Rashad Jennings Fantasy 2014
I recently came to the realization that I, and we, need to be giving Rashad Jennings more hype than I have been. That feeling was confirmed when the New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese recently said Jennings can be a “bellcow type of a running back,” essentially saying he has the ability to be the team’s featured running back.
Of the non-rookie running backs with new changes of scenery — Jennings, Chris Johnson, Toby Gerhart, Ben Tate, Maurice Jones-Drew, etc. — Jennings may have the most value in fantasy drafts this summer, though Toby Gerhart and Ben Tate may be getting the most hype.
Rashad Jennings started in just eight games in 2013, but still finished the season as RB22 in standard leagues. Jennings made the most of his opportunity in his first year with the Oakland Raiders, taking over for a perennially-damaged Darren McFadden. Taking advantage of that opportunity shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise to those who saw Jennings play intermittently behind Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville.
Jennings has a respectable career average of 4.3 yards-per-carry (YPC), though that number is somewhat deluding due to a 2.8 YPC 2012 season. Take away his 2012 season and he boasts a career 5.0 YPC average. At 6-foot-1, 234 pounds, Jennings does most of his damage via running with the football. Over the span of his five-year career, Jennings scored a touchdown every 29.7 carries. So let’s say he totals around 210 carries in 2014, that’s about seven touchdowns on the ground alone. And, taking his career YPC into consideration, he’d gain a little over 1,000 rushing yards, though, as I said earlier, I’d expect a little higher total because of that deceivingly bad 2012 season. Therefore, I’ll peg him for at least 1,100 rushing yards. Of course, this is all just speculation based on numbers of previous seasons, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were in the ballpark.
While Jennings does most of his work with his feet, he’s valuable with his hands as well. He tallied 36 catches for 292 yards in 2013 and played a change-of-pace, passing-down role with the Jaguars in previous years. One caution with Jennings, however, is that he may not be used as much in the passing game since he is the Giants’ primary running back. Still, expect similar receiving numbers to those of last season.
Continuing with some of last year’s output, from Weeks 9 to 15, a span of six games, Jennings averaged 18 carries, 89 yards (4.78 YPC), 1 TD; 3.1 catches, 53.6 rec. yards. Coincidentally, Week 9 was the first week Jennings started for the Raiders; and additionally, Jennings did not play in Week 14, therefore there are only six games included.
Granted, Jennings wouldn’t have scored a touchdown every week, on average, so we won’t calculate that into his hypothetical season total. Instead, let’s say he would have scored nine touchdowns, which definitely would have been feasible at that rate. That added to 89 rushing yards and 53.6 receiving yards per game would have been good enough for RB7-9, roughly. No, I don’t think Jennings can maintain those numbers over the course of a 16-game season, but I do think he can do well enough to finish in the top 15 among running backs in standard leagues.[ad id=”Ad1″]
As much as I’m talking up Jennings, something needs to be said of his durability, or lack thereof. In 2010, he battled a shoulder injury and missed three games. He sat out all of the 2011 season on Injured Reserve because of a knee injury. The year after didn’t get much easier for Jennings as he battled with lingering knee issues and missed several games, and was eventually put on Injured Reserve again, following a concussion. Finally, he missed just one game in 2013, as I mentioned, while dealing with a hamstring injury in Week 6 and concussion symptoms in Weeks 14 and 15.
It seems like an extensive injury history, but an offseason of recovery and preparation can do wonders for anyone, especially a professional football player. Plus, last season was extremely encouraging as Jennings showed he can be successful and stable with a full load, even if he has to play somewhat dinged up.
Barring any setback during training camp or in preseason, Jennings will be good to go for the regular season. He’s the Giants’ unquestioned starter and should be primed for his best season yet. Consider him a solid RB2 option, worthy of at least a sixth-round pick in standard leagues.
Check to see our 2014 projections for Rashad Jennings