by Ray Kuhn
Player: Rashad Jennings
Team: Jacksonville Jaguars
Draft Range: 89-ND (All ADP data courtesy of www.mockdraftcentral.com)
Right now those that are taking Jennings are getting a starting running back no earlier than the 8th round in a 12 team league. That is great value based on Jennings skill set, but you must remember that it is unclear how long he will be starter for.
Regardless of what happens with Maurice Jones-Drew, Jennings is the week one starter. The question now is how long will this holdout continue? As Adam Schefter noted on ESPN Tuesday (click here for the article), at this point it seems like the holdout will continue into the regular season. If nothing changes, it is not out of the question for Jones-Drew to miss 2 or 3 games if not more. However, when he comes back he will return to the starting running back role. At least in the beginning Jennings will retain some value, but eventually that will diminish.
Two seasons ago Jennings rushed 84 times for 459 yards and 4 touchdowns and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. The majority those numbers consist of a 74 yard run against the Raiders and a 108 yard performance in a start the last game of the season. Last season Jennings was sidelined with a knee injury that did not require surgery and would have allowed him to return to action if he was not placed on Injured Reserve.
In action with the starters this preseason, Jennings is showing no ill effects from his knee injury as he has rushed 36 times for 175 yards, averaging 4.86 yards per carry. So based on that performance, I would not be concerned by Jennings missing last season due to injury. Since he did not even have surgery, I would not be concerned with how Jennings would hold up in the starting role. My concern is what exactly his role will be around the 5th or 6th week of the season once Jones-Drew returns and finds his footing.
Jennings is a difficult player to draft this season. Obviously if you can get good value on Jones-Drew in the 3rd round and feel comfortable that he will return then it would behoove you to secure Jennings as a handcuff for the early part of the season. The problem though is that once Jones-Drew finds his groove, Jennings loses just about all his value to you and you have burned a decently high pick without continuous value. If you draft Jennings closer to his ADP and got good value on Jones-Drew then it could be a very valuable decision.
The other option with Jennings is to draft him close to his ADP, the same way you would draft another speculative running back, and start him the first few weeks based on matchups or while you evaluate other options. If you don’t over pay for Jennings and only need him the first few weeks, there is value to be had.
Jennings should be starting in fantasy lineups as long as he is starting for the Jaguars. The issue here is not so much forecasting his value and performance, but rather how long Jones-Drew will hold out for. In case he decides to report shortly, you do not want to draft Jennings 5 rounds before he normally should have been drafted for maybe a week or two of production. There is the risk that Jones-Drew’s performance and or health will suffer due to holdout (not something I am overly comfortable forecasting) and Jennings could again have value later in the season.
Jennings value will depend on whether or not you also have Jones-Drew and also on where you draft him. Where do you plan on taking Jennings?
Make sure to check out our 2012 fantasy football rankings: