Joe Burrow looked like the real deal before his season ended with a torn ACL, and the hope is he'll be himself by Week 1. If he is, there should be a lot of optimism about this young offense that has plenty of young talent in the skill positions. But you'd love to see Burrow in a preseason game or two before going all-in.
Record: 4 - 11 - 1 (28)
PPG: 19.4 (29)
YPG: 319.8 (29)
Pass YPG: 215.5 (27)
Rush YPG: 104.3 (24)
PAPG: 36.3 (14)
RAPG: 25.7 (17)
2020 Fantasy finishes
Number to know: 658
That's how many pass attempts Burrow was on pace for before his injury. That would've led the NFL, and that's without even accounting for the 32 times Burrow was sacked in his 10 games. This team played fast and passed a lot. I'm expecting the pass-run split to move a bit more toward the league average, but this should still be a very pass-heavy team -- they're built that way. And they'll need to be for Ja'Marr Chase, Boyd, and Higgins to all live up to expectations, not to mention Burrow himself. The Bengals invested in their offensive line with the goal of doing a better job protecting Burrow, but don't expect them to limit his exposure too much -- this is going to be a team that spreads the field and slings it around. That means this is a team with a ton of offensive upside.
1. (5) Ja'Marr Chase, WR
2. (46) Jackson Carman, OT
3. (69) Joseph Ossai, DE
4. (111) Cameron Sample, DE
4. (122) Tyler Shelvin, DT
4. (139) D'Ante Smith, OT
5. (149) Evan McPherson, K
6. (190) Trey Hill, C
6. (202) Chris Evans, RB
7. (235) Wyatt Hubert, DE
186 carries, 71 RB targets, 149 WR targets, 7 TE targets
Chris Towers' projections
|QB||Joe Burrow||PA: 616, YD: 4496, TD: 32, INT: 15; RUSH -- ATT: 57, YD: 229, TD: 2|
|RB||Joe Mixon||CAR: 277, YD: 1163, TD: 8; TAR: 80, REC: 64, YD: 519, TD: 3|
|RB||Chris Evans||CAR: 105, YD: 391, TD: 1; TAR: 24, REC: 18, YD: 144, TD: 1|
|WR||Tyler Boyd||TAR: 116, REC: 79, YD: 828, TD: 6|
|WR||Ja'Marr Chase||TAR: 122, REC: 73, YD: 1052, TD: 7|
|WR||Tee Higgins||TAR: 110, REC: 66, YD: 892, TD: 7|
|TE||C.J. Uzomah||TAR: 62, REC: 41, YD: 413, TD: 3|
Can Joe Mixon finally be a superstar?
It's not that Mixon has been a bad Fantasy player, because he hasn't been. He just hasn't lived up to some pretty lofty expectations, usually because he just hasn't had the role in the passing game other backs do, leaving him heavily reliant on touchdowns. With the release of Giovani Bernard, he might finally have the opportunity to fit into a role that can maximize his value. If the Bengals give him 70-plus targets, Mixon could be a top-five back.
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One sleeper, one breakout and one bust
There's so much hype around everyone on this offense that it's awfully hard to call anyone a sleeper. Among the names you're familiar with, Tyler Boyd may be the best candidate, because he's going in the seventh round on average in NFC drafts and might just lead the team in targets -- while Tee Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase compete for outside targets, Boyd's role as the slot guy seems all but assured. However, I'll go with Evans, the sixth-round pick out of Michigan. Evans played sporadically in college, earning a suspension in 2019 due to academic issues and barely played in 2020 after being reinstated, so the track record of production isn't particularly impressive. However, he has pretty good size and athletic traits and has some pass-catching skills, and could emerge as the primary backup to Mixon -- and someone worth starting if the opportunity arises in a good offense.
I've long been a Mixon skeptic, I'll admit. It's not really that I question his skills, as much as I don't think they matter as much as so many seem to. Yes, he's a good back, but he's never had the kind of role needed to be an elite Fantasy back. Until now. With Bernard gone, Mixon suddenly has the chance to be a legitimate every-down running back. We know he's a good runner, and he's been good enough as a pass-catcher to think he could handle a bigger role in that facet of the game. If he gets the chance, Mixon could finally join the ranks of the truly elite running backs in Fantasy. And I think he's going to get that chance. I'm willing to take him in the first round in any format.
I don't feel super strongly about this one, but Burrow carries more risk than his draft price is likely to indicate. Burrow has upside, for sure, but he's also coming back from a serious knee injury and wasn't a great Fantasy option as a rookie. He has decent athleticism, but that isn't going to be a significant part of his game, especially after the injury, so Burrow really has to be an elite passer to be a No. 1 QB for Fantasy. He was pretty good as a rookie, ranking 18th in Fantasy points per game, and the assumption is he'll be better in year two, especially with Ja'Marr Chase replacing A.J. Green. But there's no guarantee of that, and it could be especially rough early on as he gets his legs back under him. That risk will dissipate if he gets into some preseason games and looks good, and the early-season schedule looks pretty favorable -- Vikings, Bears, Steelers, and Jaguars -- so he may just hit the ground running. But given how high the bar is for Fantasy quarterbacks, I may not be willing to pay the premium for Burrow this season.
So which sleepers, breakouts and busts should you target and fade? And which QB shocks the NFL with a top-five performance? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy cheat sheets for every single position, all from the model that called Josh Allen's huge season, and find out.