Breakout or Bust: Will Toby Gerhart Thrive As A Starter In Jacksonville?

by Ray Kuhn

Player: Toby Gerhart, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

2011 Stat Line: 109 carries, 531 yards, 4.9 ypc, 1 TD; 23 receptions, 190 yards, 8.3 ypc, 3 TD
2012 Stat Line: 50 carries, 169 yards, 3.4 ypc, 1 TD; 20 receptions, 155 yards, 7.8 ypc
2013 Stat Line: 36 carries, 293 yards, 7.9 ypc, 2 TD; 13 receptions, 98 yards, 6.8 ypc

Fantasy Pros Consensus Ranking: 63rd overall, 25th among running backs

As Gerhart enters his fifth season in the NFL, and first with Jacksonville after signing a four year contract in the off-season, it feels like he has always appeared more relevant than his performance actually suggests he should have been. For a player who consistent playing time was never truly available, Gerhart showed up on his fair share of draft boards and fantasy benches.

The reason why was simple. Gerhart was the “handcuff” to the best running back in football, Adrian Peterson. In the limited opportunities he did get, Gerhart showed enough skill and potential to be considered a viable replacement option should Peterson miss any time. The Jaguars also saw enough in the brief sample sizes that they felt he was worth of a $10.5 million contract and the starting running back job heading into 2014.

When we evaluate running backs there are two things that matter most; opportunity and talent. We know for sure that Gerhart now has the opportunity, and in flashes he has shown talent, so that is the start to a recipe for success. It is not that simple, however. Aside from a few starts in 2011, he hasn’t gotten a chance to truly show what we can do. That is changing and the Jaguars appear to be fully committed to giving him a chance to an every down back and touch the ball at least 300 times.

So how should you value him for the upcoming season?

Determining the right value for Gerhart really is a balancing act. We have to account for his new role, but also take into account that we have never seen what he can do when actually given a chance. The fact that Jacksonville’s offense is not too strong has to play a role as defenses will be able to game plan around him. If the Jaguars find themselves trailing once again, as they did so often last season, the running game gets abandoned.

I am reasonably confident in Gerhart’s abilities, and I do think he will finish the season as an RB2, but I would not draft him as such without another viable option. As much as the Jaguars are also confident in him as a receiver, his value will be reduced in PPR formats as I am skeptical that he will catch more than 40 passes.

The one area where I think he will have success is in the red zone, but the issue will be lack of opportunities. While other running backs will have more upside, Gerhart will be a dependable option for whom 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns are very possible.

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One comment

  1. Husky8585 says:

    You covered it pretty well. It’s surprising to see so many other running backs are going well ahead of Gerhart in auctions and in adp’s despite the fact that Gerhart will be a rare 3 down back. Running backs like Martin (will lose passing down work to Sims), Ellington (not the goal line running back) are going rounds ahead. Even if the Jaguars are bad and trail by double digits in 4th quarters of games, Gerhart should still be fine because he’s the passing down back. Like the author said, Gerhart is an RB2 in both standard and ppr formats. Don’t draft him as an RB3/4 as so many others will mistakenly do.

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