Faceoff - RB Cedric Benson, Chicago Bears
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Upside - by Cecil Lammey
Cedric Benson is exactly the type of back that the Bears have been looking for since the departure of Walter Payton. New offensive coordinator Ron Turner believes that Benson can be the type of back that will pound the rock 25 times a game. Cedric will certainly be the focal point of the offense because the Bearís passing game is less than stellar. The Bears are looking to play ball control offense and Benson gives them a great presence in the backfield.
Cedric had an outstanding career at the University of Texas. He was a 1,000 yard rusher each of his 4 years in college and is one of the most prolific running backs in NCAA history. His senior year was his best and he seemed more focused and determined. Part of the reason was his decision to give up spring baseball and concentrate on football full time. He improved his inside running ability and gained more yards after contact. Part of Cedricís appeal is the fact that he is very good on short yardage and goal line situations as evidenced by his 64 career touchdowns.
While Cedric is not an enormous back, he does have ideal size and plays much bigger than his listed weight. He is a bit of a slasher and gets his shoulders square to get upfield in a hurry. He runs with great power and determination and thus runs through plenty of arm tackles. He also has soft hands and is a great receiver out of the backfield. His biggest assets as a running back are his vision and patience. Cedric is a great all around back that will be an every down feature back and a bona fide star in the NFL.
Downside - by Mike Brown
Of all the highly drafted rookie rushers entering the league in 2005 (Benson, Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, and J.J. Arrington), only Ronnie Brown has as viable a rusher backing him up (Ricky Williams) as Benson does (Thomas Jones).
Despite making Benson its first round selection, the Bears still retained Jones. While OC Ron Turner feels that Benson is a better option in his system, there is no denying how well Jones began last year with Rex Grossman at QB. Once Grossman went down, Jonesí stats headed south. But he proved he is a legitimate back, and an excellent receiver. At the very least, Jones will take several carries and numerous receptions from Benson.
Benson has an ADP of 5.01. In 12-team leagues, the #27 RB is a borderline RB2. That isnít something you want to do, because he is unlikely to be worthy of starting right away. For starters, the fact that heís coming from college to a different game in the pros doesnít help. But even without the typical rookie disadvantages, keep in mind heís also joining a team that was hardly an offensive force in 2004. The Bears were an atrocity, and one player (especially a rookie) isnít going to turn that completely around. The return of Grossman and the addition of Muhsin Muhammed will help, but the Bears offense isnít going to suddenly join the leagueís elite this year.
Finally, Benson isnít expected to report to camp on time for training camp. Every rep that Thomas Jones gets with the first-unit offense puts Benson that much further behind. While heíll likely gradually make a fantasy impact as the year goes on, one cannot reasonably draft him to be a starter from the outset and rely upon him, unless you are completely stacked elsewhere.