Gut Feelings are Being Formed


I got a lot of calls on Friday night on the Sirius Radio show about drafting near the end of the first round. I’ve stated many times how I think in that situation you need to look at two RBs, since I think there are 12-14 backs worthy of such a high picks. Callers wanted me and my co-host, Adam Caplan, to give examples of players who would likely be available around that time and who we would target. We threw out Travis Henry a lot (I have something on him below), but one player we kept going back to is Bear RB Cedric Benson.

Sometimes, in fantasy, it’s wise to play it safe, but other times you need to go for the gusto. Especially if you’re in a competitive league, you need to play to win, and Benson is definitely a play-to-win pick. He won’t likely go in the top-15, yet Cedric Benson, if healthy all year, will likely be a top-5 pick overall next year. If you’re looking for this year’s version of Frank Gore, or a poor man’s Larry Johnson, Benson is it.

I think the consensus in Chicago from those close to the team is that Benson’s going to be fine this year. There’s not exactly a feeling that he’s going to explode, but a feeling that he’s going to be “okay.” If he is “okay” that means he’ll play most of their games, if not all of them. If he does, there is no doubt in my mind that he will put up very good numbers. On the low end, he’s a 1300-yard, 10 TD guy if he plays 14-16 games. On the high end, and he’s capable of doing this, he’s 1500+ rushing yards and 14-15 TDs.

That potential makes him a terrific #2 pick and #2 RB. Maybe he’s not a pick for the conservative fantasy owner, but if you want to form a devastating fantasy team, Benson is a great choice.

I mentioned Henry above. Friday night we had Greg Cosell on the show. Greg is the Senior Producer of the State Farm (formerly Edge and formerly EA Sports) Matchup show on ESPN. Greg is an extremely sharp guy, and he’s gained a lot of his knowledge working side-by-side with Ron Jaworski breaking down coach’s tape. I asked Greg if I was guilty of creating too much hype on Travis Henry in Denver, and he said no way. Greg feels even better about Henry in Denver than I do, and he even said 1500+ yards rushing would not surprise him at all. I agree, of course.

I also asked Greg if I was crazy for really “feeling” Rex Grossman this year. Again, Greg, who specializes in QBs, said no way. Greg felt a lot of Grossman’s problems last year were mechanical and correctable, and he also brought up a great point about how he will benefit greatly from working in the shotgun this year, since a lot of his problems stem from when he faces a strong pass rush and because he’s not tall enough to always see over the line.

I’ve analyze the situation and the player enough. Grossman may stumble again, but I think the likelihood that he shocks with a big year is much greater. Based on the value and the potential, I am officially begging readers to use a late pick on Grossman. And now I’ll go as far to say the following: if you wind up holding off on your QB or missing out on one of the top guys, then Grossman is a great option because he could easily be a very good (if not great) starter for you. If you do that, for good measure, I would make sure I got another quality lower-end guy, such as Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers.

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10 Responses

  1. deputy says:

    I got to be honest, John: Last season your Gut Feelings (and mine of course) really helped me derive my draft plan.

    I’m totally feeling the vibe with Travis Henry (and Joseph Addai from your FG Mins earlier). Grossman? Probably a good back-up and definately someone you could dangle out there after he has a few good weeks as trade bait. I still wouldn’t trust him week-to-week, unless – of course – the rest of my team was stacked and he was a late round flier ($1 bid in my case).

  2. ditka85 says:

    Haha, I said last year Benson is “LJ lite” to my friends. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks so.

  3. gump7734@yahoo.com says:

    I don’t get it. Benson has never started for the Bears. He was a high pick, drafted to be their starter and he “fits the power running offense.” Yet he couldn’t beat out Thomas Jones. He’s always nicked up, like right now. If I’m at pick 12-14 I’ll take Jones.

  4. NYBrewCrew says:

    I took the Plunge, After Drafting B. Westbrook at #8, I was hoping to get MJD or Bush who went early. I took a deep breath and hit draft on Benson. This is a 12 team league.

  5. Autumn Thunder says:

    John,

    I agree with your feelings here. I have always stood by your 2 RB’s with the first two picks philosophy and it has not failed me in the past. I usually play in 12 team leagues.

    Would the same philosophy hold true for a 10 team league? I have a #8 pick there. I would be tempted to take a top WR in the second round and follow in round three with a back. Just curious.

  6. PackFan says:

    There seems to be an interesting dynamic between these two Bears players. The better Cedric Benson plays, the more it will force opposing defenses to respect the run, meaning a safety has to come up to put “8 men in the box” to help stop the run . . . which might make Rex more effective in the passing game.

    If Benson cannot carry the load, there may not be a back of Thomas Jones’ caliber left on the roster, which means the safety can instead play the pass, making it more difficult for Rex to throw. The Bears took a calculated risk in almost giving Jones to the Jets, so you know they believe in Benson. And so, if you draft Rex, it sort of means you are placing your faith in Cedric as well.

    But if you pick Benson in say, the second round – it basically means you are intending to rely on him to assume stud status for your team. So for me, the question is … can I stomach having to RELY on Cedric Benson, given his current track record? Or am I going to grind my teeth every week knowing the guy I didn’t pick in the 2nd round is ripping up the league while Cedric sits out nursing an injury?

    Or will I be sending you candy & flowers as a token of my appreciation while Cedric my man rolls towards 1500 yards and double digit TDs and my fantasy squad puts a stranglehold on first place? I don’t think I’m going to know the answer to that until draft night, when perhaps I might be faced with that decision. Ah, fantasy football … Love It!

  7. John Hansen says:

    One thing to remember Gump is that Benson was going to be the guy over Jones last year, but he got hurt. I’ve been a fan of Jones from Day One in Chicago, as regular readers should know, but he’s not as talented as Benson. Jones actually produces on the field, and you have to recognize that, but Benson is clearly a better player talent-wise.

  8. blogginator says:

    I have pick 2 in a high roller league. My dilemma with pick 23 overall is: take Benson, or receivers like Owens, Fitz, Boldin, and maybe Roy Williams or Andre Johnson. The other top WR’s are usually gone.

  9. PackFan says:

    Yup … Cedric is like a box of chocolates … ya just don’t know what you’re going to get. At any rate, I’m still going to take Adrian Peterson (the lesser of the two) with my very last pick, just in case the best laid plans in Bear camp go awry. For me, that position is usually waiver wire fodder anyway, and who knows, maybe a second tier back on a Super Bowl contender won’t be that bad. Lord knows I’ve made dumber moves.

  10. mvuinc says:

    I too, have high hopes on Benson. He’s easily a top 10 back if healthy. With the Bears’ ravaging D, he’s just going to pound and pound away.

    Michael Vu
    CTO/Founder
    http://www.FantasySportsMatrix.com

    …a social network for sports fans.

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