Kelvin Benjamin Will Continue Fantasy Tear in Week 4 vs. Ravens

Sean ODonnellContributor IIISeptember 27, 2014

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 14:  Kelvin Benjamin #13 of the Carolina Panthers during the game at Bank of America Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Kelvin Benjamin didn't take long to reassure the Carolina Panthers that selecting him in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft was a brilliant decision.

Through three games this season, Benjamin's 253 receiving yards top all rookies by a long shot, and his 16 receptions are second to only Brandin Cooks of the New Orleans Saints.

Benjamin was the lone bright spot during the team's Week 3 home defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers, racking up eight receptions for 115 yards and a score. In fact, take a look at how viable he's been in each contest this season:

Kelvin Benjamin's Stats Through Week 3

Knox Bardeen of Fox Sports tweeted his take after the rookie's Week 3 showing:

Knox Bardeen @knoxbardeen

Holy cow Kelvin Benjamin. What an insane TD catch. Rough night for the #Panthers, but this kid is gonna be great

Expect Benjamin's fantasy tear to continue in Week 4 against a suspect Baltimore Ravens secondary.

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First, take notice to Benjamin's ability to stretch the field. When he entered the NFL, many draft gurus pegged him as a wide receiver whose upside would only be as a red-zone target.

While he's certainly been a viable target in the end zone—two scores in three games isn't too shabby—he's recorded at least one reception of over 20 yards in each contest.

Bleacher Report's Ryan Riddle summed it up best:

Ryan Riddle @Ryan_Riddle

Kelvin Benjamin is one of those rare guys who actually plays better in the NFL than he did in college.

Benjamin's rapport with Cam Newton has been simply splendid so early in the wide receiver's young career. The Florida State product has notched 27 targets so far this season. That's good enough for first on the team, beating out tight end Greg Olsen's 26 targets.

The chemistry between Newton and Benjamin can be summarized by one Pro Football Focus (subscription required) stat. The rookie is ranked 22nd in the NFL in receiving efficiency with a rating of positive-1.2.

To put that in perspective, that's better than Roddy White, Reggie Wayne, Michael Crabtree and many others.

According to former Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, Newton and Benjamin have even more in common, via David Newton of ESPN.com:

David Newton @DNewtonespn

Steve Smith on #Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin. "He's a 6-foot 5 Cam Newton with dreads.''

So, we know Benjamin is rolling along nicely in Carolina's offense. Here's why he'll put up big numbers against Baltimore.

The Ravens secondary hasn't been solid this season. Heading into Week 4, the team is giving up an average of 264.3 passing yards per game—good enough to rank just 25th in the league.

Opposing No. 1 wide receivers have been able to exploit this unit, as A.J. Green racked up 131 yards and a touchdown, Antonio Brown accumulated 90 receiving yards and Andrew Hawkins went for 87.

During an interview with Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees spoke of the secondary's struggles against the deep ball:

Well, 'miscommunication' would not be one of the words I would have used. I would have said, 'Very poor technique in the back end.' There's a couple of them [where] there wasn't any communication. Just line up and play your position. We were beat on a three-deep coverage that I don't know what the communication there is other than, 'Get your [butt] deep.' So, I would not go that route.

Adding to the Ravens' woes is the possibility of being without starting cornerback Jimmy Smith. According to the team's official Twitter account, he didn't practice on Friday:


OLB Terrell Suggs (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (knee/ankle) and RB Bernard Pierce (thigh) are all PROBABLE.

Considering Benjamin's ability to stretch the field early this season, a matchup against this unit sure appears favorable.

Benjamin may be the most reliable offensive rookie in the fantasy football realm right now. While others are capable of putting up big points, only he has consistently produced from the onset of the season.

With each passing week, Benjamin continues to display a good understanding of his offense, and his workload out of the gate is a testament to that.

Fantasy owners should absolutely roll with Benjamin this week. He's improving on a blistering pace, and he's facing a defense that he's more than capable of exploiting.

This rookie's tear won't come to a sudden halt in Week 4. Start him with confidence.

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