Travis Benjamin: Fantasy Hoax
Through three games, Travis Benjamin of the Cleveland Browns is the #4 overall WR in standard scoring leagues. You heard that right, 4th. Many have already picked him up, with an ownership percentage of 70.9%. He has 249 yards and 4 TDs on 10 catches and 17 targets, and I’m here to tell you it’s all a sham. Benjamin has only been on the field for 64.6% of Browns offensive snaps, behind Andrew Hawkins at 73.4%. That is an incredibly low rate for both of them, considering most #1 WRs are on the field upwards of 85% of the time.
Benjamin has scored 4 TDs on 10 catches, an incredibly unsustainable rate. There is no chance that this continues, even if the Browns continue to use him in the exact same role. He has a yards per catch of 24.9, 1st in the league through three weeks. This is also unsustainable. He has been targeted 17 times, which is currently tied for 57th among WRs. 57th in targets, 4th in WR scoring. See an issue here??
This is Benjamin’s 4th season. He has never amassed more than 318 yards in any season. His pedigree was not all that great to begin with, drafted as a 4th rounder in 2012. Through his career, Benjamin has been nothing more than a gadget player, who runs deep nearly every route, and catches less than 50% of his targets. This explains his low snap percentage. If a play is designed to get only a few yards, there is no reason to put him on the field.
Last season, Benjamin got off to a similar start, scoring 3 TDs in his first 4 games. Over the next 12 games, he didn’t score a single time. I don’t expect the same kind of drop off, but we have seen this kind of production from him before and it simply can’t hold up. Last year was the best season of his career, and yet he had 5 games with no catches, and 7 games with only one. That’s 12 games with 0 or 1 catch. He averaged 2.9 targets/games in 2014, and while it is up to 5.7/game so far in 2015, that number is still too low for consistent performance.
I’m not here to tell you that Benjamin is worthless. Rather, this is a word of warning not to overreact. The theme is that Benjamin’s rates are highly unsustainable. There is simply no way that he can continue producing at his current rate, based on his snap percentage and target rate. If he’s on your roster, he’s worth a stash to see if his role increases. If he gets more snaps and more targets, he should be fairly valuable. He is a boom or bust type player, who will bust more often than he booms. He is essentially a poor man’s Torrey Smith. For now, he is nothing more than a WR4. Unless his usage increases, he will be irrelevant in a matter of weeks.