Image Credit: John Sommers II/Icon SMI

Why does everyone hate Cedric Benson? Sure, if you were his roommate at some point it may not have been great, or if you went boating with him, but as a fantasy owner, why are so many people avoiding him until the fourth or even fifth round of fantasy drafts?

At a recent draft I selected him in the third round and I was laughed at. Openly condemned. Judged. Later in the day at another draft he was still there in the fourth round, so I selected him again. And again, I was met with the same jeers and condemnation that had assailed me earlier. But why? As far as RB’s go he is in as close to an ideal situation as any RB could be.

Bears fans will never forgive him and that’s understandable, but Bengals fans love him. After getting picked up off the scrap heap he blew up in Cinci and surprisingly his yardage totals, along with his carries have increased in each of his six years as a pro and yet this year will be the first time in his career he is an undisputed #1 RB.

Even last year, when had had a career high 321 carries and 1,111 yards rushing, he was involved in a RB rotation, with back-up Bernard Scott playing every third series. Now that the rotation has been dumped Ced Ben’s going to get the ball until his legs fall off. In a league dominated by the “committee” approach to RB’s, how does this not increase his value?

Further, Benson is entering the prime of his career, coming off of a career high 8 total TD and 28 receptions for you PPR nerds. The Bengals offense is forced to rely on him more than ever with a rookie starting QB, a rookie #1 WR and a second year starting TE. That’s why his week one matchup versus the Browns really gets my fantasy juices flowing. In his last game vs. the Browns, Benson totaled 31 carries for 150 yards and a TD.

So what is it, fantasy football enthusiast- what is there not to love about Cedric Benson in 2011?