You're Overlooking Rashad Jennings In Fantasy
By Jake Ciely
I honestly thought I'd have Jennings ranked higher than anyone else would. Turns out, I'm high on Jennings, just not quite drunk on the Kool-Aid. Tipsy, but not drunk. Brad Evans beats me out by two spots, ranking Jennings 13th at running back, whereas I have him 15th. It's only two spots, and there are eight other experts on FantasyPros.com that have Jennings 15th or higher. Yet, Jennings' average rank on the site is 20th and his ADP is 22th for running backs. Too many people, experts included, are underrating Jennings.
Giants GM Jerry Reese just recently called Jennings "a bellcow type of running back." Reese referred to Jennings' ability to run, catch and even block, which would point to Jennings being on the field for all three downs. Depth chart wise, there isn't much concern. David Wilson is still an injury question mark, plus he can't block and has fumbling issues. Oh, and I'm not sure he's out of Tom Coughlin's doghouse due to those fumbles. Rookie Andre Williams has brick hands and is in a system that rarely uses rookies heavily. Lastly, you have Peyton Hillis, and, well, it's Peyton Hillis. Everything points to Jennings touching the ball 250-plus times, and that makes him a rather enticing RB2 pick.
There is more to it than just the opportunity though. Just last season, Jennings' performance points to his having a fairly high ceiling. Football Outsiders had Jennings ranked as the fifth-best running back in DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). DVOA is the football version of WAR (Wins Above Replacement) for you baseball knowledgeable folks. Basically, it tells us how much better the player is than your average option. Jennings doesn't rank as high in DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement), which accounts for game situation and opponent. I say "as high," but I was being a bit coy, as Jennings was still seventh! Only LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray, Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, Marshawn Lynch and Knowshon Moreno ranked higher. Hmm, pretty nice company, huh?
Jennings has also been one of the best rushers after contact. Last year, Jennings ranked third best in yards after contact with at least 150 attempts at 2.80. Chris Ivory (3.01) and Adrian Peterson (2.97) were No. 1 and 2. It wasn't a one-year blip either. Jennings is averaging 2.73 yards after contact for his career. That would regularly rank him among or just outside the Top 10.
Lastly, the Giants have mad obvious efforts to improve their offense. They signed Geoff Schwartz and JD Walton, the latter who will compete with Weston Richburg to start at center. And in reality, the Giants have several options for the best five to start. Richburg could surpass Chris Snee and start at guard, especially since Justin Pugh showed he is a potential Pro Bowler in the making and will stick at tackle. Ben McAdoo also arrives from Green Bay to run the offense. The Giants will have a higher-octane offense, rely heavily on three receiver sets and give Jennings plenty of space and opportunity.
Take advantage of the doubters. Those hesitating because of Jennings' injury history and limited starting opportunities will be kicking themselves when he finishes as a Top 15 RB.