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How the Bengals Line Up From a Fantasy Perspective


Positional battles

Assuming receiver Chad Johnson (ankle) is a Week 1 starter for the Bengals, receivers Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell, Mario Urrutia and Antonio Chatman should all be fighting for the third receiver spot following the release of wideout Chris Henry.

Injury-prone tailback Chris Perry should challenge running back Kenny Watson for the backup job if he can remain healthy.

Offensive linemen Stacy Andrews and Willie Anderson will likely compete for the starting right tackle job.

Linebackers Keith Rivers and Dhani Jones are all but guaranteed starting spots, but the strong side is wide open. Look for linebackers Rashad Jeanty, Ahmad Brooks and Darryl Blackstock to be in the mix for the job.

Fading fast

Defensive tackle John Thornton has seen his numbers drop over the past few seasons. Thornton’s 32 tackles were his lowest since 2002, and his one sack was the lowest total he has had since 2001. He is 31 years old and could see his playing time cut back some.

Coming on strong

Cornerback Jonathan Joseph started 14 of his 15 games in 2007; he accumulated a mere 62 tackles and four picks in that time. He finished strong, though, with 36 stops and three interceptions in his last six games. The 2006 first-rounder, along with fellow up-and-comer Leon Hall (first round, 2007), appears poised to help the Bengals defense turn things around.

On the rebound

Running back Rudi Johnson suffered through hamstring injuries last season and it showed in his stats. He only ran for 497 yards and three touchdowns in 2007. Prior to the disappointing 2007 season, he rushed for at least 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns in each of the previous three years. He worked hard this offseason, bulking up to 225 pounds.

Injury prone

Running back Chris Perry was taken in the first round in 2004 but has only played in more than 10 games once in his career. The list of injuries he has suffered includes hamstring, hernia and an ankle injury that caused him to miss the 2007 season.

Offensive/defensive scheme changes

New defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is set to continue using the 4-3 defense as their main defense. He wants to implement elements of the 3-4 alignment to use during the season, though, as Zimmer attempts to improve a defense that allowed 24.1 points per game in 2007.

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