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Fantasy football 2013 draft preview: Cincinnati Bengals team report

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A.J. Green had 97 catches for 1,350 yards in 2012, and should be among the top wide receivers drafted.

Fantasy football 2013 draft prep central: Rankings, position primers and much more

Fantasy football draft season is fast approaching. Prep to win your league with SI.com's ongoing preview, including team-by-team breakdowns that examine each club's key fantasy storyline and much more.

Key fantasy storyline

If it weren't for the dynamic exploits of A.J. Green, the Bengals would get lost in the shuffle of fantasy football. Props to head coach Marvin Lewis for lining them up for HBO's Hard Knocks; at least they'll get the national exposure.

Many of the Bengals' players will be under-the-radar fantasy picks to watch this August, including rookie TE Tyler Eifert (a first-round pick this April) and rookie RB Giovani Bernard (second-round pick). Both prospects will grow in the Jay Gruden-coordinated offense alongside QB Andy Dalton and Green, both starting their third NFL season. It should take time for both Eifert and Bernard to truly impact fantasy rosters, but only because veterans Jermaine Gresham and BenJarvus Green-Ellis will be ahead of them on the depth chart to open camp.

Lewis is a defensive-minded coach, and he built his team to play close, tough games against the bruising AFC North -- the Ravens and the Steelers are two of the most physical teams in the NFL. They'll be making a push for a third-consecutive playoff season for the first time in franchise history.

This shapes up to be the strongest and deepest team Lewis has coached in his solid, but not spectacular, 11 seasons in Cincinnati. If everything goes right, you just might find some sleepers here after Green goes off the board in Round 2.

Schedule analysis

Cincinnati Bengals' 2013 schedule
Including a look at how the Bengals' upcoming foes fared defensively in fantasy last season
WeekOpponentRank against QBAgainst RBAgainst WRAgainst TE
1@ Chicago451012
2vs. Pittsburgh1473
3vs. Green Bay1417177
4@ Cleveland2221284
5vs. New England3082528
6@ Buffalo24311415
7@ Detroit1772323
8vs. N.Y. Jets525121
9@ Miami15101317
10@ Baltimore618161
11vs. Cleveland2221284
12BYEN/AN/AN/AN/A
13@ San Diego2113208
14vs. Indianapolis1227269
15@ Pittsburgh1473
16vs. Minnesota2892420
17vs. Baltimore618161

Stats via FFToday.com

The Bengals have six games versus teams ranked top 10 against quarterbacks, and six versus the top 10 teams against running backs. That doesn't bode well for those hoping to draft Dalton or Green-Ellis. Tougher still are the nine top-10 opponents against tight ends that they'll face, making the two-headed monster of Gresham and rookie Eifert questionable fantasy picks before the late rounds. The good news lies in the matchups for receivers, which are a lot more favorable. Green can push Calvin Johnson for the elite, especially against this schedule. Then, you might consider Mohamed Sanu and Andrew Hawkins decent late-round fliers.

Depth chart

QB: Andy Dalton, Josh Johnson, John Skelton

RB: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Giovani Bernard, Bernard Scott, Cedric Peerman

WR: A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones, Andrew Hawkins, Brandon Tate

TE: Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert

K: Mike Nugent

Defensive analysis

Cincinnati Bengals 2012 defensive rankings
Ranking typeTotal DRushing DPassing DPoints allowed
NFL rank61278
Ranking typeAgainst QBAgainst RBAgainst WRAgainst TE
Fantasy rank814318

Stats via NFL.com and FFToday.com

This is arguably one of the most underrated defenses in football right now, particularly in the front of the 4-3. Geno Atkins is arguably the best defensive tackle in football, while Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson are productive bookends. The Bengals also added James Harrison from the Steelers, who will team with Rey Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict to make the linebacking corps almost as formidable. Dre Kirkpatrick and Leon Hall are underrated corners, while Pacman Jones and Terence Newman still have something left as a the backups. The Bengals just might lead your fantasy league in the amount of IDP picks, even if none of them are truly elite options at this positions. This is a very good defense that finished sixth in the NFL last year and stands to play even better this season.

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