Fantasy Uncertainty: Bengals backfield

Adam Nardelli analyzes a jungle of a Cincinnati Bengals backfield and offers a recommendation on which players to target.

We’re now well into the summer months, which means football season is on the horizon!  Soon enough, we’ll all be in backyards putting stickers on a board with cheeseburgers in hand. Or maybe we’ll be just tapping names on our phones, but regardless, fantasy drafts aren’t far off.  To help you prepare, I’ve been digging into the murkiest backfields and receiving corps around the NFL in an effort to provide clarity. We’ll dive into question marks surrounding said position groups, examine the ADPs (average draft positions) of the most fantasy-relevant players, and determine how we should maneuver through these uncertainties in our drafts.

In each post, I’m breaking down key names to know in the backfield or receiving corps.  Some backfields and receiving groups may feature multiple players of interest, while others have only two main players vying for snaps and touches.  Since re-draft leagues haven’t started to heat up yet, all average draft positions (ADPs) are based on Underdog data, courtesy of

Similar to the Tennessee Titans’ running back situation, the Cincinnati Bengals have two main backs who can be drafted without significant investment. With so many drafters placing a premium on elite wide receivers, the ability to find cheaper running backs who may earn significant snap shares is extremely important in today’s fantasy landscape. Let’s dig into the important Names to Know here.


Zack Moss

Zack Moss filled in nicely for Jonathan Taylor last season and posted more than his share of productive weeks for fantasy managers. In seven starts in 2023, the former Indianapolis Colts running back averaged over 21 touches and almost 99 total yards per game, showing he can make something happen with a solid workload. However, he profiles as more of the early down back, as he ranked just 41st in yards per route run and 48th in target per route run, according to His limitations as a pass catcher reduce his upside, but at an 8th-round ADP, Moss offers a nice floor at a cheap price, especially for fantasy managers employing zero or anchor RB roster builds.


Chase Brown

His ceiling was limited in his rookie season while he backed up Joe Mixon, but now that only Moss stands in front of him, Chase Brown’s fantasy impact could be much more significant in his second year. In a small sample size, the Illinois product showed flashes of explosiveness and big-play ability, making the fantasy community salivate in anticipation of an increased workload.

According to, Brown ranked 12th in yards after contact per attempt, and 16th in missed tackles forced per attempt among 77 running backs with at least 40 carries.  His 54-yard-touchdown reception against the Colts (check it out below) late in the season was the clear highlight of his rookie year, exhibiting incredible burst and reaching a blistering top speed of 22 MPH.  His change of direction near the endzone also showed he has more in his toolbox than just straight-line speed.

It doesn’t take an astrophysicist to figure out that Brown should have the ball in his hands more often, so here’s to hoping that Coach Zac Taylor takes off the training wheels in 2024. An 11th-round ADP is a modest investment allowing drafters to take a swing on a guy who’s just one step away from being the RB1 in a potentially explosive Bengals offense led by Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins. Sure, Moss had a few good moments last year, but at that point of the draft, it’s a much more comfortable gamble to strike gold without using any major draft capital. The term “sleeper” may be overused, cliché, and trite in fantasy circles, but Brown personifies the term perfectly.


The Lean

Like the Titans situation, I tend to lean toward the younger, cheaper running back with more upside, which is Brown, in this case. However, Moss profiles as the better goal-line back, enhancing his luster in half-PPR or Standard leagues. In an offense that should encounter no shortage of trips to the red zone, his role is valuable in fantasy. Through it all, this backfield is somewhat of a pick-your-Starbucks-order: Zack Moss is your reliable, regular house blend while Chase Brown is the newest, most elaborate menu item. Neither is a poor choice, so the best middle-round fit for your fantasy team will be determined by individual roster construction up to that point and your comfort level in terms of risk tolerance.


Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire | Designed by Aaron Asbury (@aarongifs on Instagram)

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