Now for another installment of our Fantasy Stock Watch periodical. This series takes a look at players who either exceeded their anticipated contributions this year, or failed to live up to them and what we can expect come 2014. The biggest concern: you want to draft based on value, rather than paying for stats that will be hard to repeat and/or paying an expectant price for development that may not come.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Oakland Raiders
2013 ADP: 258; RB76
2013 Position Rank: RB21 (61 Overall)
2013 Expectations: Rashad Jennings
As far as expectations go for Jennings, there weren’t many coming into 2013. He was the new man in town, behind Darren McFadden on the Oakland depth chart, and Marcel Reece had just had a nice year taking reps as a fullback. There likely weren’t too many carries to go around for a back coming off a career high 120 touches for a measly 413 yards in Jacksonville.
In all but the deepest of leagues, Jennings wasn’t drafted this year – though perhaps that was foolish, given what we knew about DMC’s propensity for getting hurt.
An average of ESPN/CBS pre-season projections had him tabbed at roughly 95 rushes for 400 yards, two scores, and limited work as a receiver. We had Jennings ranked as consensus RB65.
2013 Results: Rashad Jennings
Jennings started the season on pace with our projections, picking up just nine touches through the season’s first three games while McFadden took the Lion’s share of the work. In week’s 4 and 5 with DMC injured, he averaged 16 touches but was relegated to quiet duty again until Week 8. From Week 8 on, aside from one missed game, Jennings had fewer than 13 touches just once – in the season finale. McFadden was rarely active during that span, but when he was he sat firmly behind Jennings on the depth chart. Understandably so. Jennings was the #9 overall fantasy back from the moment he took over starting duties, averaging 14.2 fantasy points per game during that span.
Jennings compiled all six of his touchdowns during those eight games, and racked up 593 rushing yards (of his 733 on the season) and added 197 yards. All told, he finished with 1025 total yards, averaging 4.5 per carry on the ground.
McFadden meanwhile, finished with five scores but carried for a 3.3 YPC average for the second consecutive year, tying a career low.
2014 Outlook: Rashad Jennings
While he hasn’t signed anywhere else, McFadden is done in Oakland. It doesn’t make sense for the team to bring back the impending 2014 free agent with Jennings showing an ability to handle the load. Jennings is a free agent too, and should draw interest elsewhere on the market but I expect Oakland to focus their attention on bringing back a key cog in their 2013 offense while letting the lifelong Raider McFadden try to reestablish his career elsewhere. Both McFadden and Jennings have expressed an interest to continue their Raider careers, per the Contra Costa Times.
Should it play out that way, Jennings will enter 2014 as a starting running back for the first time in his career, to be supported by some combination of Reece and 2013 rookie Latavius Murray (and probably not CB Taiwan Jones) who spent 2013 on IR. There is a possibility that the Raiders who have been working in recent years to straighten out their salary cap situation will hand the keys over to Murray and let both impending free agents walk away. For now, we’ll assume that Jennings returns to Oakland as the presumptive starter.
If he picks up most of the 114 carries that were given to McFadden this year, Jennings will see a considerable increase in production. There is no guarantee that he’ll finish with a 4.5 yard average again, given that he is going to be working on a new career mark in touches but by volume alone Jennings should see an increase in his numbers. Again, Murray will find himself in the mix for carries next year, but it’s not asking a lot to see Jennings pick up 250 carries with 20-30 receptions. Should that be the case, a 1200 total yard eight TD campaign is in reach.
Don’t pay for Jennings at the cost of his eight game binge to close the season, but pay attention to the transactions and the camp buzz – including anything suggesting that it is Murray’s job- and feel free to treat him as a mid-range RB2 for 2014 if all goes well.