Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault after an early-morning altercation on May 30th.
In the “nothing good happens after midnight” category, Benson allegedly punched a bar employee in the face after being escorted out of the establishment. Prior to that, Benson had gotten into an altercation with a bar patron and allegedly spit in his face. Making matters more noteworthy, the spit was blood-laden from the altercation.
Benson, who has been somewhat underappreciated in fantasy circles over the past two years, has been seeking a new contract from the Bengals—something that the Bengal brass has seemed somewhat amenable to.
While Benson’s charges could carry jail time up to one year, it stands to reason that no time will be served and, if found guilty, the greatest risk involves a possible multiple-game suspension.
So, what does this mean for other players on the Bengals?
Bernard Scott RB
Scott would immediately be the benefactor of any Benson suspension.
Scott was a sleeper favorite in 2009 and did manage to rack up a 4.3 avg with 74 carries. While not built like Benson, at 5′10″ and 200 lbs. Scott runs with surprising power and is capable out of the backfield, although No. 3 back Brian Leonard would likely take on the third down role.
While Scott is 26 years old, he does project as Benson’s immediate replacement should a suspension be in the cards. More importantly, this event could sour the desire of management to reward Benson with a new contract.
Recent history would seem to suggest, however, that character is still not of tremendous concern for the organization. If Scott does get a chance to start and he produces, there is the possibility that the Bengals could view him as a back with long-term potential.
Brian Leonard RB
Leonard has not shown enough progress on the ground (3.4 ypc. avg.) in his three years in the NFL to be considered a suitable replacement for Benson.
While he is dependable in short yardage and passing situations, Scott still projects as the primary ball carrier in any Benson absence. Leonard will pick up touches in spot third down duty and would like receive as many carries as he does receptions, but he does not need to be rostered at this point.
The Bengals' Passing Attack
The loss of Benson could have a small impact on the other skill positions within the offense, but not such that would significantly reduce the value of QB Carson Palmer, WR Chad Ochocinco, WR Antonio Bryant or TE Jermaine Gresham. No need to adjust their value on your sheets.
Benson’s recent alleged transgression(s) shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, trouble seems to routinely find the Bengals. Whether due to a lack of leadership or management’s lack of priority in character selection, the fantasy prospects of Bengal players leaves a lot to be desired.
When examining the future prospects of Benson, it is tough to come up with anything other than question marks. Of course, doesn’t that also apply to all other skill positions in Cincinnati?
If this is an isolated incident, Benson’s long term value and productivity could remain somewhat stable. But even with that rating, Benson is not a RB that you can count on. Benson will be 28 at year's end, and that coupled with his legal issues means that he must be downgraded after this event.
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