Giovani Bernard's fantasy value in PPR leagues
(Editor’s note: Every day, we’re offering our Crazy Fantasy Stat of the Day, something that catches our eye and helps us learn something for the 2016 season.)
Player develop reputations based on their skills. DeSean Jackson, the thinking goes, might only catch three passes a game, but he could turn that into 160 yards and two scores if it breaks right. Trent Richardson would always get you two yards, no matter if you needed one yard or six.
At a certain point, these just become truisms that we believe in, and whether or not they are accurate becomes somehow unimportant. For example, in his 16 career hundred-yard games, Jackson has averaged 5.8 catches, and has more such games with seven or more catches than he does with four or fewer. Some of these “truisms” are actually true, and some aren’t, and it almost doesn’t matter.
Which brings us to Cincinnati Bengals’ running back Giovani Bernard. Bernard has a reputation as one of the highest-end pass-catching running backs in the league, the yin to power-back Jeremy Hill’s yang in the Cincinnati offense. That reputation is the inspiration for today’s Fantasy Stat of the Day: Since Giovani Bernard’s debut, 18.4 percent of the Bengals’ passing targets have gone to running backs, below the average of 19.3 percent across the rest of the league.
Bernard is a pass-catching running back, to be sure, but in three seasons, he’s never finished better than 10th among running backs in targets per game or had 70 targets in a season. There have been 19 running back seasons with 70 targets in the last three years, but he’s maxed out at 67. In 2014, when 23.8 percent of Cincinnati passes went to running backs and the team’s wide receiver and tight ends were dotted with injuries, Bernard had only 55 targets.
There are some running backs who are prime options for PPR fantasy football leagues over standard. In 2015, Danny Woodhead, Theo Riddick, Duke Johnson, Shane Vereen, Darren Sproles and Charles Sims all gained more yards on receptions than on the ground, and all had more receptions than Bernard. Bernard, meanwhile, had 472 receiving yards last year on 49 receptions — and 730 yards on the ground. He scored two rushing touchdowns in 2015, zero receiving, and 12 of his 17 career scores have been rushing.
[Where should you take the Cincinnati running backs in standard leagues? What about PPR? Check our new fantasy draft tool and see.]
Bernard is currently the 27th-ranked running back in our consensus staff rankings for standard leagues, 24th in PPR. That three-spot jump pales in comparison to the jumps of guys like Woodhead and Johnson. Bernard is a perfectly fine running back. But he isn’t the PPR monster some make him out to be.