The Cincinnati Bengals have been in the news quite a bit this week after the addition of Terrell Owens. But a report that Cedric Benson will not be disciplined by the NFL for an off-field incident is equally as important from a fantasy perspective.
Benson developed into one of the league’s better running backs last season, finishing with career bests in rushing yards (1,251) and six touchdowns. What’s more impressive is that he put up those totals in just 13 games. His success on the field helped him become one of the best fantasy draft values in the league.
With the addition of Owens to a pass attack now loaded with weapons, there’s been some concern in the fantasy world that offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski will throw the ball more often and lean less on the run. Chances are, the pass attack will be a bit more prominent. But the Bengals had a successful season in 2009 while riding Benson and the ground attack, and I don’t think they’ll abandon that offensive philosophy altogether.
Also, remember that the team was able to find success both on the ground and through the air during the days of Rudi Johnson. For a three-season stretch (2004-06), he averaged 1,407 rushing yards and scored a combined 36 touchdowns. Johnson also saw 337 or more carries in each of those three seasons, which is quite a large workload in what was perceived as a pass-laden offense.
I still see Benson as a borderline No. 1 running back — remember, he’s also in a contract year — so he’ll come off the board in the second round in most fantasy formats.