In 2017, for the second straight year, the Cincinnati Bengals finished below .500 and missed the playoffs by going 7-9. Despite the recent struggles, head coach Marvin Lewis received a two-year extension. Lewis has been at the helm for the Bengals the past 15 seasons and has gone 0-7 in playoff games during that span. Bill Lazor was also retained as the offensive coordinator after he took over in mid-September for Ken Zampese, who was fired.
The Bengals averaged just 18.1 points per game (26th in the league). They scored 14 or fewer points six times and only went over 24 points in four contests. They got some production out of rookie running back Joe Mixon, but first-round wide receiver John Ross was a non-factor during his first season.
Cincinnati has talent at the skill positions, but Andy Dalton’s play has been inconsistent. Much of the blame for the offensive struggles though could be pinned on the offensive line. The unit was one of the worst-graded lines by PFF throughout 2017.
Three additions we want to see for fantasy
Cameron Brate, TE: Brate is a restricted free agent, so it could be tough for him to move on from the Buccaneers, but Tampa Bay drafted O.J. Howard early in 2017 and may decide to go in a different direction. If Brate hits the open market, the Bengals would be a great fit as the team appears poised to move on from the oft-injured Tyler Eifert. Brate has only five drops on 134 catchable passes is his career and he’s scored 14 times over the past two seasons. If not, they can roll with Tyler Kroft and address the position in the draft.
Andrew Norwell, LG: Norwell, a Cincinnati native, has enjoyed a stellar career as he has ranked among the top-15 guards in every one of his four pro seasons. He only allowed 15 pressures on 651 pass-blocking snaps in 2017 and his 91.4 run-block success rate ranks No. 1. His arrival would be a huge asset to Mixon, who had the fourth-lowest yards after contract per attempt (2.34) of the 26 running backs with 175 or more carries in 2017. The addition of Norwell can help Mixon get yards before contact and produce a better net runner.
First- or second-round tackle: It’s not a great draft class at offensive tackle in terms of front-end talent, but if they go defense in Round 1 there could be the potential for the Bengals to find a starter at pick 2.14 if things break right . The team could also trade down and stockpile a couple early-round picks and double up on offensive line help. Giving Dalton more protection is a must. He didn’t fare well when under pressure (15th in adjusted completion percentage) this past season.