Fantasy Football Impact of Jermaine Gresham Breaking out for Cincinnati Bengals

Michael DulkaContributor ISeptember 13, 2011

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 11:  Tight end Jermaine Gresham #84 of the Cincinnati Bengals dives for extra yardage over defensive back Usama Young #28 of the Cleveland Browns during the season opener at Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham led the Bengals in their surprising 27-17 victory against the Cleveland Browns with six receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown. During the first half, Gresham got five balls from rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, but only caught one with Brad Gradkowski playing the entire second half.

Before leaving the game with a wrist injury, Dalton completed 10 of his 15 passes for 81 yards and 1 TD. Of his 10 completions, five were thrown to Gresham for 36 yards and the score. Greshman was also targeted on a couple of incompletions.

Up 3-0 late in the first quarter, the Bengals got great field position and moved the ball down the field steadily with a heavy dose of Cedric Benson. A long 22-yard Dalton-to-Gresham completion placed the Bengals inside the 10-yard line. After another Benson run, Dalton was able to find Gresham in the back of the end zone for Dalton's first career touchdown pass.

One of the incompletions was a third-down drop by Gresham that would have gained six or seven yards. The Bengals were still able to convert a 47-yard field goal to give them a 13-0 nothing lead early in the second quarter. 

Dalton targeted Gresham for more than half of his attempts in the half that they played together with some quality success. When Gradkowski came into the game, Gresham only added one reception over the final two quarters.

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 11:  Anthony Collins #73 celebrates with Jermaine Gresham #84 of the Cincinnati Bengals after Gresham scored a touchdown during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns Cleveland Browns Stadium season opener on September 11
Jason Miller/Getty Images

When Dalton returns back from his injury, Gresham will continue to be a favorite target because of his size and reliability playing tight end. Many young quarterbacks rely on their tight ends as they attempt to make the adjustment to the NFL.

Greshman should definitely benefit from this and the fact that the Bengals have a young, inexperienced group of wide receivers. Gresham will take pressure off Dalton while A.J. Green has a chance to build on his potential and become a starting wideout. 

If Gresham is able to string together some more quality performances, he can become a viable option as a fantasy tight end. With Dalton healthy, Gresham should see plenty of targets over the next couple weeks.

Next week, the Bengals go on the road for the second straight week to take on the Denver Broncos before returning home for three of the next four games. 

Against the Raiders in Week 1, the Broncos struggled against the run, giving up an astounding 190 yards. Even with the success on the ground, the Raiders were unable to move the ball consistently through the air and were unable to incorporate their tight ends.

Cedric Benson must be licking his chops breaking down the film of the Broncos rush defense. With success running the ball, Dalton should be able to use play action to find Gresham early and often. Gresham's value may decrease with Gradkowski in the game, so keep an eye on the health of Dalton as the week progresses. 

Gresham's strong performance and multiple targets from Andy Dalton should be signs of good things to come for the pair as the season progresses.