It is not an overstatement to say that the Cincinnati Bengals shocked the NFL last season. The Bengals emerged onto the scene with a top-10 ranked passing attack last season, which saw key contributions from the likes of wide receiver Tee Higgins. Higgins finished second in team receiving touchdowns and receiving yards as the Bengals won the AFC North with a 10-7 record. Led by the leap from Joe Burrow and the offensive rookie of the year Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati surpassed all expectations in the postseason.
The Bengals defeated the Las Vegas Raiders in the wild-card round and staved off the Tenessee Titans in their divisional matchup. They upset the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship to punch their ticket for a Super Bowl matchup with the Los Angeles Rams. After falling 23-20, the Bengals will look to run it back once again with the likes of Higgins expected to make an impact once more.
2021 season statistics & fantasy finish
Receiving: Higgins caught 74 passes for 1,091 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 77.9 yards per game and 14.7 yards per reception.
Fantasy: Higgins finished as a top-20 receiver in standard scoring with 145.1 fantasy points and 10.4 points per game. In points-per-reception leagues, he finished with 219.1 points with an average of 15.7 points per game.
Bengals offseason moves
After Burrow was sacked a record-seven times in the Super Bowl it was clear that the Bengals had to address the pass protection. Cincinnati went out and signed three new starting offensive linemen. La’el Collins, Alex Kappa, and Hayden Hurst are the marquee additions that will look to upgrade an offensive line that allowed 19 sacks throughout the postseason, also an NFL record.
2022 best-case scenario
Higgins could very well benefit from the added attention that Chase should presumably get in 2022. While Chase remains a deep threat Higgins could see added targets should defenses look to take away the deep shot. It’s too lofty a goal to hope for Higgins to lead the Bengals in receiving yards and maybe even touchdowns. But if Burrow hopes to get the ball out quicker then Higgins could possibly lead Cincinnati in receptions which is a plus for fantasy managers in PPR leagues.
2022 worst-case scenario
The Bengals will only go so far as Burrow goes and that means protecting their franchise quarterback. Injuries to Higgins himself are clearly a nightmare scenario but so is failed pass protection for Burrow. If Cincinnati’s offensive line additions from the offseason fail to pan out then Higgins could see his numbers drop, begging the question of keeping him on your bench each week.
I expect Higgins to match his fantasy production from a season ago while potentially increasing his total receptions in 2022. If Burrow is smart then expect him to look to get the ball out quicker in order to avoid taking any more unnecessary sacks. Defenses should also be keen on giving attention to Chase, which bodes well for Higgins. I think a top-15 to 20 fantasy finish is not out of the question this season.