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Benson's return to Cincy not that exciting

3/3/2009

Even after the way Cedric Benson flamed out in Chicago, I thought he'd end up finding work again. Just about everyone, no matter how much of a disappointing high draft pick they are, eventually gets another chance or two. I just wasn't so sure there would be an actual competition for his services.

Benson decided to stick with the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday, getting a two-year contract and saving the Houston Texans from ... um, I mean depriving poor Houston Texans fans from the joy of watching Benson run for them. I don't understand why the Texans were interested anyway. How much more could rookie running back Steve Slaton have done for them? The fact they showed interest at all makes me wonder.

The Bengals, however, a day after losing popular wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, figured they should keep some of their assets in place. In fairness, Benson did kind of resurrect his career, I suppose, in that he had a couple of big rushing games and ran for 747 yards and finished with three consecutive games of 15 or more fantasy points. Maybe I shouldn't be so negative; Benson ran for 171 yards at Cleveland in Week 16, then went for 111 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs in the season finale.

I wouldn't call Benson a burgeoning fantasy star, though, so don't let Cincy's infatuation make you, the fantasy owner, believe this is a rock-solid starter in our game. For one, Benson's big resurrection featured two touchdowns. Second, he averaged 3.5 yards per carry. Third, well, he's Cedric Benson. Don't get any ideas that his 2009 season will look like the old Rudi Johnson campaigns in the Queen City.

Then again, maybe the Texans were on to something, because they intended to make Benson a backup. The Bengals could do the same thing, and they didn't make the kind of financial commitment that guarantees Benson a ton of carries. Keep an eye on how they proceed in the draft, or who else emerges in-house (Chris Perry, ever?). If Benson holds the starting job, I could see a season similar to Jamal Lewis' in 2008; he got so many carries he couldn't help but reach 1,000 yards, but he didn't score much, and wasn't worth much in fantasy. That's how I see Benson. Just because the Bengals signed him and could make him the starter doesn't mean fantasy owners should.