Before I begin, I’ll remind you that I prefer my crow steamed, not baked. Actually, I’d rather not eat crow at all if given a choice for my shame meal, and instead I’d like to be served a plate of guppies, the fish world’s answer to the pigeon.
With that pre-prediction cowering out of the way, let’s begin the Martellus Bennett pumping.
As he eases into his new surroundings and into the Giants’ offense, Bennett is gradually getting an increased role. He’s had touchdowns in both games so far, and in this past Sunday’s comeback win over the Bucs he finished with a career high 72 receiving yards.
That’s not necessarily surprising, and it was fully expected. Bennett left Dallas — where he was Jason Witten’s backup — as a free agent to pursue a starting role atop a Giants TE depth chart that was destroyed by various torn ligaments during the Super Bowl. Beyond just learning that dinosaur beds are ideal for football players during training camp and claiming that he’s everyone, everywhere at all times, Bennett has quickly started to showcase his upside, and the athletic ability that accompanies his wide girth.
The result has surfaced in a key area: confidence, and the amount of it the Giants are showing towards him with how often they’re trying to put a football in his hands. Bennett has been targeted 15 times through two games, 10 of which came in Week 2. To put that volume of looks in perspective, Rob Gronkowski — the Patriots TE who will be further condemned by those who hate fun after more evidence of his porn star posing hobby surfaced today — also has 15 targets thus far. Meanwhile, Tony Gonzalez has 126 receiving yards including his 70 that came Monday night and he’s been targeted 15 times, while Vernon Davis has been targeted 12 times.
So in terms of his utilization, Bennett is keeping pace with the league’s elite at his position, and more importantly, some of the highest tight end point producers early in the season. In Yahoo leagues Gronkowski, Davis, and Gonzalez are all in the top five in fantasy points among tight ends, with Davis and his 30 points leading. Who rounds out the top five? Yep, it’s Bennett, with his 23 points only two behind Gronk.
All of that speaks to the reasons for long-term confidence in the 25-year-old, and while his ownership has spiked significantly over the past week, there’s still a reasonable chance that a hurting Aaron Hernandez owner can find Bennett floating adrift as a fake free agent since he’s available in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues, and 40 percent of ESPN leagues. And if those ownership numbers don’t rise quickly in the remaining hours prior to tonight’s game, I’m just going to give up and start a book chronicling the life and times of Tim Kardashian.
The Giants are riddled with key offensive injuries tonight, starting in the backfield with Ahmad Bradshaw’s absence, and then moving to the wide receivers with Hakeem Nicks and Domenick Hixon out. Aside from the Giants’ bitter hatred of the Thursday Night Football short week, those injuries will lead to another inevitable conclusion. More Bennett, because without Nicks to attract attention away from Victor Cruz it’s likely that the Panthers will focus on the Giants’ remaining deep threat and aim to shut him down. That could and should create more areas in the middle of the field for Bennett to thrive through intermediate routes.
Then there’s also the Panthers’ tight end weakness, especially against the elite tight ends, a group that Bennett has joined at least temporarily in terms of his fantasy production. Dating back to the end of last season, Carolina has given up 264 yards to TEs over its last four games.
Ride Bennett, Hernandez owners, or anyone who’s in the grip of early desperation. Or better yet, anyone who enjoys receiving yards, touchdowns, and winning.