Bengals could have new fantasy stars

Carson Palmer. Chad Ochocinco. Terrell Owens. When you mentioned the Cincinnati Bengals and fantasy football in the same sentence last season, those were the first names that came to mind. But with the turn of a new year comes the possibility (or maybe probability) that change is coming in the Queen City.

Palmer wants to be traded and has threatened to outright retire if the Bengals don’t comply with his request. Owens is a free agent, and chances are he won’t be back with the team. Ochocinco is still under contract, but his name has been floated around in trade talks, so he isn’t 100 percent guaranteed to be with the organization.

Coach Marvin Lewis was on the set of NFL Network at the Scouting Combine on Friday to discuss the future of his team, and it was pretty clear that he is planning on moving ahead without Palmer as his quarterback.

“I think that we just have to move forward,” Lewis said. “I know that my boss and owner (Mike Brown) is not going to trade him, so we have to move forward and go forward with what he said. And that puts some closure in my mind with things.”

Lewis went on to say that the team has to “get better at the quarterback spot.”

Of course, the Palmer situation could change at a moment’s notice with a long offseason ahead. But right now, the Bengals appear set to make a change at the position — either via free agency (once there’s a new CBA) or in April’s NFL Draft.

Assuming that T.O. is also out of the mix, fantasy owners should get to know two players in particular: Jerome Simpson and Jermaine Gresham. Simpson put up huge numbers in the final weeks of last season and will be a legitimate sleeper candidate. The same holds true of Gresham, who has all the tools to be a solid option.

In the event that Ochocinco is traded, Jordan Shipley would become a player to watch in training camp. I’d also expect a greater dependence on the run without Palmer and regardless of who’s featured in the pass attack, so Cedric Benson could be more of a workhorse, and Bernard Scott would project to see more work as well.

Stay tuned …

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