Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
I can no longer champion the case that Jacksonville Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart, whose average draft position (ADP) has soared from the early fifth round to the late third round in one month, is undervalued.
It's not that I still don't like Gerhart, who is ticketed for 300 touches, it's just that he's now properly valued at pick 36.1 (fantasyfootballcalculator.com 12-team mocks).
It's time to throw my support behind some of the other running backs in the NFL who are getting less respect than they deserve in fantasy drafts.
Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams (24.9 ADP) - Fantasy owners have reacted to Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's declaration that the team is holding a competition for the starting running back by moving Stacy down. He's now going with the first pick in the third round on average, 14th among running backs. As Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said, Schottenheimer's claim was coachspeak. Stacy WAS the Rams offense last season after taking over the starting job in Week 5. His numbers -- 249 carries, 969 rushing yards, seven rushing touchdowns, 26 receptions, 141 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown -- in 12 starts extrapolated over a 16 game season come out to 332 carries, 1,292 rushing yards, nine rushing touchdowns, 35 receptions, 188 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown. Even if the Rams take four carries per game away from Stacy he's still going to get 270, a mark just nine players reached last season, plus all the goal-line work.
Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (45.5) - New York general manager Jerry Reese said last week that Jennings is "a bell cow type of a running back" while mentioning the team's concerns over David Wilson's health in the same breath. Even if Wilson is cleared to play, Jennings is going to be the guy getting 15-20 touches per game while Wilson serves as a change-of-pace player. While the Giants rushed for just 3.5 yards per carry, their running backs scored 11 rushing touchdowns despite having to start four different players, including Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis, over the course of the season.
Joique Bell, Detroit Lions (58.4) - Bell and teammate Reggie Bush collectively had 325 fantasy points (151 by Bell) last season and the workload is going to be closer to 50-50 in 2014. However, Bush is being selected 26 picks ahead of Bell. Bell may not be a conventional fantasy RB2 because he won't rush for 1,000 yards, but he produced 1,197 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns on 219 touches last season and could see an additional 25 touches this year.
DEEP LEAGUE SPECIAL
Lance Dunbar, Dallas Cowboys (157.8) - Scott Linehan, the offensive coordinator who coaxed 325 fantasy points out of Bush and Bell last season, is now coaching in Dallas and Dunbar could be this year's version of Bell. Bryan Broaddus of dallascowboys.com reports that the team has "big plans" for Dunbar this season and running backs coach Gary Brown called him a "complete weapon." DeMarco Murray hasn't exactly been the model of durability over his first three seasons in the NFL, so Dunbar may even see a couple of starts. His ADP places him 57th at his position.