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Giovanni Bernard – RB – Cincinnati Bengals
2nd Year - 5'9" - 205 lbs
2013 Stats: Rushing: 695 Yards, 5 TD’s / 56 Receptions, 514 Yards, 3 TD’s
Pluses – The loss of offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and promotion of Hue Jackson is quite possibly the best thing that could have happened to Giovanni Bernard’s career. Hue Jackson is a master innovator and loves to utilize the lateral quickness of his running backs especially in the passing game. Bernard is a speedster that is a threat to take it to the house each time he touches the ball. He’s a sneaky route runner who does a great job of catching the ball while in stride and picking up yards after the catch.He's got great vision and awareness to allow blocks to set up before taking on contact. Bernard is going to be used quite a bit in the passing game and that fits his skill sets quite nicely. He's got great hands and is able to make the catch in stride allowing him to rack up big yards after the catch. Everything is setting up qutie nicely for Barnard this season in Cincinnati.
Minuses – Bernard is too small and slender to be a full time NFL RB. Injuries are always going to be a concern for him because of his size and how much he depends on his legs. He made improvements in pass blocking late in his rookie campaign but still has a long way to go. Although the Bengals will develop specialty plays for him he won’t always be on the field. Bernard won’t be used anywhere near the goalline which limits his fantasy value as well. Although he is no more than a splite carry running back, the current state of RB's in fantasy football has never been more thin. Bernard will only be a useful or valuable as your scoring format allows.
Summary – It all comes down to the scoring format of your league for how valuable Giovanni Bernard will be as a fantasy RB in 2014. He’s going to catch a lot of passes in Hue Jackson’s offense and thus could wind up being a top 10 RB in a PPR format. But as with most smaller type RB’s the risk of injury is extremely high. Anytime you have a player who relies on both game situations and health to attain his value there is an awful lot of downside. Bernard is perhaps the poster boy for the upside RB’s of 2014. Hue Jackson's offense will allow him many opportunities to get the ball in space where Bernard is most dangerous. I am not the biggest fan of smallish RB's with high injury risk in fantasy but in the right system (such as Darren Sproles/Sean Payton in New Orleans) this can work out well. Pay close attention in training camp to see how the playing time structure sets up. Bernard won't be used in short yardage or the all important goal line situations but can get there from longer distances if given the room to do so.
Rushing - 13 Games, 189 Rushes, 832 yards, 6 TD’s
Receiving – 13 Games, 61 Receptions, 586 Yards, 3 TD’s