It's like being shot out of a gun. That's the speed and precision that Giovani Bernard brings to the Cincinnati Bengals. In fact, he's simply stupid good. We saw those skills translate to an admirable rookie fantasy campaign in 2013 and he's quickly becoming the talk of 2014.
The question that everyone raises isn't in relation to his talent. We can all see he's going to be a star, sooner or later. However the Bengals continue to bring in other running backs to complement him, much to the chagrin of fantasy owners everywhere.
Throwing Logic Out the Window
I'm not afraid to say that I love Gio in 2014 for fantasy football. I love his speed, his quickness, the way he cuts with the ball. They guy is a playmaker and I want him on my team. He offers that breakaway ability that so many other backs lack and he'll be fun to watch every Sunday.
You don't have to believe in my excitement, but you should take some solace in knowing that the Bengals head can't stop raving about him and his new offensive coordinator is a huge fan as well. In fact, Marvin Lewis said earlier this year that he hoped Bernard would follow the early career trajectory of Ray Rice. We all know how that worked out early on.
Did I mention that Hue Jackson could be a huge bump for Bernard? Because he will be. Hue has always been a fan of the running game going back to his days coaching at Southern Cal. In the NFL his running backs have caught more than 25% of the offensive passes in 3 out of 4 years. And as the head coach of the Raiders they ranked 7th in rushing attempts per game with 29.1. Its clear the offense is changing in Cincinnati, the days of the pass happy Andy Dalton are beginning to die.
Oh and Jacksons backs have averaged just over 24 carries a game in his four years as offensive coordinator. I don't buy that Bernard gets that many carries, but I think he's a sure bet for 15 a game with a few passes thrown his way. With that speed and talent, all he needs to do is break one for a long run.
The Negatives of Gio
By now we all know that the Bengals drafted running back Jeremy Hill. It's understandably not an ideal pick for future owners of Gio. He'll likely take over the goal line responsibilities and share some carries with BJE. Honestly I expected him to be cut following drafting Hill, but Adam Schefter is reporting that the Bengals plan to keep him. Shows how much I truly know.
Word is they want BJE to mentor Hill after having some off the field trouble in college. Thats all good and well for the team but for a fantasy perspective there's no positive way to spin it. It clearly dampers Gio's potential to an extent.
The Value of Giovani Bernard
If you haven't ascertained it already, I love Gio for fantasy in 2014. I see the negatives, but I choose to side with all the positives that exist. Now, I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that he has great upside depending on where you draft him, however this floor is incredibly low. Could he see the sophomore slump? I doubt it, but its certainly possible.
Always remember that as bad as you may want someone, you have to know where they're worth the pick. Don't overpay simply because you're in love. If you have the fantasy numbers to support your love, then go for it. And quite frankly, I think I have everything I need that makes me want to go and get him.
Do you think I'm too high on Gio or do you feel the same way? Share your thoughts below.
For the record, I never actually played football. I have no doubt that I would get crushed running across the middle for a pass, every single time.
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