“Coming from Cleveland, I didn’t have a quarterback
throughout my years there, said Benjamin to Matthew Florjancic of
WKYC. “I just wanted to get with a quarterback and put on
the best show I can. There were a couple other teams, but the Chargers
were always my No. 1 because of the Hall of Fame quarterback they
have in Philip Rivers.”
Benjamin in Cleveland
The 26-year-old former Miami Hurricane posted “career-year”
numbers in 2015, taking advantage of No. 1 wideout Josh Gordon’s
latest suspension to post 68 receptions for 966 yards and five touchdowns.
Each of those totals matched or exceeded his production from his
first three seasons … combined. That was good enough to be
a top-30 fantasy receiver last season as he came in at No. 28 making
him a WR3.
Benjamin in San Diego
Benjamin was the deep threat in Cleveland averaging 17.5 ypr during
his first three seasons. That average took a significant hit in
2015 as he become a more complete receiver, but he still recorded
four 50-plus-yard receptions last year, which trailed only Odell
Beckham Jr. and Antonio
Brown (five each). He’ll return to his role as the “zone stretcher”
with his new team in San Diego replacing just-retired Malcom
Unfortunately, Benjamin is unlikely to see anywhere near the 125
targets he saw in 2015. His new team already has an elite receiver
Allen and future Hall-of-Fame tight end Antonio
Gates. That’s not all. The Chargers have a load of talented
weapons on offense besides Allen and Gates, including solid veteran
Woodhead an extraordinary receiver out of the backfield and
a talented young runner in Melvin
There is another reason he won’t see as many opportunities.
Rivers plays behind an extremely questionable offensive line.
According to Pro Football Focus, the San Diego offensive line ranked
dead last in pass-blocking. With Rivers’ slowness of foot
(I’m being very kind) the line must block well for the Chargers’
offense to succeed.
Injuries hurt them last season as 12 players took snaps on the line
and the lack of continuity contributed to their failure, but Orlando
Franklin and D.J. Fluker played well below expectations and they
will have to step up their game because that’s the only way
Rivers will have time to throw the deep ball.
Benjamin’s 2016 fantasy value
Although he’ll be in a better situation with the better
quarterback he’s always dreamed of, Benjamin’s fantasy
value is likely to drop this season. There are simply too many
“mouths to feed.” The man he replaced, Floyd, never
exceeded 856 yards in a season or six touchdowns. Benjamin won’t
either. Barring an injury to Allen, I’m only expecting 42
receptions for 735 yards and five scores. That’s similar
to what Markus Wheaton produced last season and the Steeler receiver’s
fantasy value was minimal (except for one extraordinary game against
Seattle in Week 11).
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.