So Cedric Benson finally ended his holdout and signed a five-year deal with the Bears. How does that affect your draft rankings and upcoming fantasy football season?
Well, for starters, Chicago RB Thomas Jones, last year’s starter and the biggest benefactor from Benson’s holdout, should be sliding down your lists. Jones will still start the first few games of the season, at least, but Benson’s the future and the Bears will hand him the job at some point this year. Jones should be the team’s third-down back because he’s a much better receiver than Benson, but most of Jones’ fantasy value goes out the window with Benson signing.
As for Benson, he should be drafted or claimed in every league since rookie runners have a much higher success rate than rookies at other positions. He’s so far behind at this point that you can’t expect a 1,000 yard season for Benson, but also keep in mind that Willis McGahee sat behind Travis Henry for the first four games in Buffalo last year and still totaled 1,128 yards and 13 touchdowns, while rookie Julius Jones finished with 819 rushing yards and seven touchdowns despite playing in only eight games last season. Don’t draft Benson in the third or fourth round expecting that kind of production but, with his upside, Benson certainly deserves consideration once the first 20-25 backs are off the board, maybe even earlier in keeper leagues. After all, there’s a reason the Bears chose Benson with the fourth-overall choice in last April’s draft.
As rookie runners go, I prefer Carnell Williams, J.J. Arrington and maybe even Ronnie Brown (depending on what the Dolphins do with Ricky Williams) to Benson this year but, going forward, Benson has just as much potential as any of his fellow first-year backs and he’s a great fit in the Bears’ offense. Just don’t expect to see big numbers right away.
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