The Bengals might have finished last in their division in 2023, but a 9-8 record is hardly anything to be ashamed of. After all, last season the AFC North became the first division where every team finished with a winning record since 1935!

Of course, the primary thorn in the Bengals' side came from Joe Burrow struggling to play through a calf injury in September before tearing a ligament in his right wrist in Week 11.

Kudos to the squad for winning four of their final seven games even without the services of Joe Shiesty, but expectations have never been higher in Cincy following 2021 Super Bowl and 2022 AFC Championship defeats.

Let's take a quick look at all the Bengals' fantasy-relevant coaching staff and major offseason moves (QB/RB/WR/TE) to this point to get an idea of how the 2024 roster is looking:

The addition of massive Georgia OT Amarius Mims with the 18th overall pick is a much-needed boost to the offensive line's overall depth. After all, keeping No. 9 upright should always be priority No. 1 for Who Dey nation.

Cincinnati Bengals Fantasy Football Outlook: Position by Position


Burrow looked like a complete shell of himself during the first month of the season, rarely leaving the pocket or even taking a snap under center. The results were atrocious and largely nuked his numbers on the year.

Things started to really change after someone woke him up when September ended (see what I did there):

  • Week 5 at Cardinals: 317 pass yards-3 TD-1 INT, fantasy QB6
  • Week 6 vs. Seahawks: 185-2-1, QB14
  • Week 8 at 49ers: 283-3-0, QB5
  • Week 9 vs. Bills: 348-2-0, QB6
  • Week 10 vs. Texans: 347-2-2, QB8

Overall, Burrow posted top-seven marks in EPA per dropback (+.180, 7th), completion percentage over expected (+7.1%, 1st), PFF pass grade (83.3, 6th), and passer rating (107, 2nd) during this five-game stretch of good health. Even against some truly great defenses, he once again looked every bit like anyone's idea of an elite professional QB.

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Nov 16, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) looks to pass during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Reminder: Only Josh Allen (24.2), Jalen Hurts (23), and Patrick Mahomes (22.9) averaged more fantasy points per game than Burrow (20.8) during the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Hell, the latter edition even featured him posting a fantasy-friendly 75-257-5 rushing line on the season. The 2020 NFL Draft's No. 1 overall pick is far from a statue in the pocket when functioning at 100%.

Here's to hoping Burrow is just that after a full offseason to get healthy. While many have been quick to psychoanalyze every possible clip from OTAs, learned doctors have noted the data strongly favors a return to a full range of motion and grip strength, and there aren't expected to be any long-term concerns.

Working under the assumption that Burrow should be back to his usual self by Week 1, it's hard not to be intrigued by the possibilities of this ever-loaded passing attack. After all, this group ranked fourth and second in yards (9,325) and TDs (71) through the air during the 2021 and 2022 seasons—and Fantasy Life projections accordingly have Burrow finishing inside the position's top six producers in both categories ahead of 2025.

Bottom line: It seems pretty ridiculous that C.J. Stroud (QB5, pick 56 ADP) is going nearly two full rounds ahead of Burrow (QB7, 78.8) at the moment. Shocking but true: Burrow only had *one* fewer top-eight fantasy finish than Stroud last season, and he tied guys like Patrick Mahomes and Tua Tagovailoa. The Bengals' franchise QB is a rock-solid mid-round option who doesn't deserve to be going literally twice as late in drafts as he was before last season.

Running Back

The new fit couldn't be better for Moss. He excelled in the Colts' 11-personnel, shotgun-heavy offense last season … and now finds himself in another offense that loves to attack its opponents on the ground from the same look. Per Fantasy Points' Scott Barrett:

  • The Colts (223, 58%) and Bengals (188, 59%) easily had the most carries from shotgun in 11 personnel last season.
  • Only Jonathan Taylor (5.24) averaged more yards per carry from shotgun in 11 personnel than Moss (5.2).

Santana and Sinorice's cousin (!) certainly proved capable of handling a featured role on the ground during the first part of the 2023 season with Taylor (back) sidelined:

  • Week 2: 18-88-1 rushing, 4-19-0 receiving, PPR RB10
  • Week 3: 30-122-0, 2-23-1, RB5
  • Week 4: 18-70-0, 0-0-0, RB34
  • Week 5: 23-165-2, 2-30-0, RB2

Moss played well enough to actively eat into JT’s workload upon return, ultimately finishing the year as one of the league’s top five most-efficient RBs in rushing yards over expected per carry (Next-Gen Stats):

It’s not a given that Moss immediately rises to the top of the Bengals’ depth chart and assumes the exact same workhorse role that Mixon has held over the years, but the team's decision to not use any of their 10 draft picks on the position sure makes it look that way.

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Dec. 10, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Chase Brown (30) carries the ball in the fourth quarter at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit - Kareem Elgazzar/USA TODAY Sports Network via The Cincinnati Enquirer

The question here is just how involved Chase Brown will be. The rookie had just five touches in six weeks before suffering a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined until late November. His usage increased down the stretch, but even then he never surpassed a 30% snap rate or 12 touches in a single game.

The bull case for Brown comes down to the reality that he can absolutely fly, and the 2023 fifth-round pick isn’t small enough (5'10”, 209 pounds) to necessarily be pigeon-holed for just pass-down work. Kudos to Brown for making the absolute most out of his opportunities through the air as a rookie:

Brown among 67 RBs with 15-plus targets:

  • PFF receiving grade: 81.1 (No. 4)
  • Yards per route run: 4.46 (No. 1)
  • Targets per route run: 42.9% (No. 1)
  • Passer rating when targeted: 132.2 (No. 2)
  • Yards per reception: 11.1 (No. 1)

Of course, a LOT of that production is skewed by a pretty wide-open 54-yard screen that he took to the house against the Colts. His pass-game usage did seem to almost fully be of the designed variety, which is perhaps an indictment of the pass-blocking ability on hand. Overall, Brown was only asked to pass block on eight total snaps last season—this is an area in which Moss could potentially surprise.

Ultimately, this is an offense that ranked seventh in scoring in both 2021 and 2022 with a fully healthy version of Burrow under center. Moss has double-digit TD upside as the lead rusher and primary goal-line option should he see anything close to Mixon's 257 rush attempts from a season ago, while Brown also has the potential to make a lot happen with upwards of 50-plus targets should he lock down the lead pass-down role.

Bottom line: Neither Moss (RB26, pick 92.2 ADP) nor Brown (RB37, pick 121.3) are at all pricey in drafts at the moment, making both more than reasonable zero/hero-RB targets in the later middle rounds. The potential for the split to veer closer to 50/50 could wind up limiting the ceiling of both, but then again there's some solid theoretical three-down handcuff ability on the table here. Think of this backfield like a poor man's version of the Lions. I've been more willing to pull the trigger on Moss in early best ball drafts; that said, Brown isn't someone I'm afraid to click either.

Wide Receiver

Chase, in case you forgot, is an absolute baller. While his LSU teammate Justin Jefferson recently reset the WR market, the Bengals' No. 1 wide-out will assuredly be a VERY rich man himself soon enough based on what he's accomplished since being selected with the fifth overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Chase among 107 WRs with 100-plus targets 2021-2023:

  • PFF receiving grade: 90.6 (No. 11)
  • Yards per route run: 2.19 (No. 13)
  • Targets per route run: 23% (No. 23)
  • Passer rating when targeted: 110.7 (No. 14)
  • Receptions: 268 (No. 11)
  • Receiving yards: 3,717 (No. 7)
  • Receiving TDs: 29 (tied for No. 3)

One of only nine receivers with more than 15 games with 20-plus PPR points since 2021, Chases possesses weekly blowup upside. Only Randy Moss (43), Rob Gronkowski (38), and Odell Beckham Jr. (35) have caught more TDs during the first three seasons of their career in the Moss era. There's a reason why Chase is currently the WR4 in career PPR points per game (18) … ever.

Of course, Chase's real ceiling will always be at least a little bit capped as long as he continues to share the field with someone as good as Tee Higgins. The Bengals' overqualified No. 2 WR doesn't seem overly happy with his franchise tag—he did request a trade earlier this offseason after all—but Higgins himself has already admitted that he expects to play in Cincinnati this season.

Higgins didn't live up to his usual lofty standards in 2023 on his way to setting career-low marks in receptions (42), yards (656), and TDs (5), but rib and hamstring injuries caused him to miss five games while exiting two additional contests early. Burrow's own injuries didn't help matters, either.

There were still plenty of examples that the 25-year-old talent is a force to be reckoned with on the gridiron. Boom performances against the Ravens (8-89-2, Bills (8-110-0), Vikings (4-61-2), and Steelers (5-140-1) demonstrated the reality that Higgins remains fully capable of single-handedly winning fantasy matchups.

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Dec 31, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) catches a pass in the fourth quarter during a Week 17 NFL football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports

Cris Collinsworth voice: We got a guy here who has put up HUGE fantasy numbers during his short career since joining forces with Burrow despite having to also share the field with Chase:

  • 2020: 12.2 PPR points per game (WR38)
  • 2021: 15.7 (WR12)
  • 2022: 13.8 (WR19)
  • 2023: 11.5 (WR41)

The major change in Cincy comes down to the No. 3 WR role. Longtime slot maven Tyler Boyd took his talents to Nashville in free agency, leaving the Bengals with three potential candidates to assume the newfound starting role:

  • Jermaine Burton: The favorite for starting duties after being selected with the 2024 NFL Draft's 80th overall pick. Of course, Burton was largely only available that late due to off-the-field concerns. The Georgia/Alabama product posted an elite career-targeted passer rating (115.8) and is the sort of non-first/second-round rookie profile worth betting on.
  • Trenton Irwin: Served as the offense's next-man-up when Higgins missed time last season, although it was Iosivas who got the full-time nod in Week 16 when Chase was out. The Bengals thought enough of Irwin to re-sign him this offseason, but the one-year, $1.48 million deal includes just $250,000 guaranteed—that's not exactly starter money.
  • Andrei Iosivas: The former Princeton track star possesses an intriguing athletic profile. Still, he was a sixth-round pick back in 2023 for a reason, and his season-long 15-116-4 receiving line as a rookie doesn't inspire a ton of confidence in his ability to handle a full-time role in 2024.

Note that it'd make a lot of sense if Chase spends a lot more time in the slot this season without Boyd around—something that could only mean good things for his fantasy upside (particularly in full-PPR formats).

Bottom line: Chase's elite combination of talent, volume, and QB play locks him in as a top-four overall pick in fantasy football. That doesn't mean Higgins can't also ball out—the duo both posted top-12 numbers in 2021 after all—and accordingly, I've been a BIG fan of acquiring the 25-year-old veteran at his relatively reduced WR27, pick 42.9 ADP. There probably won't be enough leftover target share for Burton to boom in a big way, but then again his cheap WR70, pick 150 ADP is more than fine for a player who would be on the cover of every waiver wire article should something happen to either of the Bengals' big-two options at the position. For this reason, the rookie has been one of my most-drafted WRs during offseason best ball drafts thus far.

Tight End

The league's best griddy-er tentatively expects to be the primary receiving option of the group, although this offense has spent the better part of recent years ignoring the position since drafting Chase. In terms of expected PPR points per game from Bengals TEs:

  • 2021: 7.6 (No. 31)
  • 2022: 9 (No. 27)
  • 2023: 10.8 (No. 20)

Of course, Gesicki is technically listed as a TE, but the man doesn’t even celebrate National TE Day for crying out loud. The size (6'6", 247 pounds) and speed (4.54-second 40-yard dash) freak is a receiving weapon first and foremost; Gesicki could be part of the plan to replace Boyd from the slot more than anything.

I've been a fan of Gesicki's game for a long time, but at the end of the day: The former 42nd overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft hasn’t managed to clear even 400 receiving yards over the past two seasons after posting more than respectable 53-703-6 and 73-780-2 receiving lines in 2020 and 2021.

Truthers can always hope for a late-career turnaround, but Gesicki failed to lock down significant roles in offenses led by:

  1. Mike McDaniel, who had nobody of note to feature behind Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
  2. Former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien, who REALLY had nobody to worry about overly prioritizing in that New England passing “attack.”

Bottom line: Gesicki profiles as the group's lead target earner; the problem is that role has produced just 63, 68, and most recently 50 targets inside of this WR-centered passing game. Fantasy Life projections accordingly project Gesicki for exactly 50 targets—for now, he's nothing more than a late-round stacking partner with Burrow in best ball land until we see evidence of something close to a legit full-time role (unlikely).

Bengals 2024 Season Prediction

The Bengals allowed a league-high six yards per play last season while attempting to retool their secondary. Bringing back S Vonn Bell in addition to poaching S Geno Stone from the Ravens should help matters there, while ex-Texans DL Sheldon Rankins, second-round Michigan DL Kris Jenkins, and third-round DL McKinnley Jackson add some much-needed beef in the middle. It'd make sense if well-respected defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo gets far more out of this group in 2024.

With the benefit of even a decent defense, it's hard to not believe in a healthier version of Burrow once again helping lead this group deep into the January playoff hunt.

I'm taking OVER 10.5 wins for a group that has proven capable of beating just about anyone in football over the past three years when things are clicking. I also like the Bengals' +165 odds to win the AFC North for the third time in the last four seasons.

More 2024 NFL Team Previews

Ian Hartitz
Ian Hartitz
Ian is a senior fantasy analyst at Fantasy Life and he truly believes every day is a great day to be great. He's spent time with Action Network, NBC Sports and Pro Football Focus over the years, writing and podcasting about all things fantasy football along the way. Ian's process relies on a mix of film analysis and data study; whatever is needed to get the job done (job done). There's no reason fun can't be had along the way — we do live on a rock floating around a ball of fire after all. Outside of football, Ian enjoys MMA, his dachshund Lilly and candles.