Finding Cheap Targets on Bad Teams: Cincinnati Bengals
Bad NFL teams pass the ball, sometimes a lot.
Because, see, when a team is in the constant grip of negative game script, an offense doesn't have the luxury to do all the favorite coach stuff like establish the run and maintain a run-pass balance and run so that they can pass—all of it nonsense coachspeak that should be swept into the dustbin of pigskin history.
This isn't to say every terrible NFL team puts up a truckload of pass attempts. Some bottom-barrel squads, like John Fox's horrid 2017 Chicago Bears or Jeff Fisher's abysmal 2016 L.A. Rams, stay committed to the run despite the never-ending negative game script. You have to admire the utter determination to go down with one's preferred misguided offensive strategy.
There is value to be had among these teams that just might take to the air in the face of double-digit second-half deficits in 2019. Those pass attempts, however forced or inaccurate, have to go somewhere, presumably to pass catchers we can roster on the cheap in redraft fantasy leagues.
I crunched a bunch of numbers and found that truly bad NFL teams—squads that win five or fewer games—have averaged 550.7 pass attempts over the past three seasons, with 10 of those teams (47%) finishing among the top half of the league in pass attempts. For the sake of context, 550 pass attempts would have been the 16th most in 2018. Best-case scenarios in which awful teams took to the air at wild clips include the 2016 Jaguars, who threw the pigskin 626 times (fourth most), the 2017 Giants, with a league-leading 608 pass attempts, and the 2018 Bucs, who threw the ball 625 times (fourth most).
In this space over the next few weeks, we're going to examine cheap receiver targets on teams projected by Vegas to win fewer than six games in 2019. Of course, not all of these teams will rank among the most pass-heavy, but the average draft positions of most of these pass catchers aren't incorporated into their re-draft price points.
Here's a look at the Bengals.
Probably you have to decide if you believe the Bengals will be absolutely horrendous bottom dwellers in 2019 or something closer to a contender that pushes for a playoff spot. Because if you lean toward the former scenario, it'll be tough to convince yourself that Joe Mixon is the type of back who will enjoy a mega workload on a team that faces a good amount of neutral or positive game script. It would be slightly less difficult, however, to talk yourself into Cincinnati pass catchers benefiting from a glut of pass attempts in an offense constantly chasing points.
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