Johnson... the hybrid DE... an experiment, or a legit threat?
You have to expect with the Cincy offense either scoring quick or going three-and-out (because we all know Benson will blow a tire this year after is 300 plus carries last season), the D will be on the field a LOT. I have looked at your overall ranks numerous times, but I'd be interested to hear/read your team-based breakdown of these guys.
Great question. The linebacker situation in Cincinnati is quite unsettled right now. Ultimately, I think we'll see Maualuga move to the middle and displace Dhani Jones. But for right now I think you will see him stay on the strong side, with Jones in the middle, and Rivers on the weak side.
If defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer had it his way he would likely already have Maualuga starting the middle since he fits in very well with the aggressive, down-hill scheme that Zimmer runs. However, I'm guessing Marvin Lewis prefers the veteran leadership of Dhani Jones in the middle especially with a young group of linebackers. Jones is the brain of the defense and is the glue that holds the Bengals defense together.
From what I saw during the HOF game, the Bengals are going to get Michael Johnson on the field for a good amount of snaps by shifting him between 4-3 defensive end and 3-4 outside linebacker (i.e. the Bengals plan on uses multiple fronts).
In dynasty leagues, Maualuga is the guy to own. Dhani Jones may end up having the most value this season of all the linebackers and Michael Johnson could be a sneaky play especially if he's classified as DE in your league (ala Trevor Scott circa 2009).
Rivers has the range, fluidity, explosiveness, size and power to be a very good WILL linebacker. However, as of right now he's only a two-down linebacker and he has failed to show he can produce at a level needed to make most fantasy rosters. Plus there's a lot of competition for tackles in Cincy.
Thanks man. I tend to agree. I really liked Rivers right out of college. Honestly, before Hines Ward lit him up, he seemed like he might be dominant... but... he just didn't have that pop last year. There are a lot of other guys that I think I will be able to get at around the price of these guys. For some reason Maualuga has the "name" and people seem (in my experience) to over draft him. I think he will be good, but not tier 1-2 like people tend to be drafting him.
Good work. I will come up with some other random questions for you in the next week or so.