that should allow Mariota to grow into a productive quarterback rather than expect him to carry the offense immediately. Mariota was the No.13 quarterback last year; expect a similar result this year.

Melvin Gordon26010404.08484422208.26
Christian McCaffrey1506454.34534773154.220
Mark Ingram1607154.55402882142.324
Rob Kelley1807294.16211641131.327
Adrian Peterson1606424.06221450114.733
Mike Gillislee1245754.676450104.036
Jonathan Stewart1606404.0512850102.538

Mike Gillislee - While Mike Gillislee is slated to take over LeGarrette Blount's 'big back' role in the offense, he's not remotely the same back. He gives two inches and 33 pounds to Blount, and does not run with the same violence as Blount does either. That said, as of now, Gillislee is going to see the early-down and short yardage work, and if he gets the majority of Blount's carries from 2016, that's a significant amount of work assuming the number of carries continues. There's no sure bet it will, as the backfield is healthier than 2016 was and the team may decide to take it easier on the slightly smaller back. Gillislee may have had a 5.7 yards per carry in 2016, but that was on 101 runs , while Blount carried the ball 299 times. Gillislee wearing down is a real concern.

Melvin Gordon - Facing high expectations entering 2015 rookie season, Gordon didn't come close to meeting them. He averaged less than 3.5 yards per carry and failed to score a touchdown on 217 touches. Even so, Gordon ran hard despite lacking the quickness and speed evident on his college game tapes. It was hard to thoroughly evaluate his ability to find the hole because many of his runs were to assigned gaps that didn't open. Once fully recovered from offseason microfracture surgery, Gordon was substantially better in 2016 despite a 3.9 yards-per-carry average. He earned 1,316 total yards and 12 touchdowns, including 41 receptions--good enough for the No. 8 RB spot in fantasy football. Gordon wasn't known for his receiving ability at Wisconsin because the Badgers don't throw the ball a lot to its backs, but he showed good hands in limited targets as a collegiate star. The fact that he performed well as a receiver soothed some of the sting of losing Danny Woodhead. He'll be the feature back again this year. The only concern is that it's his second year in a row that he didn't start all 16 games (PCL tear in Week 13).

Mark Ingram - As sparingly as Mark Ingram has been used, it is somewhat surprising that in his seventh NFL season, he remains in New Orleans. It should not be a surprise that the team signed Adrian Peterson in April, which will again limit Ingram's carries. Ingram has two years remaining on the contract signed in March of 2015, with salaries of $3 Million this year and $4 Million next, but the guaranteed amounts expired last season. He had career highs last year with 1,043 yards rushing, 5.1 yards per rush and 10 total touchdowns including four on receptions. Even with those career highs, Ingram had only one game with 20 carries and topped 100 yards rushing only three times. The signing of Peterson, as well as the drafting of Alvin Kamara confirms that Ingram will again share snaps and carries. It is even conceivable that Peterson could have a larger role. Ingram has greatly improved as a receiver since early in his career. He was not used much in the passing game his first three seasons, but has averaged 48 receptions the past two seasons. Ingram's usage in the passing game could also be challenged in 2017. The Saints traded a 2018 second rounder and this year's 7th round pick to draft Kamara, who could fit in nicely in a receiving role.

Rob Kelley - Kelley led Washington with 168 carries for 704 yards (4.2 per carry) and six rushing touchdowns as a rookie last year. His play was adequate, but the reality is he benefited from a roster of flawed or one-dimensional competitors. Kelley can be functional as a full-time player, but he's better suited to a committee role. Rookie Samaje Perine should push for playing time if he can grasp pass protection. Until then, Kelley has a chance to parlay a strong camp into fantasy RB2 value.

Christian McCaffrey - After being picked eighth overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, Christian McCaffrey signed a four year, $17.224 million contract with Carolina on May 4 - there will be no protracted negotiations to worry about as he takes over as the lead running back for the Panthers this year. McCaffrey had 632/3,922/21 rushing and 99 receptions at Stanford (with two return TDs as well) - he is a proficient dual-threat back. Additionally, McCaffrey comes from a NFL family (former Broncos' receiver Ed McCaffrey is his dad) so he's seen the grind of the pro game up-close-and-personal - he should be more ready for the off-field challenges of the league than any given prospect from a non-NFL home. He should be a three-down back for the Panthers, though they may prefer veteran Jonathan Stewart in short yardage/goal-line situations. Footballguy Matt Waldman summarized McCaffrey's prospects in the 2017 Rookie Scouting Portfolio, Post-Draft Edition, as follows: 'McCaffrey played in a Stanford scheme that has a ground game nearly identical to Carolina. He'll fit immediately as a two-down runner and three-down weapon when used as a receiver. Think of him as the new DeAngelo Williams to pair with Jonathan Stewart short-term. As his pass protection develops, and the Panthers learn to maximize his receiving skill, McCaffrey has RB1 upside.'

Adrian Peterson - Adrian Peterson has been one of the NFL's best running backs over his career which began a decade ago after being drafted 7th overall by Minnesota. The Vikings declined to pick up his 2017 option and essentially released him. He recently turned 32 years old and has had injury problems in two of his last three seasons. However, he averaged 4.5 ypc in 2015, rushing for 1,485 yards and 11 TDs and also caught 30 passes for 222 yards. He has garnered abundant positive comments so far and has a history of overcoming obstacles, so it would not be wise to sell him short this year.

Jonathan Stewart - As he did in 2015 (242/989/6 rushing while seeing 21 targets for 16/99/1 receiving), Jonathan Stewart managed to appear in 13 games last season for the Panthers, piling up 218/824/9 rushing with 21 targets for 8/60/0 receiving to his credit - he was back below four yards a carry last season, averaging 3.8 yards per tote. Now 30 years old, Stewart has played nine seasons in the league, and the Panthers made a move in the first round of the 2017 draft to get younger at this key position. Rookie Christian McCaffrey figures to be the new starting running back, and he has three-down skills (having caught 99 receptions while at Stanford). Stewart likely has a role as the short yardage/goal line/change-of-pace back for the Panthers this year as he mentors the heir apparent, McCaffrey.

Julio Jones00097151315.610211.32
Michael Thomas00096124813.011190.85
Michael Crabtree0008596911.47138.920
Larry Fitzgerald0009195610.56131.626

Michael Crabtree - Crabtree will turn 30-years old early in the 2017 season and remains in his prime. He spent his first six years with San Francisco before signing with Oakland as a free agent in 2015. In his first two years with the Raiders he led the team 146 targets in 2015 and 145 targets last season. Despite many predictions last offseason that Amari Cooper would steal many of Crabtree's targets, he retained an identical market share and remained Carr's go-to receiver in the red zone. Crabtree has grabbed 17 touchdowns in his two seasons in Oakland and is a strong bet to lead the team in receiving touchdowns again in 2017. Crabtree is an excellent route runner and plays a physical brand of football. His skills should continue to age well as he enters his age-30 season because he isn't overly reliant upon his athleticism. Crabtree should continue in his role as the co-#1 receiver alongside Cooper and is a rock solid fantasy WR2 with low-end WR1 upside.

Larry Fitzgerald - A 13-year veteran whose resume includes 5 seasons as a top-5 fantasy WR Fitzgerald had a top-10 season as a slot receiver in 2015 and followed up as the No. 17 fantasy receiver in 2016. An aging player entering his final year, Fitzgerald has performed well as a slot receiver. Despite lacking the top-5 upside of his prime, Fitzgerald is a workout warrior who keeps himself in supreme shape and still has some of the best hands in the game. Despite dealing with an MCL injury to begin the year, Fitzgerald earned 107 receptions. The Cardinals scheme moves him around the formation to create mismatches and if the team can get consistent play outside from a healthier John Brown, look for another productive fantasy year for the veteran.

Julio Jones - Julio Jones is in the prime years of his NFL career, as he proved in 2016 with an elite showing of 129 targets for 83/1,409/6 receiving (sixth-best fantasy wide receiver during 2016) over 14 games played. He did see a dip in targets during 2016 after handling a ridiculous 203 targets for 136/1,871/8 receiving during 2015. Jones is just 28 years old and has missed just three games over the last three seasons while going over 1,400 yards receiving in each of those campaigns (he had 163 targets for 104/1,593/6 receiving during 2014). He seems set to dominate the opposition again during 2017, even though the team is transitioning to a new offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian. One quick medical note on Jones - he had surgery to repair a bunion on his foot that had been bothering him for years, according to Ian Rapoport from the NFL Network. A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. It forms when your big toe pushes against your next toe, forcing the joint of your big toe to get bigger and stick out. Rapoport reported that he was told the surgery will not affect Jones' availability for training camp.

Michael Thomas - The Saints drafted Michael Thomas (6'-3" and 212 pounds) in the 2nd round a year ago. He earned Brees' confidence early and had a team leading 92 catches for 1,137 yards and a team leading 9 TDs in his rookie campaign. Thomas showed promise early in last season's pre-season work-outs and was productive out of the gate catching 6 passes on 6 targets for 58 yards in his first game. After he was drafted by the Saints, Thomas remarked that he considered his competitiveness, route running, hands and passion for the game as his greatest strengths. His self evaluation rang true during his rookie season. The Saints trade of Brandin Cooks shows the team is confident in Thomas's ability to be their top receiver. On the down-side, he will undoubtedly draw the top corners this season

Martellus Bennett5465312.16101.311

Martellus Bennett - The Packers have been looking for a big bodied and effective 'move' tight end for a long time. Jared Cook seemed like the answer, though he was a bit inconsistent, and moved on in free agency. Despite being a journeyman, Bennett has been effective four out of the last five years and looked great stepping up in lieu of Rob Gronkowski when the Patriots tight end was hurt last season. The math on a new contract didn't work for New England, but their loss should be Green Bay's gain as Aaron Rodgers gains another vertical threat who can make tough catches.

Wil Lutz28344647130.06

Cincinnati Bengals38917233621.4116.913

Player News (last 7 days)

"Our view" written by's Cecil Lammey and Sigmund Bloom. Click here for all the news around the NFL, updated constantly.

NFL | Martellus Bennett retires - Free-agent TE Martellus Bennett (Patriots) announced his retirement from the NFL Friday, March 23. Fri Mar 23, 09:04 PM     [Link to story]

Ravens | Michael Crabtree receives support - Baltimore Ravens WR Michael Crabtree will be 'a reliable receiver' for QB Joe Flacco, according to retired WR Anquan Boldin. 'I had a chance to play with Crab for two or three years out in San Francisco,' Boldin said. 'Like I said, competitive guy, he's a crafty guy, a veteran guy, a guy that can really catch the ball.' Sun Mar 18, 09:17 PM     [Link to story]

Footballguys view: Crabtree can perform for Flacco in a similar manner to what Boldin used to do in his days with the Ravens. We can see Crabtree racking up a lot of yards off those drag routes he's famous for. Crabtree's nose for the end zone should help him produce like an upside WR2 for fantasy owners.

Ravens | Michael Crabtree financial details - Updating a previous report, Baltimore Ravens WR Michael Crabtree's three-year contract is worth $21 million. The deal includes $11 million in guaranteed money and could be worth up to $20 million over the first two seasons. Sat Mar 17, 10:12 AM     [Link to story]

Footballguys view: The Raiders moved on from Crabtree, so the Ravens were quick to scoop him up. He should become a favorite target for QB Joe Flacco because Crabtree can get open often and is reliable in the red zone.