Going into 2011, I was skeptical if there was any Fantasy Value of the Cincinnati Bengals but lo and behold they showcased a couple of future stars in A.J Green and Andy Dalton. The Bengals experienced modest success by making the playoffs, but were quickly dispatched in the Wild Card round 31-10 by the Houston Texans. In order for the Bengals to build on the success of 2011, they need their Offensive Line to improve. The O-Line members that should start 2012 are, Left Tackle Andrew Whitworth, Left Guard Travelle Wharton, Center Kyle Cook, Right Guard Kevin Zeitler, and Right Tackle Andre Smith. This bunch is not a well known group but have some minor value.
Left Tackle Andrew Whitworth was selected in the 2nd round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Bengals. He is an imposing creature at 6’7 and 335 pounds and has imposed his will on the NFL, being considered one of the best at his position. His use of leverage is equally valuable at both Run Blocking and Pass Protection. The highlight of his career to date is catching a one yard touchdown pass from Carson Palmer in 2010.
Left Guard Travelle Wharton was taken in the 3rd round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. He played College Football at the University of South Carolina. In 2008 Wharton signed a 6 year extension to remain with the Panthers but was later released and picked up by the Bengals. Travelle’s first name is actually Glenn, is a decent athlete, but won’t stand out. His value comes as a multi-positional player.
Center Kyle Cook was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Vikings in 2007. He was subsequently released later that year and his rights were obtained by the Bengals. He is a good size for a Center and durable, as he has not missed a game since 2009. He did not allow a sack in 2011, but he is a weak run blocker.
Right Guard Kevin Zeitler was chosen in the 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Bengals. Widely considered one of the best Guards in the country. He is a strong run blocker but is a tad deliberate in his movements. He already jumped up to the top of the depth chart at his position and will have to experience the proverbial “trial by fire” in 2012.
Right Tackle Andre Smith was a 1st round pick of the Bengals in 2009. He had one of the most unimpressive Combines in NFL history, but the Bengals had seen enough game tape to select him in the 1st round. He is not overly tall but he is stout. He has struggled with his conditioning until 2011, and it paid off with him only allowing two sacks.
Now to analyze the numbers…..
The Bengals ranked 20th in total Run Blocking in 2011 alllowing Cedric Benson, Bernard Scott and Brian Leonard to only average 3.81 yards per carry which was well below the NFL average of 4.31 yards per carry. The RB’s ended up stopped at/or behind the line 22% of the time which again is well below the NFL average of 19%. The RB’s only picked up first downs on 3rd or 4th down runs 56% of the time which was, you guessed it, well below the NFL average of 62%. Now don’t let me throw the O-Line completely under the bus. Cedric Benson, who was released after having a 1000 yard season only averaged 3.90 yards per carry, which is substandard. This offseason they acquired Benjarvus Green-Ellis who will immediately step into the number 1 RB role. Two points to note from a Fantasy perspective: Bernard Scott who backed up Benson last year underwhelmed the coaches who felt it neccessary to bring in outside help. Secondly, the O-Line run blocks so poorly that even Arian Foster would struggle to find daylight. The Bengals ran 405 times in 2011 and look for that trend to continue. The RB’s ran behind the Center/Guards 56% of their rushing attempts, and not very well mind you. They experienced their least success running behind the Center/Guards to the tune of 3.50 yards per carry which was 3rd last in the NFL. They experienced their most success running behind the hulking LT Andrew Whitworth to an average of 4.66 yards per carry, which ranked 6th in the NFL. To summarize, if the O-Line can’t create running lanes, then “The Law Firm” won’t have much success in 2012.
The Bengals ranked 4th in Pass Protection in 2011 only letting Andy Dalton get sacked on 4.5%of his dropbacks. The NFL average was 6.7%. The O-Line might have been unsuccessful creating space for the RB’s but the must have clogged the lanes the pass rushers used to get to the QB. Dalton has a knack for making quick decisions but the O-Line afforded him enough time to manouever. Dalton has modest value, A.J Green has definite value but I worry about the secondary receivers and the entire running game..
The statistics you have seen here were graciously provided by www.footballoutsiders.com
Next team is Cleveland.