BREAKOUT - Reggie McNeal - WR
This was a very tough one to figure out. The Bengals have an extremely consistent core of players that perform at a high level, and don't really have room for a breakout player. They do, however, need to find a replacement for the talented but suspended Wide Receiver Chris Henry.
Last year, Henry caught 36 passes for over 600 yards and scored 9 TDs while only playing 13 games (4 starts). With Henry being suspended for the first 8 games of the 07 season, it leaves a big hole in the otherwise high-powered Bengals offense. This is a team that likes to use three wide receiver sets, and they need to find someone who will take Henry's places as WR number 3.
The Bengals knew in advance that Chris Henry would be missing the first half of the season - yet didn't draft a receiver in the 2006 draft. That tells me that they must feel pretty good about Reggie McNeal. While McNeal doesn't have Henry's experience, he does have great athleticism and similar size (6'2 200) and might actually be faster with his 4.35 speed.
With Pro Bowler Carson Palmer at quarterback, he'll make the players around him better and McNeal has the potential to be a superior player than Chris Henry was. I think he could put up Henry-like numbers for the first 9-10 games of the season with something like 450 yards and 5 TDs. While Reggie McNeal should not be drafted as a WR1 or WR2, he could be a nice pickup off of the waiver wire for the first half of the season. Also keep an eye out on the progress of Tab Perry and Antonio Chatman during the preseason. Both players would love an opportunity to showcase their skills and contribute on offense.
BUST - Rudi Johnson- RB
Its hard to foresee anyone on the Bengals being a fantasy bust. Their offense consists of a back-to-back 3800+ yard 28+ TD Quarterback in Carson Palmer, a running back who has averaged 1403 rushing yards the past 3 years while scoring 12TD in each season in Rudi Johnson, and two 1300 yard wide receivers in Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmandzadeh... not to mention one of the most consistent kickers in the NFL.
However, the team did spend a second round pick on a running back from Auburn in Kenny Irons. While Irons isn't the same caliber of player that fellow Auburn alums Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams, and teammate Rudi Johnson is, Irons will look to come in and contribute. Irons brings big-play ability, and that is something the Bengals hope to add in their running game. Rudi Johnson isn't a home-run hitter; his longest play being only 22 yards. Irons will be a change of pace back and will get some opportunities. So look for Rudi Johnson's numbers to take a slight hit as the Bengals look to have a one-two punch similar to what the Jacksonville Jaguars enjoy.
MR DEPENDABLE - Chad Johnson - WR
Like I stated in the section above, The Bengals offense has been one of the most consistent offenses in the entire league and has been for a couple years now, and the leader of that offense is Ocho Cinco himself. Over the past 4 years, Johnson has averaged 92 catches, 1357 yards, and almost 9 touchdowns a year, and with Chris Henry leaving a big hole at the 3rd spot, it wouldn't surprise me if 85 topped those numbers, what more could you ask for from a WR1? Personally, he is my #1 rated Wide Receiver and has been for the past couple of years
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