Punch Drunk Wonderland

Understanding the Travis Benjamin Breakout

Through the first two weeks of the season I found myself snickering as I watched fantasy owners pick up Travis Benjamin. “Look at the games. Those fantasy numbers are special teams flukes. It won’t hold up.” Now going into Week 6 Benjamin has migrated from return game stud to primary target in the passing game for Cleveland. I couldn’t have been more wrong. What gives? That’s precisely what our friends at numberFire have looked into.

R.A. Dickey, Josh Hamilton, and Kurt Warner all enjoyed success in their respective sports after breaking out late in their careers.

After playing many years in professional sports, or waiting many years to enter the professional ranks, it is rare to see late-career developments like these vault such players in to stardom.

Once a player knocks on the door to the professional ranks, or enters as a pro, there is only so long that such development is expected to materialize. While fans hold their breath hoping for a player to reach his potential after so long, that faith should end as a player is unlikely to meet it.

For wide receivers, the third year as a pro is the year they are expected to prove their skills. While Rueben Randle might finally be emerging in New York in his fourth year after having fans holding their breath for his career, another fourth-year pro is enjoying a far more shocking and impressive breakout: Travis Benjamin.

Benjamin was an unheralded fourth-round draft pick who was used mainly as a returner and occasional deep threat prior to this year. Benjamin was formerly buried in the shadows of Josh Gordon when Gordon produced a near historic season in 2013. Since then Benjamin was never considered as a potential breakout candidate.

But after his early-season success, it’s time to find out if this breakout is a fluke or sustainable.

Diminutive Stature

Despite the emphasis on wide receiver size in the current NFL, Benjamin, 5’10” and 175 pounds, is making an on-field impact.

While he compares closest to Eddie Royal athletically according to PlayerProfiler.com, Benjamin also resembles rookie Tyler Lockett, who has been lauded as a dynamic playmaker.

Prior to this year, Benjamin was looking more like DeSean Jackson, who also profiles in a similar athletic manner, as a pure deep threat with blazing speed.

Now after ascending the Browns’ thin receiver depth chart, Benjamin is showing he is more than just a one-trick pony, and his newly minted profile is providing a healthy spark to the overall passing offense in Cleveland.

Continue reading at numberFire.com… (@numberfire)


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