After spending his first four NFL seasons in the immense shadow of Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart will get a starting opportunity after signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason. Reports and speculation about his workload this season have varied through the summer, but it’s safe to say Gerhart will get all the carries he can handle if he stays healthy.
Over the nine double-digit carry games Gerhart has had in his career, he has averaged 4.7 yards per carry and 89 total yards per game on just under 19 touches per game (18.7) in those contests. Projecting those numbers out over a 16-game slate, Gerhart would have 263 carries for 1,239 yards and five touchdowns with 36 receptions for 185 yards and two more touchdowns. Those carry and yardage totals would have been in the top-10 of the league in 2013.
Gerhart’s age (27) would normally be a bit of a concern for fantasy owners entering this season, but of course he has not been used as extensively as a lot of running backs are by that age. With just 86 carries and 119 touches over the last two seasons, Gerhart took a big back seat to Peterson and was frankly under-utilized by the Minnesota Vikings.
Jaguars’ offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch hinted at a committee backfield with Gerhart as the “lead dog” earlier this month, but I don’t see the combination of Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson and Storm Johnson diminishing Gerhart’s workload very much. The likelihood of a substantial workload is the driving force for Gerhart’s fantasy value this year, and it also helps minimize any downside he might have.
I think 20 touches per game is well within reach for Gerhart this year, with a split looking something like 270-280 carries and 30-40 receptions. I don’t expect more than a handful of rushing touchdowns, and maybe one more as a pass receiver, but I’m definitely buying Gerhart as a solid RB2 with sneaky value in PPR leagues.