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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
Saints place P.J. Williams on IR
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:45 pm ET) The Saints placed cornerback P.J. Williams on injured reserve, reports NFL.com. Williams will miss the rest of the season after tearing his hamstring. He was a third-round pick in 2015.

Seahawks RB Robert Turbin sidelined with sprained ankle
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:56 pm ET) Seahawks backup running back Robert Turbin sustained an ankle injury Saturday against the Chargers, which might keep him out for a while, coach Pete Carroll revealed Tuesday. 

“Robert’s got a sprained ankle,” Carroll said, per SeattlePI.com. “It’s a significant ankle sprain. We have to see what that means. He feels pretty good about it, but it definitely showed up on the MRI and all that.”


Bears place running back Senorise Perry on IR
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:24 pm ET) The Bears placed running back Senorise Perry on injured reserve Tuesday to reach the 75-man roster limit. He is in his second season out of Louisville.

RG3 meeting with independent neurologist later in the week
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:19 pm ET) Redskins backup quarterback Robert Griffin III will be evaluated later in the week by an independent neurologist to check for lingering concussion symptoms, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Tuesday. He is expected to be re-tested Thursday or Friday.

Report: Jaguars' Julius Thomas to undergo surgery, miss a month
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:15 pm ET) After undergoing a second opinion Tuesday, Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas will have surgery on his broken index finger Wednesday, a source told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. 

The surgery could sideline Thomas for up to a month. He is in his first season with the Jaguars.


Chiefs place LB Justin March on IR, Tyler Bray on NFI list
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:55 pm ET) The Chiefs placed linebacker Justin March (knee) on injured reserve and quarterback Tyler Bray on the non-football injury list Tuesday.

Giants place OL Will Beatty on PUP list, two others on IR
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:52 pm ET) The Giants placed offensive lineman Will Beatty (pectoral) on the PUP list Tuesday, which means he will miss at the least the first six weeks of the 2015 season.

The Giants also placed Josh Gordy (hip) and Bennett Jackson (knee) on injured reserve, while waived-injured Brandon Mosley (back) and Akeem Hunt (hamstring).


Packers WR Randall Cobb: 'I don't plan on missing a game'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:44 pm ET) Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb missed the final training camp practice Tuesday due to his sprained right shoulder. However, Cobb feels his time away from the field will be minimal, per PackersNews.com.

“I don’t plan on missing a game,” Cobb said. "I'm doing everything in my power to get back before then, but we still don't know severity. We've still got to get a lot of the swelling out. It definitely is a lot better then what we all thought it was in the beginning."


Cowboys get roster down to 75 players
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:32 pm ET) The Cowboys pared down their roster to 75 players on Tuesday by releasing four and giving injury designations to six, according to the team's official website.

The Cowboys waived linebacker Jonathan Brown, wide receivers Antwan Goodley and David Porter and and tight end Brandon Barden. They also waived/injured defensive end Kenneth Boatright, running back Michael Hill and offensive tackle R.J. Dill.

Dallas also placed Orlando Scandrick on IR, Chaz Green on the PUP list and Mark Nzeocha on the NFI list.


Chiefs' Reid says TE Travis Kelce has 'slightly sprained ankle'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:27 pm ET) Chiefs coach Andy Reid delivered some good news Tuesday regarding the status of tight end Travis Kelce, who left practice Monday due to an injury.

"Travis has a slightly sprained ankle,” Reid said, per the team's official website. “It's not a high ankle sprain. There's a chance if we were playing a regular season game, he'd have a pretty good shot of playing.

“It looks like he got his foot caught in the grass. He just tweaked his ankle a little bit. I think he’s lucky the grass gave way a little bit. That’s what happened.”

The Chiefs open the season Sept. 13 against the Texans, which gives Kelce a little less than two weeks to get ready for the start of the 2015 campaign.

Kelce had a breakout season in 2014, totaling 67 catches for 862 yards and five touchdowns. He is expected to play a key role again in the Chiefs' passing game this season.


 
 
 
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