Fantasy Football 2013: Don't Sleep on Cincinnati Bengals' Andy Dalton in League Drafts

By Jim Heath
Andy Dalton Cincinnati Bengals
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton seems to be flying under most Fantasy Football GM’s draft radar this season. His obscurity has to be attributed in part to his performances in his final five games of 2012 in which he fell into complete fantasy irrelevance.

After showing fans and fantasy owners glimpses of his potential including five games of three touchdowns or more, Dalton tripped down the stretch. He took the fantasy world by storm in the first half of 2012, but Dalton and the Bengals offense struggled when it mattered most in an NFL season — November and December.

Dalton finished the season with five consecutive games in which he threw for a single touchdown or less and racked up dismal passing yards to the tune of 211, 206, 127, 278 and 78–most efforts versus less than spectacular defenses.

Despite the disappointing stretch, the former TCU Horned Frog finished the season with 27 touchdowns good enough for seventh in the league, with a respectable 3,700 yards passing. Dalton certainly showed glimpses, he just lacked consistency.

Then came the 2013 NFL Draft in which the Bengals — a team known more for defense — selected a loaded offensive draft class. Dalton had to be salivating with each new weapon taken off the board by his Bengals.

Let’s be honest, Dalton can certainly use the toys. Although he has an all-pro to go to in play maker A.J. Green, he has lacked that true check down safety valve. During his first two years in the NFL, Dalton has had tight end Jermaine Grisham, but Grisham has a tendency to disappear in some games and has a serious case of the drops in others.

Therefore the Bengals — mimicking the successful two tight end set of the New England Patriots — used their first round pick on Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert. Eifert will fill that safety valve void for Dalton. He is a big, mobile target whom posses outstanding hands and has drawn glowing reviews from onlookers in Bengal’s camp. The top rookie tight end prospect appears to be the real deal.

In the second round, the Bengals grabbed North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard. Bernard is an upgrade to a Bengals ground game that has lacked explosion during Dalton’s previous two seasons in Cincinnati. Giovani also has a plethora of tools that will help in the passing game. He is shifty, quick and has exceptional hands out of the backfield. He is very good in pass protection with an ability to pick up the blitz.

The Bengals also added depth on the offensive line in the later rounds of the draft.

One season ago Dalton and the Bengals’ pass game showed obvious glimpses of greatness. In fact, it would seem fair to say they stood on the threshold. One could additionally argue that the offseason acquisitions could push the offense over the said threshold.

If you are entering your league drafts with the mentality of waiting to draft a quarterback and instead looking to get your running back and even wide receiver positions in place, Dalton could be your guy. His ADP is currently 17, yet he easily has the talent and now the tools for top 10 contention by season’s end. You could easily argue the upgrades at tight end and running back in the offseason will prevent a five game slump in November and December this season.

Certainly makes sense to me. In fact, if that is the case and you add a single touchdown to Dalton’s stats during his bleak final five game stretch, he finishes 2012 as a top 10 quarterback. Yet, he continues to lie low as most Fantasy Football league drafts kick in to full swing. He is the poster child for the proverbial redheaded stepchild — no respect.

Do yourself a favor and remember the name. He has top 10 quarterback potential that can be drafted in the later rounds of your league drafts.

He’s primed for a breakout season — take advantage of it.

Jim Heath is a Fantasy Football writer for Follow him on Twitter @jim_heath, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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