Kelvin Benjamin Is a Fantasy Must-Have Given Strong Preseason Showing

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIAugust 15, 2014

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (13) walks across the field prior to  a preseason NFL football game Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
MIKE MCCARN/Associated Press

Kelvin Benjamin is on track to be the rookie you'll regret passing on during your 2014 fantasy football drafts.

There are plenty of rookies going early in drafts. Sammy Watkins, for one, plays the same position as Benjamin. Everyone knows what Watkins is capable of. He has the potential to drastically change the offense of the Buffalo Bills and the career of EJ Manuel.

That is going to make him an early-round choice for many fantasy owners.

Benjamin probably won't be selected as early. The Florida State product battled drops at times in college and was taken at the tail end of the first round (28th overall) by the Carolina Panthers.

At 6'5", 241 pounds, he is the perfect wideout for Cam Newton.

Newton can be a little erratic at times. He forces throws into small spaces, often resulting in overthrows. Well, it's going to be extraordinarily difficult to overthrow Benjamin. His leaping ability is merely good, but his sheer size helps to make up for that.

His size also helps him in traffic. Head coach Ron Rivera has tested his ability in traffic early during training camp:

The rookie is already off to a good start this preseason. He was targeted on the first pass of the Panthers' first preseason game on August 8, but wound up with just one catch in that game. His one catch, however, was spectacular:

Notice that Benjamin stumbled over the feet of cornerback Stephen Gilmore. He still managed to make the great catch.

With that said, he didn't think the catch was that impressive. "I mean, it really was a normal catch other than me stumbling,'' he told reporters.

One catch might not be enough to convince fantasy owners that Benjamin is worth a reach, but the fact that Newton and Benjamin have already developed a very close relationship should be.

The Associated Press first reported the bond:

Newton has forged a close relationship on and off the field with wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, the Panthers' first-round draft pick from Florida State.

Together the duo has been lighting it up in practice, connecting regularly on crossing routes and deep balls. When they're not playing pitch and catch, they've been practically inseparable, even spending time together recently boating on Lake Lanier outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

Newton said from the moment he first talked to Benjamin "there was a connection."

Good chemistry is key for a quarterback and wide receiver, especially a young pairing like Newton and Benjamin.

This chemistry will help get Benjamin a ton of looks. He was already in line for big touches given the lack of depth on the Panthers. Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant are currently the other two notable receivers on the roster, and neither has the upside for 2014.

The Panthers are in line to regress in 2014. That shouldn't scare owners. The fate of a team has nothing to do with the production of its individual parts.

Benjamin will go through a few ups and downs during his rookie campaignlike most rookies dobut don't let that scare you away from taking him. lists Benjamin's average draft position as 125.77. That's behind wideouts like Riley Cooper and Brandin Cooks.

Benjamin deserves to go ahead of those guys. He's going to be a stud one day in fantasy.

Don't be surprised if he establishes must-start status at some point this season. He's in a good position to succeed right away.


Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR