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The Bengals were the laughing stock of the NFL before coach Marvin Lewis arrived. Now, well, they are perfectly average. During Lewis' five-year run, Cincinnati has finished 8-8 three times, and 7-9 once. Though the Bengals have never been able to sustain the success they had in 2005 by finishing 11-5, the talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball, has always been there.

And it still is. In fantasy football terms, few teams are as loaded as the Bengals. Their offense features three fantasy studs, and one fallen running back looking to redeem himself. When Carson Palmer and crew air it out, fantasy owners will reap the benefits.

It's not easy to replace a coaching legend, but Mike Tomlin handled it as well as anyone could have hoped last season. A 10-6 record and a playoff birth was enough to satisfy the Pittsburgh faithful in Year One, but that likely won't be good enough this season. The Steelers will start the season in everyone's top ten in power rankings, and probably in the top five in most.

Like any NFL behemoth, the Steelers are loaded with big time fantasy players on offense. Still, fantasy owners were likely upset to see Pittsburgh use its first round draft pick on running back Rashard Mendenhall, who may take away goal line touches from starter Willie Parker.

The Browns were the surprise of the NFL last year. Forever clumped with the Clippers, Royals, Pirates, and Arizona Cardinals as a perennial loser, all that changed when Derek Anderson led Cleveland to a 10-6 record. They did it with a blitzkrieg offense, which means they have a lot of desirable players for fantasy teams. Braylon Edwards will be the first Brown taken in fantasy leagues, but Anderson and tight end Kellen Winslow won't be far behind.

The Ravens have long been known for their tenacious defense, which means one thing: they don't have a lot of valuable fantasy players. Running back Willis McGahee, a second round pick in most leagues, is the Ravens' most desirable player, but the pickings are slim after that. The Baltimore team defense, however, will again be one of the first defensive crews selected.

The offense could take a jump in coming years now that John Harbaugh has replaced Brian Billick as head coach. Much will depend on the development of Joe Flacco, the rookie signal caller that could be thrown into the fire right away.

About the bloggers

Matt Wood is a web editor for suntimes.com and editor of CenterstageChicago.com. He is also a contributor for satirical sports publication The Heckler. Have a fantasy question? E-mail him.

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