The Green Bay Packers signed veteran running back Cedric Benson this preseason to bolster a severely undermanned backfield that will need to at least threaten in 2012 if the Pack are to return to the Super Bowl.
A 1,000-plus-yard rusher in each of the past three NFL seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, Benson is a reliable fantasy option for owners looking to add a guy who's guaranteed to churn out points each week.
Here we break down Benson's fantasy outlook for the 2012 season.
Where He Ranks
With so little experience and explosion in Green Bay's backfield, Benson will have plenty of opportunities to carry the ball for the Packers this season.
Still, owners would be best-suited targeting him in the eighth round at the earliest.
Benson's average draft position is 77th overall in ESPN fantasy leagues. He also ranks as the 30th-best running back available in fantasy football, according to ESPN.
Benson had a disappointing preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs Aug. 30, rushing for just 11 yards on four carries and fumbling on his first touch of the game.
As the Green Bay Press-Gazette's Rob Demovsky points out, Benson's ball security has been an issue in recent seasons. Benson has fumbled 12 times in the past two seasons, losing seven of them.
With James Starks doubtful for the start of the regular season on Sept. 9 vs. the San Francisco 49ers and second-year running back Alex Green having little regular-season experience, look for Benson to carry a bulk of the load for Green Bay.
Benson is a reliable rusher when he holds onto the ball, and that should allow him to see 65-70 percent of the Packers' carries in 2012.
With Benson expected to be the No. 1 running back in Green Bay this season, look for him to carry the ball at least 200 times.
Here are my projections for Benson in 2012: 210 carries, 850 yards, seven touchdowns, 12 receptions, 100 yards.
Bye Week: Week 10
RBs to Target Before Benson
Roy Helu, DeAngelo Williams and Beanie Wells are all running backs on Benson's level whom fantasy owners would be better off with in 2012.
It's no surprise that the Packers love to air the ball out, and that means Benson risks going unnoticed in Green Bay's offense for stretches at a time if Rodgers and the passing game are rolling.
RBs to Target After Benson
Some running backs fantasy owners should target only after Benson is off the board include Michael Bush, Peyton Hillis and Kevin Smith.
Although the Packers are primarily a pass-first offense, Benson promises to either earn more touches or make more of his rushing attempts than all of the aforementioned players.
Benson has nearly as many rushing yards for his career as all three have combined.
The Packers boasted the sixth-worst rushing attack in the NFL last season, but Benson provides them with a dependable veteran rusher who should average close to four yards per carry for fantasy owners this fall.
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