The Cincinnati Bengals chose running back Giovani Bernard with their second-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, and for good reasons. Current starter BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been anything but consistent. Green-Ellis logged his first 100-yard game in the 10th game of the season last year, and lacks the big play ability that most teams now have with their running backs. He also isn’t much of a threat as a receiver out of the backfield having only 22 receptions last year, which was a career high for Green-Ellis.
These facets of the game in which Green-Ellis struggles are the exact areas where Bernard thrives. Bernard ran a respectable 4.53 40-yard dash at the combine, but that doesn’t do him justice as his in-game speed appears much faster. A prime example of this would be David Wilson, who ran a 4.5 40-yard dash, but in game appears as if he ran a sub-4.4. Bernard is also extremely talented as a receiver. His 47 receptions last season were third on North Carolina and has already been getting much praise for his receiving ability from Bengals Running Backs coach Hue Jackson, who stated that Bernard could be lining up as a receiver at points this season because of his superb hands, giving him value in PPR formatted leagues.
In deeper fantasy leagues, Bernard could be a great pick to play the FLEX position or even a fill in for one of your Running Backs for a bye week or injury. While he may not be the starter as of now, he certainly will be getting touches as he is the home run hitter the Bengals have been waiting for in the backfield (5.9 yards per carry in college). If you can grab him in the mid-to-late rounds of your draft, I suggest you do so because everyone knows finding running backs after the first few rounds is not an easy task.
His average draft position has him going in the mid-seventh round, but I have found that he has been falling even further than that in recent mock drafts I have been doing. Don’t be afraid to draft Bernard just because he is a back up; his upside and ability could have him getting around 10-15 touches a game, which is just what you need from an effective FLEX or bench player.
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Mike Block is a featured Fantasy Sports columnist for Rant Sports