CINCINNATI – Fantasy football team owners are high on some of the Bengals’ offensive weapons this year.
But even Bengals players themselves are split on which of their teammates they would draft first if they had a fantasy team.
Running back Jeremy Hill and wide receiver A.J. Green are expected to be among the top fantasy football players this season. Both are listed in the Top 20 on ESPN.com's average draft position rankings for ESPN Fantasy Football. Hill, who emerged last season, ranks 17th on the list, while Green – a Pro Bowl selection four straight years – is 20th, based on the average draft positions of team owners in ESPN Fantasy Football online drafts.
Several other Bengals also rank among ESPN's Top 200.
Running back Giovani Bernard is 67th on the list; tight end Tyler Eifert, coming back from a shoulder injury that sidelined him almost all of last season, is 143rd; and receiver Marvin Jones is 179th. The Cincinnati defense/special teams unit checks in at No. 195.
WCPO.com asked several Bengals players which of their teammates (including themselves) they would take first in a fantasy football draft. Here’s what they said:
Running back Jeremy Hill: “I would probably go A.J. (Green). He’s a Pro Bowler, he’s been a Pro Bowler four years in a row, and just his ability to score touchdowns, I think he would be pretty good for fantasy football. I’d actually take as many Bengals as I could, but it would probably come back to bite me on the bye week.”
Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick: “I’d probably take Jeremy Hill – because he’s going to score touchdowns. I’d try to take all my teammates, but he’d be first.”
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth: “A.J. Green, probably. He’s just a great receiver, and he gets a lot of stats. I do understand fantasy enough to know that touchdowns and yards mean a lot, so he would definitely be my guy. I think he and Jeremy Hill would be good, and Gio is a guy that could get some points and, hopefully, this year with him being healthy, Tyler Eifert would be a great one.”
Tight end Tyler Eifert: “Do they say to go with running backs first or quarterbacks? I don’t even know. I’d go with Andy (Dalton) or A.J. (Green) probably. We’ll go with Andy. I think we’ll put up a lot of points as an offense, and he’s part of that throwing the football.”
Cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones: “I don’t know anything about fantasy football. Can I draft Coach Lewis?”
Kicker Mike Nugent: “Andy (Dalton) is my guy. I’d have to go with him. I have a lot of confidence in his ability, and it’s fun to cheer for someone you know so well. Even though he’s on my team, I’m a fan.”
Defensive end Carlos Dunlap: “I’d take Carlos Dunlap. On Twitter, people are always thanking me for helping them win (their fantasy football games), so I must be pretty good. Other than that, I don’t know a whole lot about what helps you win or lose, but I like what it’s doing, bringing awareness to the game.”
Left guard Clint Boling, who is in his first year playing fantasy football: “I took Jeremy Hill in the first round. I feel like my job directly correlates to how he will do in fantasy football, so I took a flyer on him. I also took Marvin (Jones) late. He was sitting around in I don’t know what round, so I took him. I think he’ll have a good year for me, too.”
For the record, some fantasy leagues do include a head coach position, and the Bengals’ Marvin Lewis (though the rankings only list that pick as “Bengals coach”) ranked 29th of 32 teams in that category. Dalton ranks as the 24th-highest quarterback selected. And in leagues that allow for individual defensive players to be picked, Dunlap is on average the 137th defensive end selected.