NFL fantasy football: Cedric Benson the back to target?

Say cheese: The Green Bay Packers signed free agent running back Cedric Benson, adding much needed depth to the position. While the signing isn’t getting much fanfare, it certainly does affect how fantasy football owners should evaluate James Starks‘ value. Just a season ago with the Cincinnati Bengals, Benson rushed for 1,067 yards and six scores, compared to Starks’ 578 yards and one touchdown. The Buffalo product had high expectations of being the one to finally command the Packers’ backfield, but the signing of Benson speaks to their lack of trust in the young running back. Though the Green Bay offense will continue to carry a pass-first mentality, the combination of Starks and Ryan Grant did finish with 267 rushing attempts and 48 receptions for a total of 1,621 yards in 2011. During his sitdown with NFL Fantasy LIVE‘s Michael Fabiano, Greg Jennings stated the team would “run the ball a lot better this year.” Considering that in the last three seasons, Benson has totaled no less than 1,149 yards or six touchdowns, the potential for him to earn the starting job and play a big role in the offense makes him a borderline No. 3 or 4 back to target in fantasy drafts.

Will Cedric Benson be the back the Pack have been waiting for? (Don Wright/Associated Press)

Bad to worse: Coming off a disappointing 2011 campaign with the New England Patriots, wide receiver Chad Johnson was in perfect position to resurrect his career with the Miami Dolphins. He was atop the depth chart, and was expected to play a pivotal part in the offense. That is until the team released him following his arrest on Saturday. Though recent events might make it tough for Johnson to find another home, this is his first brush with the law, and he was having a strong offseason with the Dolphins. For now, Johnson should be taken off all fantasy football draft boards until owners find out where and if he lands with another team. Unless he finds a similar situation which puts him in a position to be a No. 1 wideout again, there won’t be any value to be had in drafts going forward.

Not Luck: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck performed up to expectations during his first live action Sunday, passing for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Though he is proving thus far to be as advertised, as NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi points out, it is still just the preseason and the rookie trio of Luck, Robert Griffin III and Brandon Weeden “have plenty of work to do before Week 1 of the regular season.” Fantasy football owners should still play it conservative when considering Luck in drafts and select him as a No. 2 quarterback with upside.

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