Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Has there ever been a more imperfect fit for an offense than Cedric Benson is for the Packers?
I mean, talk about trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Benson is a plodder and a symbol of mediocrity. He's just good enough to get you 1,000 yards if you want to dedicate 300-plus carries to him. However, giving him 300-plus carries is also a good way to get your fan base to stay home on game day (Cincinnati was last in the NFL in attendance last season).
Meanwhile, the Packers had the most prolific passing offense in the league in 2012, averaging 9.4 yards per attempt. Adding Benson to that is like following a massive fireworks display with a screening of "Lost in Translation" and expecting people to stick around for it.
However, from the way Benson is being drafted as of late it would seem like fantasy owners expect him to be the second coming of Dorsey Levens or Ahman Green, both of whom received 320-plus carries from the Packers once upon a time.
In one month, Benson has gone from being drafted in the 14th round to the early fifth in fantasyfootballcalculator.com mock drafts, 24th among running backs.
Let's get to the obvious first. Roster cutdowns have past and James Starks is still a member of the 53-man active squad. That means the Packers expect to get something out of the turf-toe ridden Starks this season.
Green Bay also has Alex Green, who is the most immediate threat to take snaps from Benson. Even if the Packers didn't acquire Benson, I suspect the team always wanted Green to take over lead-back duties by midseason. They just needed a placeholder as insurance, since Green is recovering from the ACL surgery he had nine months ago. Starks was too injury prone to be that placeholder.
Green is a better fit than Benson for the Packers offense due to his pass catching abilities, but he's no scatback. The 225-pound Green rates as a solid inside runner and figures to be no worse between the tackles than Benson.
Green Bay is still a pass-first offense looking for the big play at all times, and Benson is not going to provide that kind of home-run hitting potential. Plus, there won't be many carries to go around between Benson, Green and Starks. The Packers ran the ball 395 times last season, the seventh least in the NFL. Sixty of those carries were handled by quarterback Aaron Rodgers and another 30 by John Kuhn. Starks and Ryan Grant shared a measly 267 rushes.
I project Benson will carry the ball 166 times for 647 yards and four touchdowns this season, numbers that, when combined with his poor receiving production, barely make him rosterable in fantasy leagues. I'd much rather own Stevan Ridley, Peyton Hillis, Donald Brown and even the insufferable Shonn Green, four backs who are going after Benson in the most recent fantasy mocks.