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Don’t Get Too Excited About Cedric Benson

Cedric Benson
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Truth About Cedric BensonCedric Benson

When Cedric Benson signed with the Green Bay Packers in August, fantasy footballers took notice. Benson, who was coming off a 1000-yard, six touchdown season with the Cincinnati Bengals, was joining one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. Many wondered if Benson had anything left to make an impact. Benson quickly quieted those concerns and went shooting up draft boards after one preseason game.

Benson signed with the Packers on August 12 and 11 days later he was wearing the green and gold and running very well against his former team. Benson looked spry against the Bengals, rushing for 38 yards on six carries. Fantasy owners began to wonder, can Benson sustain that success and what kind of fantasy season can we expect from the 29-year-old running back?

No one will dispute that Benson is on the downswing of his career. He was used diligently in Cincinnati, especially the past three seasons in which he amassed 895 carries. In each of those seasons, Benson rushed for more than 1,000 yards and was a true featured back. However, during that span his season-high touchdown total was seven in 2010 (he had six TDs in 2009 and 2011). Benson has never been a touchdown maker and don’t expect him to turn into one in Green Bay.

While Benson is an upgrade at running back for the Packers, Green Bay doesn’t need him to score touchdowns. The Packers have won a Super Bowl and completed a 15-1 regular season without a true workhorse running back. When you have Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, you don’t need a running back – and the stats prove it.

Since Rodgers took over as the Packers quarterback in 2008, Green Bay’s tailbacks have been fantasy busts. Despite playing in one of the NFL’s premier offenses, only one tailback as scored more than four touchdowns in a season.

2011
Rodgers – 3 touchdowns
Kuhn – 4 touchdowns

2010
Rodgers – 4 touchdowns
Kuhn – 4 touchdowns

2009
Rodgers – 5 touchdowns
Kuhn – 1 touchdown

2008
Rodgers – 4 touchdowns
Kuhn – 1 touchdown

2011
Ryan Grant – 2 touchdowns
James Starks – 1 touchdown

2010
Brandon Jackson – 3 touchdowns

2009
Ryan Grant – 8 touchdowns
Brandon Jackson – 2 touchdowns
Ahman Green – 1 touchdown

2008
Grant – 4 touchdowns
Jackson – 1 touchdown
DeShawn Wynn – 1 touchdown

 

Again, Benson may be good for the Packers, but don’t get too excited about his fantasy prospects. A closer look at the Packers rushing touchdowns from the past four seasons reveal a trend that I don’t see changing any time soon.

Since the Rodgers’ era, the Packer with the most rushing touchdowns is Rodgers. He has 16 rushing touchdowns from 2008-2011. The second most rushing touchdowns (of anyone still on the roster) is fullback John Kuhn with ten.

It’s clear the Packers are comfortable with Kuhn as their short-yardage back, which is bad news for Benson. Also, the Packers love to take advantage of Rodgers’ athleticism by giving him the run-pass option inside the red zone.

 

That brings us back to Benson. History tells us that he’ll finish the season with 4-6 touchdowns. I caution fantasy owners who have Benson penciled in as their starting running back. I have Benson currently ranked as a RB3 in most standard leagues and a guy you should definitely sit in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers.

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Matt Lechner

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