Chicago Bears - Is Cedric Benson ready to carry the load at running back?
Ever since he was drafted with the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft, Benson has been rumored to take over as the No. 1 back for the Bears. After all, what team spends such a high selection on a player who's not going to see the field? Well, Chicago apparently. Benson was unable to take over the starting job from Thomas Jones during the past two seasons. That changes this year with Jones being dealt to the Jets. The good news for Benson is that he'll be the featured back, is 24 years old and will be running behind one of the league's best offensive lines. The bad news is that he couldn't take over the starting job for two years, he doesn't have much upside in the passing game and he's never been a featured back. Those are serious red flags for me, and I could see Benson being a bust this season. Chicago doesn't exactly have a ton of other weapons to help out the run game, and I can't get over the fact that it took him this long to take over as a starter. He'll likely be drafted as a No. 2 back, but I'm probably going to steer clear of Benson on draft day.
Green Bay Packers - Who will get the ball at running back?
This is a more important question than you might think. Consider that in '06, Ahman Green, Vernand Morency and Noah Herron combined for 1,630 yards. With Green gone, the Packers feature back should produce a decent fantasy season. So who will the feature back be? Morency was slated to be the starter, but he'll be sidelined with a knee injury for at least a couple weeks at the beginning of training camp. That means if rookie Brandon Jackson can impress the coaching staff early, he has a chance to be an immediate contributor. And finally, Herron will be in the mix also. Even though the running back situation is confusing at this point, I won't shy away from drafting whoever the front-runner is as my third running back. This is an important position battle to observe during training camp and the preseason.
Detroit Lions - Can Jon Kitna make good on his predictions?
Earlier this offseason, the Lions signal caller said Detroit would win 10 games in '07, and then he was asked about how many touchdown passes he'd throw. Half-jokingly (I think), Kitna set the number at 50. Hmm...I'll go out on a limb and say neither of those numbers are likely, but let's get to his fantasy value. Only three quarterbacks (Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Marc Bulger) threw for more yards than Kitna last season. Then there's the bad news. The Lions quarterback had 22 interceptions and 21 touchdowns. So what's changed for '07? Detroit drafted wide receiver Calvin Johnson with its first pick, further strengthening an already solid receiving corps that includes Roy Williams and Mike Furrey. Kitna is a good example of why it can pay to wait for a quarterback. He's not exciting, and you'll never brag about having him on your team. But in the end, Detroit throws the ball a lot, and Kitna will pile up yardage numbers. And the truth is, he probably won't be among the top-10 quarterbacks off the board in most drafts.
Minnesota Vikings - Is Chester Taylor an attractive option at running back?
There's not a whole lot to like about the offensive fantasy options in Minnesota this season. Taylor was solid in his first season with the Vikings, piling up more than 1,500 rushing/receiving yards. However, things don't look so promising for him in '07. For starters, Taylor wore down towards the end of last season, with just one 100-yard game over the final 10 weeks. Now he'll have to deal with Vikings first-round pick Adrian Peterson getting carries in what's suddenly a crowded backfield. Add in the fact that Taylor found the end zone just six times last season, and he's not a very likeable option this year. That being said, Peterson is certainly an injury risk, and Taylor could be relied on more in the passing game with inexperienced Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback. He should be considered a third running back.