Fantasy RB Sleeper: Rashard Jennings

Nick UvaContributor IMay 28, 2009

First of all, Yes. Rashard Jennings.

Not as one of your top two backs in your fantasy league, but as a late-round, third or fourth RB to add depth to your roster. Taking a chance on a Rookie Running Back that is brought in to compliment the starter has almost always paid huge dividends historically. 

For example: Last year in my 12-person fantasy league I drafted both Chris Johnson from the Titans & Jonathan Stewart from the Panthers in the late rounds.  At the time it may have been viewed as questionable but looking back at the statistics of Frank Gore & Marshawn Lynch, my two starters, proved they were wise risks. 

Isolated example?  Hardly.  This formula has helped forge my team past injury and off-field issues to the championship game four out of seven years with three league crowns to boast of.

That's enough of my personal feelings.  Let's look at a statistical and physical attribute comparison over the past few years when an NFL team drafts a power running back to compliment the finesse starter.

Remember this equation: Small School + Big Running Back = Big Impact

Tim Hightower | No. 34 | RB Arizona Cardinals
Height: 6'0" Weight: 224
College: Richmond
Experience: 2nd season
Brought in to Compliment: Edgerrin James
Rookie Season: 10 TD’s

see Page 2

Brandon Jacobs | No. 27 | RB New York Giants
Height: 6'4" Weight: 264
College: Southern Illinois
Experience: 5th season
Brought in to Compliment: Tiki Barber
Rookie Season: 7 TD’s
Marion Barber | No. 24 | RB Dallas Cowboys
Height: 6'0" Weight: 225
College: Minnesota
Experience: 5th season
Brought in to Compliment: Julius Jones
Rookie Season: 5 TD’s
Matt Forte | No. 22 | RB Chicago Bears
Height: 6'2" Weight: 216  
College: Tulane
Experience: 2nd season
Brought in to Compliment: Drafted to Start.
Rookie Season: 8 TD’s
Rashad Jennings| No. 23 | RB Jacksonville Jaguars
Height: 6'1" Weight: 230 
College: Liberty
Experience: Rookie season
Brought in to Compliment: Maurice Jones-Drew
Rookie Projections: 8 TD’s

The importance of Maurice Jones-Drew to the Jags organization has increased ten-fold with the departure of proven veteran Fred Taylor. In an effort to preserve the health and strength of MoJo, the offense will turn to someone else to handle short yardage situations. 

Eventually this will include goal line situations. Greg Jones is and will remain a Fullback in this league. Alvin Pearman, a scat-back on his second stint with the team is recovering from an injury and will not be asked to handle this role.

This leaves second year Chauncey Washington from USC as another viable option for this role. Washington is a better "turn the corner" runner than Jennings and will be utilized as a backup to MoJo especially in the short-yardage passing game. Jennings is a better North-South runner and thus should win this role during the preseason.

The Jags' offense, with a re-tooled o-line and a new crop of wide receivers, will recommit to the power run game and should find increased success over their 2008 campaign.

One additional interesting fact about Jennings is his pedigree. Although family history doesn’t translate into success, Jennings is the 3rd member from his family to play in the NFL. His brother, Butch, played at VMI and Liberty before moving onto the New York Football Giants as a running back. His other brother, Bryan, was a tight end at Virginia Tech and played with the San Diego Chargers, New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans.