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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
Jaguars RB Storm Johnson says he'll return next week
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:32 pm ET) After being placed on the Non-Football Injury list on Wednesday, Jaguars running back Storm Johnson said he expects to return to the field next week, reports Jacksonville.com.

Johnson and coached Gus Bradley declined to discuss the nature of Johnson's injury, but Bradley said he is considered day to day.

"I'd rather talk about it when I get back on the field," Johnson said.


49ers place Michael Wilhoite on injury list
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:26 pm ET) 49ers linebacker Michael Wilhoite was placed on the Non-Football Injury list on Friday, the team announced. Wilhoite is dealing with a muscle strain in his leg.

Jets DE Sheldon Richardson won't be charged with child endangerment
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:06 pm ET) After reviewing the evidence, the St. Charles County Prosecutor's Office won't charge Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson with child endangerment, reports the New York Post.

"Our role is to take a look at the evidence that we know we have and say, given that, are we going to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed this felony?" Tim Lohmar said, the prosecuting attorney in the case told. "The plain and simple answer to you is when we had all the facts in front of us, we thought we're going to have a tough time proving this beyond a reasonable doubt."

Richardson was facing the child endangerment charge after allegedly driving as high as 143 miles per hour in mid-July with a 12-year-old in the back seat. He will face charges of resisting arrest and traffic violations, which are misdemeanors.


Lions unsure when RB Joique Bell will return
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:51 pm ET) Although Lions coach Jim Caldwell said running back Joique Bell is making progress from his knee and Achilles surgeries, there is no timetable for his return, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Bell is on the Physically Unable to Perform List after missing all of the team's offseason practices due to the surgeries.


Broncos DL Malik Jackson suffers calf injury
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:35 pm ET) Broncos defensive lineman Malik Jackson sustained a strained calf during Friday's training camp practice, reports 9News.com.

The injury forced Jackson to miss most of Friday's practice and there is no word on if the injury will keep Jackson sidelined.


Raiders make four roster moves Friday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:23 pm ET) The Raiders assigned wide receiver Rod Streater and running back Trent Richardson to the Non-Football Injury list on Friday, the team announced.

Moreover, the team placed defensive tackle Stacy McGee and wide receiver Trindon Holliday on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform List.


Bears CB Kyle Fuller dealing with ankle injury
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:17 pm ET) Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller was a limited participant in Friday's practice after tweaking his ankle, reports ESPNChicago.com. Fuller had four interceptions and 64 tackles in 16 games last season.

Bucs place Akeem Spence on PUP; Louis Murphy on injury list
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:54 pm ET) The Buccaneers placed defensive tackle Akeem Spence on the Physically Unable to Perform list on Friday, reports the Tampa Tribune. Spence is dealing with a back issue.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Louis Murphy was placed on the Active/Non-Football Injury list. Murphy recently sustained an ankle injury.


Redskins sign LB Junior Galette
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:20 pm ET) The Redskins reached a one-year deal with linebacker Junior Galette on Friday, the team announced.

Galette was released by the Saints earlier this week following his January arrest for domestic violence. He totaled 45 tackles and 10 sacks in 16 games last season.

Coach Jay Gruden said Galette will be able to participate in Saturday's practice


Bucs QB Jameis Winston earns starting role
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:08 pm ET) As expected, Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith named Jameis Winston his starting quarterback Friday, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

Winston was competing with quarterback Mike Glennon for the starting role. Winston was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft and will receive the majority of the first-team repetitions during training camp.

"We brought him in here to be our quarterback," Smith said, per NFL.com.


 
 
 
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