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For those of you in points-per-reception leagues, take note—Andrew Hawkins just became a very intriguing option for your fantasy team.
A.J. Green is still the guy for Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals, but Hawkins showed he would be a very big part of this Bengals' offense on Monday night. Against the Baltimore Ravens, he caught eight passes for 86 yards on nine targets. Only Green was targeted more (11 times).
Hawkins has a specific role he can play for the Bengals, which always helps a fringe player's fantasy stock. While Green is obviously the deep threat and tight end Jermaine Gresham is the best possession receiver available, Hawkins looks like a dangerous option on underneath crossing routes, wide receiver screens and quick outs.
He showed really good quickness and burst against the Ravens, and I wouldn't be surprised if he turns a short catch into a long touchdown early in this season.
Now, don't get me wrong—I'm not calling him Wes Welker just yet. One game does not a fantasy stud make. Hawkins remains a speculative add or a player whose expectations should be settling into your flex role once the byes hit in PPR leagues.
If the Bengals don't work him into the quick passing game or find unique ways to get him the ball, his value as a wide receiver will drop dramatically for fantasy owners. At 5'7", I don't think he's going to hurt many defenses going over the middle or in the red zone.
Still, he looked like a player the Bengals clearly wanted to involve in the offense, and I think he could become a very nice safety blanket for Dalton, especially against teams that ratchet up the blitz. I expect him to remain a feature of the Bengals game plan.
For those of you in non-PPR leagues, I would probably hold off on adding Hawkins for now, or only add him if I could stash him and see how he plays out. For those of you in PPR leagues, however, I think he could be a sneaky and solid addition to your squad.
Whatever the case may be, keep a close eye on him this season. The Bengals have been waiting for a third weapon to emerge in the passing game, and I think he just has.