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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
Patriots sign LB Deontae Skinner, release WR Jonathan Krause
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:14 pm ET) The Patriots made a pair of roster moves on Friday, leading up to Week 9 against Denver, the Boston Globe reports. The team signed linebacker Deontae Skinner from the practice squad and released rookie wide receiver Jonathan Krause to clear roster space room for Skinner.

Browns TE Jordan Cameron ruled out for Week 9
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:09 pm ET) Browns tight end Jordan Cameron was ruled out for Sunday's game against the Buccaneers in Week 9 with a concussion, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. Cameron suffered his third concussion over a two-year span and could be in danger of missing Week 10 against the Bengals on Thursday, coach Pettine told reporters.

Cameron has only 13 catches for 250 yards and a touchdown this season.


Lewis: Bengals WR A.J. Green looking good for Sunday
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(12:40 pm ET) Marvin Lewis has echoed expectations by stating that Bengals WR A.J. Green will be ready to roll Sunday against Jacksonville if he has no setbacks before then with his ailing toe.

Green continued to work in practice on Friday after missing the last three games.


Absence Friday puts Sunday in doubt for Browns TE Cameron
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:29 pm ET) Browns tight end Jordan Cameron appears destined to miss the Sunday game against Tampa Bay with a concussion that forced him out of his third straight practice Friday.

The concussion is his third in just over two years.

Cameron has been a major disappointment after a breakthrough 2013. He has just 13 catches for 250 yards and one touchdown.


Ravens LB Terrell Suggs, TE Owen Daniels practice Friday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:21 pm ET) Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and tight end Owen Daniels were both back at practice Friday as the team prepares to play at Pittsburgh on Sunday.

The participation of the former in the game was never in doubt, according to the Baltimore Sun. The latter is one week removed from arthroscopic knee surgery, but was reportedly moving well in practice Friday.


Cowboys QB Tony Romo red-lighted again Friday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:16 pm ET) Cowboys prolific quarterback Tony Romo is again absent from practice Friday with a back ailment that has kept him out all week. Each missed session strengthens the possibility that he will not play Sunday against Arizona and that Brandon Weeden will start in his place.

Despite his continued inactivity in practice, however, the Cowboys have indicated that Romo remains a game-time decision.


Buccaneers RB Martin a no-go Friday -- and probably Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:10 pm ET) A sprained left ankle that again has prevented Buccaneers featured back Doug Martin from practicing Friday will probably keep him sidelined Sunday in Cleveland, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Martin shed the walking boot Thursday, but has yet to practice this week. He has also yet to break out this season, rushing for just 166 yards on 58 carries for a 3.1 average.


Bengals RB Bernard out again Friday -- likely Sunday as well
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:02 pm ET) A third straight absence from practice Friday likely means Bengals featured back Giovani Bernard will receive the red light for the Sunday game against the Jaguars, per the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Bernard has been dealing with a hip ailment sustained in Week 8. If he can't play, Jeremy Hill will serve as the primary ballcarrier.


Bengals WR Green practices Friday and likely active Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:53 am ET) Bengals premier wideout A.J. Green is participating in his third straight practice Friday and is expected to return to game action Sunday against Jacksonville.

Green has been sidelined since Week 5 with a toe injury. He would hope to maintain the momentum he had gathered the previous two games combined, when he snagged 11 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown.


Report: Redskins CB Hall suffers second Achilles tear
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:40 am ET) An accident at home has resulted in a second left Achilles tear in five weeks for Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall and will add up to 6-9 months to his recovery time, a source has told the Washington Post.

The veteran sustained the initial injury against Philadelphia in Week 3. He underwent surgery shortly thereafter.

Hall re-signed with Washington in the offseason on a four-year, $17 million contract, including $5.65 million guaranteed.


 
 
 
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