Giovani Bernard Fantasy 2013
Even if he was a second round pick, Giovani Bernard was the first RB off the board in the NFL Draft and that makes him one of the most interesting fantasy football rookie prospects. Cincinnati looks like a good fit for Bernard. The Bengals needed a change of pace RB to compliment BenJarvus Green-Ellis and seem to have found one with Bernard.
Bernard had a short, but impressive college football career with North Carolina. Last season Bernard averaged nearly 200 all-purpose yards per games. He got it done in the running, receiving and return games. Bernard rushed for a career-high 262 yards on 23 carries vs. Virginia Tech.
Green-Ellis is the reason some are shy about taking Bernard too high in a fantasy draft. BJGE is a downhill rusher that fits the Bengals system. The “Lawfirm” rushed 278 times for 1.094 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2012. The Bengals offense is full of weapons this year. AJ Green has two outstanding seasons under his belt and is now established as an elite WR. Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert might turn out to be the best TE duo located outside of New England. Andrew Hawkins is a good slot receiver who made big plays last season. Mohamed Sanu did not get much playing time last season, but at one point scored 4 touchdowns in three games. Expect Sanu to be the Bengles’ WR2 this season.
Andy Dalton clearly has some talent around him. He passed for 3,669 yards with 16 interceptions and 27 touchdowns last season. Dalton is not considered an elite QB, but he’s set-up to have a great 2013.
With an offense that can put up points and a defense that can stuff opponents, the Bengals will get some big leads this season. When they do, expect Bernard to come in and put up some good numbers.
Will Bernard take the starting job from BJGE? It’s possible, but not likely. He is only 21-years-old and new to the NFL. At best maybe you can expect Bernard to split carries with BJGE. When it comes to goal-line carries, Bernard will not see many. If your expecting him to be the next Doug Martin, you’ll probably be disappointed. If he must be compared to one of last year’s rookies, David Wilson is a better comparison, but Bernard should be much more involved in the passing game. Bernard is expected to start the season as the third down RB.
Projection: If your in a small league (8-10 teams) Bernard could be your top bench RB, or a flex pick. If your in a deeper league, Bernard could be a legit flex pick and maybe even a RB2 when all is said and done. Handcuffing him to BJGE is not very practical in smaller re-draft leagues. They each are in the same draft range and in general the Bengals are more likely to pass for their touchdowns. Keep in mind that BJGE, a workhorse RB, only scored 6 touchdowns last season. If your doing a dynasty start-up draft he could be a RB2, same for a deep keeper league.
Bottom Line: A few years from now, Bernard could be one of the top backs in the NFL. This season, he might be closer to top 30.
With over five years of fantasy football experience Darren has won a high percentage of leagues and is an expert on IDP. When not setting a line-up, he works as a freelance writer for The Miami Herald.