Brighter times are ahead for WR Arrelious Benn.
His first season didn't go as well as the Buccaneers would have liked. Benn, a second-round pick in 2010, started slowly, making only nine catches in his first eight games. There were signs of improvement in the second half — he made 16 grabs in the final seven contests, including a four-catch, 122-yard performance against the Redskins in Week 14 — before a torn ACL in Week 16 landed him on the injured reserve.
While he wasn't able to work with coaches or fully utilize the team's training and medical staff because of the lockout, indications are his recovery from surgery to repair the injury is right on schedule. Benn has looked good in the early stages of training camp, running and cutting and he expects to be at full strength by Week One.
With no signs that the knee is bothering him or slowing him down, fantasy owners ought to keep him on their radar and give strong consideration to stashing him on their roster. He's likely to be available in the late rounds of drafts in most formats — he could come off the board a bit earlier in keeper leagues — and while he was overshadowed by fellow rookie WR Mike Williams' impressive debut season, Benn should significantly close the wide gap in production between himself and Williams (65-964-11) in Year Two.
Assuming he's healthy and in good shape, Benn will be starting and could find himself in favorable coverage if defenses focus on limiting Williams. Defensive coordinators also have to account for TE Kellen Winslow, so the Bucs have a solid trio of pass catchers. Plus, QB Josh Freeman is blossoming into one of the league's better quarterbacks.
Benn is no track star, but with good size, deceptive speed and run-after-the-catch ability, he has the tools to become a solid complement to Williams. His numbers are going to improve, and probably by a significant amount.
It makes sense for owners to be looking for a young prospect with the potential to help immediately when drafts roll into the final few rounds. Benn fits the bill. He could be cracking starting lineups in fantasy leagues if all goes well.
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