Toby Gerhart Is Officially a Fantasy Bust with Emergence of Denard Robinson

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIOctober 20, 2014

Sep 28, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart (21) on the sideline during the third quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart was paraded as a fantasy sleeper before the 2014 NFL season commenced. Injuries and overall ineffectiveness have rendered him a disappointment in his first career opportunity to be a feature back.

Denard Robinson capitalized on the wide-open backfield situation in Jacksonville this last Sunday, running for 127 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries in the Jags' 24-6 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler highlighted a notable statistic, which should have fantasy owners scrambling for Robinson on the waiver wire after Week 7:

A former college quarterback at Michigan, Robinson has been labeled as a wide receiver, offensive weapon and potential emergency QB in his young NFL career.

Now Robinson appears to have found a home as a ball-carrier, where his unique vision and explosive playmaking ability that made him such a force in Ann Arbor is beginning to translate to the professional level.

Coach Gus Bradley hinted Monday that Robinson could be the team's top running back in the weeks to come, though he did hold out some hope for the man Robinson replaced.

"Yeah, I think so," said Bradley, per The Florida Times-Union's Vito Stellino. "We'll look at the film. He did a good job and we hope to get Toby back."

Gerhart, who was inactive with a foot injury in Week 7 (h/t ClevelandBrowns.com's Kevin Jones), was supposed to be atop the depth chart to stay, with a slew of unproven ball-carriers behind him. The former Minnesota Viking backed up Adrian Peterson, fared well when called upon and even proved his worth as a pass-catcher with 20 or more receptions in his first three years.

A meager 2.6 yards per carry on 48 rushing attempts in 2014, despite a big frame and powerful running style, casts serious doubt about Gerhart's playing time moving forward. From a fantasy standpoint, he is almost certain to languish on the waiver wire for the remainder of this year at least.

Seventh-round rookie Storm Johnson has just 64 yards on 20 carries, so Robinson seems to be a safe bet to at least get his second straight start in Week 8. That comes against the tougher 10th-ranked run defense of the Miami Dolphins.

Even with the Jags' apparent offensive line issues, though, Robinson found space time and again versus Cleveland. If young Jacksonville signal-caller Blake Bortles can continue his promising progress, it will only open up more lanes for Robinson, who doesn't need much of a crease as it is to rip off a big play.

The longest run of Gerhart's season is 13 yards. To put that in a bit of perspective, Robinson's long gain on Sunday was 20, so he was producing at a consistent rate just about every time he touched the ball. That's bad news for Gerhart and his hopes to reintegrate himself as a factor in the Jags offense.

There is a small chance for Gerhart, thanks to his receiving ability and bigger frame that would come in handy in pass protection and obvious passing situations on third down.

But if he can't get healthy and start producing in a swift manner, the job is Robinson's. Any already glimmering hopes of Gerhart redeeming a promising pre-2014 fantasy outlook will be dashed in that plausible scenario, rendered so by Robinson's injection of life into Jacksonville's ground attack.

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