Benson has finally arrived

Cedric Benson now leads the NFL in rushing with 487 yards on 111 carries.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - On Sunday afternoon, Cedric Benson became the first running back in 39 games to post at least 100 yards on the ground against the Baltimore Ravens. The fifth-year running back carried the ball 27 times against a team that was yielding just 59.5 ypg over the first four weeks and ground out 120 yards.

"He's as physical a runner as there is," said quarterback Carson Palmer on the team's website. "He's fast. There was some explosion on the touchdown. He can do it all. We need to keep him healthy and follow his lead."

Benson now leads the NFL in rushing with 487 yards on 111 carries, for a solid 4.4 ypc average. He also has three touchdowns to account for his 78 fantasy points. That should put him around seventh among running backs when the week's games are completed Monday night.

Not bad for the Bengals running back who was selected behind 29 other backs on Draft Day. With a RapidDraft ADP of 54.9. Benson was likely a fifth-round pick that day, but has played well above that estimated value.

Benson opened the season with a solid 108 combined yards and one score against the tough Denver Broncos' defense then really showed what he was capable of with 29 rushes for 141 yards in a Week 2 win against Green Bay. Fantasy owners who started him have already survived games against Pittsburgh and Baltimore, so the future bodes well for the former Texas Longhorn.

That's a far cry from what he's done in his first four years in the NFL. He came out of Texas with much fanfare, but during his first three seasons in Chicago, he produced very little - except headaches. He never ran for more than 675 yards or scored more than six touchdowns in a season. He did, however, run into trouble with the law.

In June 2008, Benson passed through waivers without being claimed by a single team and in September was signed by Cincinnati.

Benson ran for 747 yards and two TDs in 2008-09 and caught 20 balls for 185 yards. He averaged 118 yards-per-game over the final three games of the season and re-signed with the Bengals.

He has been the team's "workhorse" through the first five games and they are a surprising 4-1.

All signs point to his continuing to produce and the game against the always tough Ravens' running defense should have proved to every fantasy owner that he will be a force for the rest of the year. I was just a "semi-believer" until yesterday, now I'll start him for the remainder of the year no matter who the opponent.

Benson's Career Rushing Statistics
Year Team Gm RuAtt RuYds Ave TD
2005 CHI 9 67 272 4.0 0
2006 CHI 15 157 647 4.1 6
2007 CHI 11 197 674 3.4 4
2008 CIN 12 214 747 3.5 2
2009 CIN 5 111 487 4.4 3


Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.