Cincinnati Bengals 2021 Fantasy Football Rookie Roundup

bengals

The 2019 Cincinnati Bengals were so bad that they earned the #1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Cincinnati Bengals took Joe Burrow, who they failed to protect, causing him to tear his ACL and to see them pick only five places better in the 2021 NFL Draft. They did the prudent thing and added OT Penei Sewell to defend their top-pick quarterba—what’s that? Another wide receiver? But they have Boyd and Hig—okay. Well, I guess the Cincinnati Rams didn’t do the prudent thing in the draft.

All told, the Bengals drafted two fantasy football-eligible players in the 2021 NFL Draft. What can we expect from Ja’Marr Chase and Chris Evans in their rookie campaigns?

FULL CINCINNATI BENGALS DRAFT RESULTS
Rd Pick Player Pos. College
1 5 Ja’Marr Chase  WR LSU
2 46 Jackson Carman OT Clemson
3 69 Joseph Ossai DE Texas
4 111 Cameron Sample DE Tulane
4 122 Tyler Shelvin DT LSU
4 139 D’Ante Smith OT East Carolina
5 149 Evan McPherson K Florida
6 190 Trey Hill C Georgia
6 202 Chris Evans  RB Michigan
7 235 Wyatt Hubert DE Kansas State
Round 1, Pick 5: Ja’Marr Chase, Wide Receiver, LSU (6’1” 208 pounds)
Depth Chart:
WR1:     Tee Higgins
WR2:     Ja’Marr Chase
WR3:     Tyler Boyd
WR4:     Auden Tate
WR5:     Morgan Stanley
TALENT

Chase is the type of wide receiver that I told myself I wouldn’t talk myself into, but here I am. I think Chase is great. He has incredible downfield speed and moves, and always has inside leverage on the opposing defensive back; it’s rare that the opposing DB is between Chase and the ball, unless Chase is leaving them in the dust. 50/50 balls are that in name only, and he has incredible hands, ball tracking, and body positioning to make them his. If I had to think of trouble for Chase, it would be press coverage giving him some trouble, as well as his route running relying on him being big and strong instead of a technician. Overall, I like Chase a lot.

His only real question mark is getting back into the swing of things with a year off. I’d say going right back to his college quarterback probably bodes well for Chase getting going immediately in his rookie year.

2021 OPPORTUNITY

There’s a lot of slap fighting going on right now in the fantasy football community about how Cincinnati’s target volume shapes up for Chase and the two existing running backs in Cincinnati. I don’t think it’s particularly difficult to square away: Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins are both head-and-shoulders better than Tyler Boyd. Boyd will get short-area stuff and the underneath targets, but the downfield and money throws will go to Higgins and Chase. This is sort of how the Bengals already used Boyd, as he has had an average depth of target of between 8.0 and 8.5 in each of the last two seasons.

Personally, I think this sets Tee Higgins up as the deep threat and Ja’Marr Chase as the #1 target (as soon as he gets his feet under him). This sets him up for an immediate impact as a rookie who gets 100 targets.

2021 FANTASY FOOTBALL OUTLOOK

Let’s start with that 100 targets figure. Since 2000, 26 first-round rookie wide receivers had at least 100 targets. Of those 26, 20 scored at least 180 PPR fantasy points in their rookie campaign. Last year’s WR36, Jarvis Landry, finished with 180 PPR fantasy points. That puts Chase in the middle of a simple equation that ends up with him as a weekly starter in your fantasy football leagues. Chase is a top-30 wide receiver off the board for me, and should go somewhere around CeeDee Lamb’s 2020 ADP (about the seventh round). He has a chance to look good right out of the gate, and return major profits on his pick somewhere around week four. I’m excited to get Chase, and I think you should be, too. He’s a priority pick for me.

TALENT
2021 OPPORTUNITY
2021 FANTASY FOOTBALL OUTLOOK
Round 6, Pick 202: Chris Evans, Running Back, Michigan (5’11” 216 pounds)
Depth Chart:
RB1:       Joe Mixon
RB2:       Samaje Perine
RB3:       Trayveon Williams
RB4:       Chris Evans
TALENT

I’m not particularly excited about Chris Evans as a player. Evans mostly runs in a straight line until someone stops him. And it’s extremely easy to stop him. He could get a bunch of touchdowns in an Antone Smith role but I have zero interest in him as a fantasy football option. I would rather have the actor, if I am being quite honest. If you want something good about him: he does well in the open field. But, he averaged 4.2 touches per game in 2020 after missing 2019 with various academic issues. I doubt that takes a massive step forward in the NFL.

2021 OPPORTUNITY

I am going to keep this brief: I don’t think he could beat out Samaje Perine and Traveon Williams in the case of a Joe Mixon injury. He’s best suited as a 4-5 touch per game back when you need to try to hit a home run on the play. That alone tells me that he won’t get the opportunity to produce as we would need him to produce to call what he gets “opportunity” for fantasy football purposes.

2021 FANTASY FOOTBALL OUTLOOK

I doubt he finds any sort of consistent fantasy football relevance his rookie year. If When Joe Mixon gets hurt, that still leaves at least two guys ahead of him on the depth chart. Make like the Bengals likely do if given the choice between running the ball with Evans or throwing it… and pass.

TALENT
2021 OPPORTUNITY
2021 FANTASY FOOTBALL OUTLOOK
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About Jeff Krisko

You can follow me on twitter, @jeffkrisko for the same lukewarm takes you read here.

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