I made a bet with one of my buddies at the beginning of the season that Andy Dalton will no longer be the starting quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals at the beginning of the 2014 season. After watching Dalton closely for 10 weeks, I’m pretty confident that if the Bengals are smart, then they’re at least discussing internally about how they can upgrade at the quarterback position for 2014.
I’ve watched a ton of Dalton film this year and he just flat out isn’t very good. No quarterback in the NFL is bailed out by their star receiver more than Dalton is by A.J. Green. Dalton consistently overthrows the ball on the outside, he comes up short on virtually every deep ball he throws, he throws balls behind receivers running across the middle and he looks like a deer in headlights every time he has to roll out of the pocket.
From a total fantasy points perspective, it would appear that Dalton is having a great year — he has the seventh-most fantasy points among quarterbacks going into Week 11, most of that, however, can be attributed to an incredible three-game stretch from Weeks 6 six through 8 where he scored 81 total fantasy points. He has scored 77 total fantasy points in his seven other games according to ESPN standard scoring.
Dalton is at his best when he’s throwing short to intermediate timing routes, which is why he has been effective in the red zone throughout his career. At times, he is capable of placing his teammates in areas where they have opportunities to make big plays in open space.
Dalton is never going to beat a defense or rack up fantasy points solely with his arm though. Quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are great because they make their offensive weapons better — just ask Greg Jennings how much easier it was to play with Rodgers now that he’s had to go through half a season with Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman.
Dalton is the opposite — his offensive weapons make him better. This week, Dalton has to face a Cleveland Browns defense that held him to just five fantasy points when they played earlier in the season, and I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect this game to go significantly better for him.
The Browns are sixth in the NFL in allowing just 98.2 rushing yards per game, so I expect Dalton to have plenty of opportunities to throw the ball (he had 42 pass attempts when these two teams met in September). But, I don’t envision them being successful passes.
Joe Haden is one of the best cover corners in the NFL, and I expect him to be on Green all game; and while A.J. has shown that he can make spectacular plays down field no matter how well he’s covered — or no matter how poorly the ball is thrown — the odds of that happening decrease significantly with Haden out there.
Dalton will likely be forced to spread the ball around to his other options, and those guys are nowhere near as capable of making their quarterback look good the way Green is. In most formats, there should be better options than Dalton hanging around in your free agent pool. Case Keenum, Mike Glennon and Josh McCown are all guys that I would prefer this week over Dalton, and all three of them are widely available, so make sure you explore your options before you lock the Bengals quarterback into your Week 11 lineup.