Kelvin Benjamin suffered what appeared to be a left knee injury during Wednesday's joint practice with the Miami Dolphins. The Panthers receiver went down when he tried to make a cut against Miami defensive back Don Jones on a play in which there was no contact. He stayed on the ground for several minutes before being carted off. Following practice, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Benjamin suffered a sprained knee and will undergo an MRI.
An ACL injury is possible here, but the on-the-field test often indicates a tear, so there is hope that this is just a typical sprain. Technically, a torn ACL is considered a "knee sprain," though the recovery time is obviously far longer than the run of the mill knee sprain. When our injury expert Russell Manalastas saw the footage, he said, "Oh man, that doesn't look good at all. Has the makings of an ACL (tear) for sure with his body going one way and his leg going the other when trying to plant. Most guys don't just collapse and grab their knee if they tweak something, not encouraging."
All we can do is wait for the results of the MRI. For now, there's enough concern here that we would avoid Benjamin in fantasy drafts until the point in the draft when we're willing to burn the pick if things go the wrong way. This depends on the particular owner, but typically a player of Benjamin's upside is worth the risk in the 10th-12th rounds. If Benjamin misses extended time, Devin Funchess would get a major bump, but he tweaked his hamstring late in practice. If it is an ACL tear for Benjamin, look for Funchess's ADP to head towards the 8th/9th round. Benjamin went in the 7th/8th round last season. The diminutive speedster Philly Brown is also a name to remember in the final rounds. He posted seven catches for 66 yards on nine targets against the Steelers in Week 3, while playing 83 percent of the snaps. He also caught touchdown passes in back-to-back games later in the year.