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The Underrated Potential of Kelvin Benjamin

Source: Five Practice Observations: Day 1

“It could be a good harbinger for us seeing Kelvin maybe not at top form but pretty doggone good form,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “He’s still got a ways to go to get back in game shape, but it was really good to see him move around like that.”Benjamin practiced with confidence and made tough catches look easy – something he did throughout last year’s training camp prior to the injury.  His first catch came on a slant in traffic and drew a big cheer from the fans who packed Gibbs Stadium. Later, he used his body to shield rookie cornerback Daryl Worley on a dig route.

In general it’s fair to say that we’re somewhat down on Kelvin Benjamin as we expect him to have more competition for targets in 2016 than he had as a rookie. But Benjamin’s return has the potential to have a positive impact on Cam Newton, if for no other reason than that it’s always better to have more weapons. Carolina was third in passing Fantasy Points Over Expectation last year, so they are probably in store for some regression with or without Benjamin. But Benjamin could help fend off some of that regression if he plays well. In fact I think it’s fair to say that Carolina will go from having one of the least desirable WR groups in the league to having one that could make some noise. In addition to Benjamin’s return, Devin Funchess will be a 22 year old second year player.

While it’s true that Benjamin was not efficient as a rookie, he realistically only needed a few bounces of the ball to go in the other direction and he would have looked really efficient. Dropping targets in the red zone is not good for your per play efficiency and Benjamin did that a few times.

I’m allergic to drafting QBs with high picks so even though it only requires an early fourth round pick to draft last year’s top QB, who will likely have even more weapons in 2016, I haven’t taken Newton in any drafts yet. But I’m starting to wonder if that’s a silly result of habit. There has to be a point where it makes sense to draft the top QB, even if recent years have not rewarded people taking the top QB. Of course, every time I start to look at the possibility of drafting Cam in the third round I see Drew Brees going in the sixth or seventh and I forget about Cam pretty quickly. Drew Brees is the top scoring QB over the last four years (in total) and if anything he has better weapons this year than he did last year.

If you weren’t able to stay interested for the 400 words in this article and skipped for a tl;dr version it’s this: Benjamin’s biggest impact could be helping Cam fend off regression, Cam is a really cheap top QB, I am probably still targeting Drew Brees.

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