The Cincinnati Bengals selected Giovani Bernard in the second round of the 2013 draft. Bernard weighs in around 210 pounds compacted within his 5-foot-9 frame. Bernard displays speed, quickness and some pop in his running style.
Critics have said that Bernard may be too small to carry the every down load, but I must remind you of one of my most consistent fantasy performers over the past few years. His name is Ray Rice. He is 5-foot-8, just above 210 pounds and is a fantasy wrecking machine.
The physical comparisons are not the only similarities between these two backs. Rice, widely acclaimed for his rushing and receiving skills, has become one of the most reliable dual-threat sources for fantasy points among running backs. Doing his best Rice impersonation, all Bernard did over the past two seasons is catch 92 passes at the University of North Carolina.
Yes, there may be other rookie backs who appear to have more fantasy upside/inside edge to start (Montee Ball, Le’Veon Bell and Eddie Lacy), but all things considered, Bernard should have the best chance to churn out the most fantasy points in points per reception leagues once he acclimates to the NFL and coaches realize that BenJarvus Green-Ellis is still BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
In dynasty leagues, grab Bernard at the top of the first round. In redraft leagues, watch his progress during training camp. It is premature to grab him too early with confidence. If you can grab Green-Ellis, make sure you handcuff Bernard to him shortly thereafter. Remember, Rice had to bide his time behind Willis McGahee before it was his turn to shine.
One final comparison is interesting to observe between these two running backs. This comparison is of both players’ final college season, looking at both the rushing and receiving average.
Average yards per carry / Average yards per catch
Rice 5.3 / 9.6
Bernard 6.7 / 10.6
While those stats obviously favor Bernard, keep in mind that Rice carried the ball over twice as many times as Bernard in their final seasons.