I know on paper you might look at Giovani Bernard of the Cincinnati Bengals going up against the vaunted defense of the Chicago Bears and think to yourself, “No way am I starting an undersized rookie against the monsters of the midway!” A look at the Bengals depth chart says BenJarvus Green-Ellis is listed as the starter, as well.
Some people could look at that, click away and leave Bernard sitting on their bench. Maybe you’d starting some mid-talent wide receiver in your flex position, with all the confidence in the world. Maybe you’ve got a Miles Austin or a flashy Darrius Heyward-Bey stashed on the bench that eases your troubled mind.
If you’re the kind of guy who likes to play it safe, sure you could pull the trigger and no one in your league is going to point their finger and laugh when Austin appears in as your Flex starter.
I’m gambling man. I admit I’m high on the Bear’s defense, I even wrote an article talking about how they could be ever better this year than they were last year. Even with all that considered, I’m still starting Bernard this week in all my leagues.
This guy is more NFL ready that people give him credit for. A lot of young backs who are a little undersized come into the league and they spend their first year playing timid when asked to run between the tackles. People who owned LeSean McCoy his rookie year watched this frustration as he would dance in front of a wide open hole before bouncing it outside.
When you watch Bernard play, you see the Bengal offensive line rip a hole in opposing defensive lines and Bernard explodes through it without hesitation. Wrapping both hands around the rock, he slips through like they greased his jersey with lard. The guy isn’t just fast to the hole and lightning quick flat out, he’s also slippery. In fact, of all the rookie running backs in this past NFL Draft, he had the best yards after contact average at 3.19 yards.
Sure, the Bears defense is something to be feared. But up the middle, Jon Bostic is a rookie himself who’s shown more promise dropping back or popping up than he has at plugging the hole. At the same time, A.J. Green is going to be taking the Bears defensive backs on a ride deep down field attracting double and triple coverage. The two pass-catching tight ends, Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham, will also be eating up safeties.
There is a yellow brick road right through the middle of the Bears defense to the second level, and I think Green-Ellis is to slow to hole to exploit it.
I’m starting Bernard this week. If you’re a gambling man like I am, looking to put a little risk out there for the chance at high reward, you should to!
Eric Beuning is a Fantasy Football writer for RantSports.com.