8. Bunger, Overall Grade: B
Projected Starters: B
QB: B [Kirk Cousins]
RBs: C [Joe Mixon, Terrance West]
WRs: B [Doug Baldwin, Brandin Cooks, Kenny Britt]
TE: A+ [Rob Gronkowski]
K: B+ [Adam Vinatieri]
DEF: C [Los Angeles Chargers]
QB: A [Ben Roethlisberger]
RB: B [Jonathan Stewart]
WRs: B- [Jordan Matthews, Markus Wheaton]
TE: C [Zach Miller]
Strengths: GRONK SMASH, Backup QB
Gronkowski headlines Bunger’s team, and the Patriots TE is in a massive tier above the likes of Kelce, Reed, or any other star fantasy TE. Since coming into the league in 2010, Gronk has caught 68 TDs, which is more than any other player during that span. That’s more than Dez, Jordy, Julio, and any other receiving TD machine you can think of.
Bunger also has one of the better QB duos in the league, and both are at the sweet spot where Bunger can play the match-up game without feeling like he’s invested too heavily in the position.
Weaknesses: RB, Backup WRs
Bunger has a lot of solid RBs but lacks any star options that would provide him any weekly advantage at the position. Mixon has the potential to be that star, but he’s had a poor preseason and the Bengals continue to roll out Jeremy Hill as the starter.
Jordan Matthews is actually a great depth piece at WR and could arguably be the “starter” over Kenny Britt for the Jabronis. Unfortunately there’s a giant cliff drop from Matthews to Wheaton, and Bunger will be in some trouble if anything happens to his first 4 receivers.
X-Factor: Joe Mixon
As mentioned, Joe Mixon has star potential written all over him and the sooner he reaches that status, the sooner Bunger can climb out of a crowded middle tier of the D|League. Luckily for Bunger, Jeremy Hill just injured his ankle, so that could be the opening that Mixon needs to run away with the starting gig.
Prediction: 8th, 6–7 record
Another 8 week losing streak (including consolation playoffs) and subsequent nose dive into the Bunghole is unlikely. Bunger’s team is better than that. However, it’s also tough to see a path into the top four or five. As such, Bunger will likely be battling for the 6th playoff spot, ultimately falling just short with a record of 6–7.