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Rashad Jennings' 2015 Fantasy Football Outlook

By Jared Smola 9:29am EDT 4/24/15
Draft Sharks Podcast

Note: This is a free preview of a 2015 Draft Sharks Player Profile. DS Insiders will have access to over 300 of these, along with detailed projections, in June.


Jennings got off to a strong start in his debut season with the Giants. In his first 2 games, he tallied 110 yards and a TD on the ground, plus another 95 yards on 8 catches. Then came a huge 34-176-1 rushing line in Week 3. Jennings was sitting 5th among RBs in non-PPR points and 6th in PPR after that game.

But Week 4 saw him struggle to just 52 total yards on 14 touches. Then Week 5 brought a sprained MCL that cost him the Giants’ next 4 games.

Jennings returned to the lead-back role in Week 11 but struggled on the ground. Over the next 3 games, he took 63 carries for just 202 yards – an ugly 3.2 YPC. Jennings at least salvaged his fantasy value by catching 4, 8 and 3 balls, respectively, in those outings.

But an ankle injury late in Week 13 limited Jennings to just 4 total touches in the next 2 games. He sat out Week 16 and turned in a 13-touch, 54-yard effort in the season finale.

When the dust settled, it was a disappointing season from Jennings. He averaged just 3.8 yards per carry, which ranked 23rd among 32 RBs with 150+ carries last year. Jennings didn’t have a single run longer than 18 yards. Pro Football Focus ranked him a mediocre 30th out of 57 RBs in their run grades.

Jennings was at least productive in the passing game. He hauled in 30 of 41 targets (73.2% catch rate) for 226 yards (7.5 yards per catch) in his 11 games. That’s a 16-game pace of 44 grabs and 329 yards. Both marks would have ranked among the top 14 RBs last year.

On the downside, Jennings was charged by PFF with 5 drops. Only 5 RBs had more. And Jennings’ 14.3% drop rate was 3rd worst among 39 qualifying RBs. He ranked just 45th in PFF’s receiving grades.

It’s impossible to say just how big a role Jennings’ injuries had in his inefficient play. Three of his 5 best fantasy performances came before that Week 5 knee injury. But even in those first 4 games, he only averaged a middling 4.2 yards per carry.

Of course, Jennings’ low per-carry average looks better when compared to Andre Williams. The 4th-rounder finished his rookie season with an anemic 3.3-yard average. He also finished lower than Jennings in PFF’s overall, running and receiving rankings.

But while Jennings was struggling down the stretch last year, Williams was turning in his best performances. He topped 100 rushing yards in 2 of his final 4 games, averaging 4.0 yards per carry during that span. We’ll still bet on Jennings out-carrying Williams in 2015, but that could change if Jennings’ game heads south while Williams’ takes a step forward.

Jennings will also need to contend with the arrival of Shane Vereen, 1 of the league’s top pass-catching RBs. He’s tallied 99 catches, 874 yards and 6 receiving TDs over the past 2 seasons. All 3 of those marks rank among the top 8 RBs, despite Vereen missing 8 games in 2013. Only 2 RBs – Matt Forte and Le’Veon Bell – have averaged more receiving yards per game than Vereen’s 36.4 over the last 2 years.

If nothing else, Vereen figures to take a big bite out of Jennings’ pass-catching role. And that’s were a big chunk of his fantasy production came from last year – 37.4% of his PPR points, to be exact.

The Giants might also have a bigger ball-carrying role planned for Vereen than he saw in New England. He’s yet to top 96 carries in an NFL season but is averaging a solid 4.2 yards per carry. That average has jumped to 4.3 with heavier workloads over the past 2 years. Vereen also averaged 5.1 yards per carry on 414 totes over his final 2 college seasons.

On top of the workload concerns, durability is also a big issue for Jennings. There were the knee and ankle injuries last year. Concussions cost him 1 game in 2013 and 4 in 2012. Jennings also missed 2 games in 2012 with a sprained knee. Another knee injury cost him the entire 2011 campaign. And this is all despite Jennings never reaching 200 total touches in a season. Now 30, he’s unlikely to suddenly become a picture of good health.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line:

Jennings is a good bet to open the season as the Giants’ lead runner and the backfield’s best bet for weekly touches. But Shane Vereen and Andre Williams will make this a committee attack. And the youngsters are capable of pushing Jennings down the totem pole if he’s not more efficient than he was last year. Throw in the durability concerns – Jennings has never played a full 16-game season – and you should consider him no more than a lower-end RB3 or flex.

For more on Jennings and the Giants backfield, check out the DS Quickie below.

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