After two offseason incidents and rampant speculation that a suspension would be handed down, it finally looks like Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson will be out of action for a while. According to ESPN.com, Benson is facing a three-game suspension, but plans to appeal.
While Benson is likely to play and start Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, due to the appeals process, he will have to serve a suspension after that, which could last as long as three games or possibly be reduced to just two games.
This may generally be bad news for the Bengals, due to Benson's tough running in the early stages of the season, but one person it will certainly benefit is Benson's backup, Bernard Scott. Despite Scott being on the Bengals for three seasons, he has never gotten a true opportunity to showcase his skills.
In limited carries, Scott has appeared to be a very explosive back. He averaged nearly five yards per carry last year and 4.3 the year before. He may be a bit diminutive at 5'10" and 198 lbs., but he has speed to burn and brings a different dimension than the plodding Benson.
Scott will have to make the most of this opportunity if he ever wants to start for the Bengals, and I believe he will. Benson looked slow and nonexplosive last year, so Scott figured to be in line for more carries in 2011. That hasn't happened yet, but it will now, out of necessity.
With fantasy owners perpetually looking for the next big thing at running back, Scott will surely be a hot commodity on the waiver wire this week in anticipation of his increased workload. Luckily, Scott is pretty scarcely owned, so he should be fair game.
Ultimately, I view Scott as the better and more complete back; all he needs is a chance to showcase his abilities. Provided Benson is suspended from Week 4 through Week 6, Scott will have some very favorable matchups to exploit.
The Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts are all on tap for Scott and the Bengals in those particular weeks. Buffalo had one of the league's worst run defenses last season, Jacksonville is nothing more than your average team and the Colts are in shambles.
It stands to reason that Scott could run wild during this stretch and perhaps pry the full-time gig away from Benson. On a one-year contract, the Bengals really have no commitment to Benson, so they can afford to make Scott the feature back if they truly believe he is the better player at this point.
Regardless of your fantasy team's depth at running back, you should make adding Scott to your roster a top priority. At the very least, he should be a productive and stat-worthy player for a three-week stretch, but even better, he could be vaulted to fantasy stardom.