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2014 Draft Prep: Toby Gerhart will grind his way to success

Senior Fantasy Writer
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If you're a Toby Gerhart fan, the start of training camp and preseason action has been positive. So what if Gerhart missed practice time with a strained hip flexor. It's OK that he was sluggish in his first preseason action against the Bears.

Those negatives will only help lower his Fantasy value. And that's a good thing.

Gerhart is getting the first starting opportunity of his career with the Jaguars after spending the past four seasons playing behind Adrian Peterson in Minnesota. And we expect Gerhart to shine. The prediction here is Gerhart will grind his way to Fantasy success.

After the second week of preseason action, Gerhart's Average Draft Position was No. 41 overall, which is Round 4 in a 12-team league. He was the No. 18 running back off the board. We only hope he slips a little further because he's someone to covet on Draft Day.

Look, we have no idea how Gerhart is going to do in this role. We only have a small sample size of his work when he's had double digits in carries, which is nine times going back to his rookie year in 2010. He's done well with that workload, producing double digits in Fantasy points in six of those outings, so there's a start.

Coach Gus Bradley has said Gerhart is looking at 15-18 touches a game, but we're expecting a heavier workload. It's difficult to imagine Jordan Todman, Storm Johnson or Denard Robinson taking Gerhart off the field for significant stretches.

He showed he could be a capable receiver in limited action behind Peterson, averaging 19 catches a year with the Vikings, including three seasons of at least 20 grabs prior to 2013. And he should prove to be a tough rusher between the tackles.

My colleague, Larry Hartstein, wrote a blog in May comparing Gerhart's situation to Michael Turner when he left San Diego and LaDainian Tomlinson's shadow to be the starter in Atlanta in 2008. There are a lot of similarities.

Turner spent four seasons behind Tomlinson, who was the premier rusher of his era, just like Gerhart and Peterson. Both averaged fewer than 70 carries a season as backups. Both averaged more than 4.7 yards per carry in that role.

Jacksonville general manager Dave Caldwell worked in Atlanta's front office when the team signed Turner to be their workhorse. We expect he envisions Gerhart having a similar impact, especially leaning on him to cover up for what should be an inconsistent passing game led by either Chad Henne or rookie Blake Bortles.

You should keep in mind that Bradley is a Pete Carroll disciple and the Seahawks were second in rushing attempts in 2013 and first in 2012 with more than 31 carries a game on average each year. Marshawn Lynch has had more than 300 carries each of the past two seasons.

Last year, the Jaguars leaned on Maurice Jones-Drew for 234 carries, which was No. 14 in attempts, and he finished as the No. 20 Fantasy running back in standard leagues. He also had 43 catches. Gerhart should get more work and he'll finish with more production.

You're going to like Gerhart if you're looking for a No. 2 running back with upside in Round 4, and he should post consistent production. He's not going to post dominant stats like Jamaal Charles or LeSean McCoy, but his body of work will look good by the end of the season.

If the Jaguars do what's expected and lean on Gerhart, he'll finish as a top-20 Fantasy running back, with the chance to creep into the top 15. And the later he goes on Draft Day, the better off you'll be.

So prior to your draft, tell your league mates Gerhart is struggling. That he was hurt in training camp. That he won't get the job done as the starter.

Then, when he lands on your team, boast that you got a difference-maker. Gerhart is set up for a big year as the new lead running back for the Jaguars.

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Player News
Bills announce Week 12 inactives
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:40 pm ET) The Bills declared fullback Frank Summers (neck), tight end MarQueis Gray, linebacker Randell Johnson, offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, wideout Marquise Goodwin (ankle) and defensive ends Jarius Wynn (knee) and Bryan Johnson inactive for Monday's game against the Jets.

Bills RB Fred Jackson active for game against Jets
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:33 pm ET) Bills running back Fred Jackson, who was questionable with a groin injury, is active for the game against the Jets in Detroit. Jackson sat out Week 11 and figures to share backfield duties Monday night with Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon.

Lions RB Reggie Bush listed as limited
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:27 pm ET) Lions running back Reggie Bush, who's missed four of the past six games with an ankle injury, would have been limited had the team practiced Monday. Bush's status remains up in the air for Thursday's game against the Bears.

Chiefs S Eric Berry placed on NFI list with possible lymphoma
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:14 pm ET) Chiefs safety Eric Berry has been placed in the non-football injury list with a mass on the right side of his chest, team trainer Rick Burkholder told reporters on Monday. Burkholder told reporters Berry did not experience discomfort until the Oakland game on Thursday.

The team believes what Berry has right now is lymphoma. He is expected to go to Emory University hospital for further evaluation. According to coach Andy Reid, Berry addressed his teammates before leaving the team.

"Right now, he needs to be a beast. He'll attack this," coach Andy Reid said.

Berry released the following statement: "I am truly thankful for all of the support from family, friends, coaches, teammates and the entire Chiefs kingdom. At first I was in shock with the diagnosis on Saturday and did not even want to miss a game, but I understand that right now I have to concentrate on a new opponent. I have great confidence in the doctors and the plan they are going to put in place for me to win this fight. I believe that I am in God’s hands and I have great peace in that. I know my coaches and teammates will hold things down here the rest of the season and until I am back running out of the tunnel at Arrowhead. I am so thankful and appreciative of being a part of this franchise and playing in front of the best fans in the NFL. I will be back!"


Breakthrough short-lived for Cecil Shorts
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4:52 pm ET) One week after catching five passes for 119 yards, Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts caught one for 6 Week 12 at Indianapolis. It was kind of like how he caught three passes for 12 yards one week after catching 10 for 103 Week 6 at Tennessee.

To put it another way, Shorts has gone for more than 100 yards in two games this season. He's gone for less than 50 in the other six.

Playing for the Jaguars, he's obviously not much of a scoring threat, having been held out of the end zone since scoring in his season debut back in Week 3. He's the most targeted player on the Jaguars, at least among those who haven't suffered a season-ending injury (apologies to Allen Robinson), but working with a rookie quarterback on the league's lowest-scoring offense, that doesn't count for much.

Given the limitations of his supporting cast, Shorts' big games aren't especially big, and they don't happen often enough for you to bother with him in standard Fantasy leagues.


Titans RBs Bishop Sankey, Dexter McCluster dealing with injuries
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4:45 pm ET) Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said Monday running back Bishop Sankey did not suffer a concussion on Sunday. However, he's dealing with a stinger. Whisenhunt also revealed running back Dexter McCluster is going through the league-mandated concussion protocol, the Tennessean reports.

Tennessee will face Houston in Week 13.


Titans' Whisenhunt unsure how long Wimbley will be out with injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:42 pm ET) Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said Monday linebacker Kamerion Wimbley suffered a pulled hamstring Week 12 against the Eagles. However, Whisenhunt is unsure how long Wimbley will be sidelined.

No reason for concern over Reggie Wayne
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4:42 pm ET) Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne may have caught only three passes for 10 yards Week 12 against Jacksonville, but he led the team with nine targets. No one else, including T.Y. Hilton, had more than five.

That's three straight games for Wayne with at least nine targets and seven straight with at least eight. The yardage hasn't always been there for him -- this is his third game with less than 50 during that seven-game stretch -- but he's getting the looks from what has become one of the league's most reliable quarterbacks in Andrew Luck. In fact, part of the reason for Wayne's struggles in Week 12 was an uncharacteristically shaky performance for Luck, who threw for less than 200 yards for just the second time this season.

Particularly because he has just two touchdown grabs this season, Wayne is hardly a must-start Fantasy option, but he remains a fine third wide receiver or flex play despite this poor showing.


Titans' Whisenhunt: No broken ankle for Taylor Lewan
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:38 pm ET) Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt confirmed Monday rookie tackle Taylor Lewan did not suffer a broken ankle Sunday against the Eagles. 

Lewan, who has started the last six games, suffered a right ankle injury in the fourth quarter Week 12. He had to be helped off the field before being carted to the locker room.


Falcons S William Moore will return to practice this week
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4:33 pm ET) Falcons coach Mike Smith told reporters safety William Moore will return to full contact practice this week, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Moore, who is on IR with a shoulder injury, is eligible to return Week 12 against Arizona.

"We will see how he makes it through the week," Smith said. "He will be eligible to return to game activity. If everything goes well, we sure will welcome him back with open arms because he's a very good player for us."


 
 
 
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