Rashad Jennings


Recipe for the Rashad Jennings Career Season


By Alan Satterlee, DFW Senior Writer and Co-Owner, @Speedkills_DFW

// DFW / REDRAFT 2016 SERIES

Rashad Jennings got some love by Avery Jones in a recent DFW article “don’t be an ageist article” and I couldn’t agree more. In part, I say that as I too was among those I think not evaluating Jennings properly for the 2016 season. Jennings is being too easily dismissed by everyone — in part because he isn’t 23 years old, he’s 31. Jennings, however, is off a career-best season with 863 rushing yards and 2016 looks to be set up to be the crown-jewel and peak season of his NFL career.

Jenn Image1
Jenn Image2

The lack of Jennings love has shown up all off-season. In the February article, Out with the Old, in with the McAdoo — NY Giants Fantasy Impact, Brian Hawkes cautioned that “expectations should be limited as the Giants are likely to seek alternative options in free agency or the draft for the future of their rushing attack.” Likewise in the ROOKIE PROFILE for Paul Perkins, it noted how Perkins “may be the most complete RB in camp”, but how “that is not really saying much — Rashad Jennings looks to be the starter at this point but the aging veteran always to seems to get hurt when his work load increases.” So, again, not a lot of love for a 31-year-old running back who has never rushed for 1,000 yards, I get it. That sentiment carries over to the DFW dynasty rankings, with Jennings ranked as RB60, RB59 and RB55 in the June dynasty rankings. 

The Giants may have a crowded backfield on paper, and one of them could be the “back of the future”, especially in 5th-rounder Paul Perkins (21), or maybe deep-sleeper Marshaun Coprich (21), or Andre Williams (23) or Orleans Darkwa (24). However, Jennings is by far and away their most talented running back. The Giants also are very much a team competing for a Super Bowl run this season, and that would make it even more likely why the team would turn to a veteran presence like Jennings (especially given the close to his 2015 season). 

Jennings Data

Jennings has been a strong addition for the Giants, initially under Tom Coughlin with Jennings signed in 2014 (career stats above) — Jennings totaled 865 total yards on 197 touches in 11 games that season (Jennings missed time due to an MCL injury). Jennings then played through an entire season for the first time in his six-year NFL career season last year, totaling 1,159 yards on 224 total touches. While these stats already show up an upward trend as Jennings enters his third season with the Giants, there’s an even more compelling trend under those numbers, which is the final month of the 2015 season where Jennings was finally allowed to be the team’s featured back, and delivered in strong fashion.

Over the final month of the 2015 season, who was the number one rusher in the NFL you might ask? The answer is Rashad Jennings, who totaled 432 yards rushing over those four games (including against Carolina and Minnesota as well) — better than David Johnson (3rd), better than Adrian Peterson (5th), better than Todd Gurley (7th) and better than Doug Martin (8th).

Jennings3

After averaging a truly ridiculous low 9.7 carries per game in Weeks 1-13 (for 35.9 rushing yards per game), the Giants finally stopped their near-obsessive rotation of the running backs and just went with Jennings. Again, what did it yield? It yielded the best runner in the game (from a stats perspective of course). But instead of 9.7 carries per game (there’s no rhythm there), Jennings averaged 19.8 carries and responded with 108 rushing yards per game. Then Giants’ offensive coordinator last year, and now new head coach, Ben McAdoo likely didn’t miss Jennings’ strong close to the season either.

Jennings4So, heading to 2016, is it possible that we have the “Recipe for the Rashad Jennings Career Season?” I think it is. Paul Perkins is a nice speculative dynasty pick — I own many shares — but he isn’t really a threat (at all) to be the featured back in 2016. Jennings is a proven pro. He’s off his best NFL season of his career, and better still Jennings is off the best month of his career as well.

It’s important to keep in mind that Jennings is also playing in an elite offense, a team that was 4th in the NFL last year in scoring at 26.2 points per game and 6th in the NFL in yards per game (372.2). Jennings himself was a light scorer last season but he certainly ought to have more than four touchdowns on some mean reversion based on his touches and being a major part of the 4th-highest scoring offense. If you buy into the premise that Jennings is set to be more of a featured back in 2016, that’s he’s a seasoned pro ready to bring it all together for a personal career-defining season, then I wouldn’t sweat the low touchdown rate from 2015 too much. 

Jennings also gets a huge plus for his work in the passing game. The Giants have Shane Vereen and he is, and will be, the main back in passing situations (Vereen had 59 receptions last year), but Jennings is no slouch in this area and adds to his cause in PPR scoring. Jennings has 29 receptions last season, and 30 receptions through 11 games in 2014.

For what it’s worth, Jennings also believes he is entering the prime of his career as well. In aLivertyJenbn July interview in the Newark Star Ledger, Jennings had this to say. “A pro really understands how to take care of his body, and he understands the X’s and O’s and can play the game before it happens,” Jennings said. “I’ve been allowing my maturity to catch up. I’ve been excited as I get into my later years, and I’m just getting into my prime.” It’s been a huge off-season for Jennings and he is in his prime. In March, Jennings shocked his mother with a new house, and delivered the commencement speech at his Alma matter Liberty University, and now he is set to earn his second straight season of big NFL money (same as last year at $2,812,500) with $3,062,500 on the line for next season (the final of the 4-year, $10M contract Jennings signed with the Giants in 2014).

In dynasty, you can’t expect years and years of productivity, but you can likely get Jennings on the very cheap right now (maybe someone would accept a 3rd round pick for Jennings, or maybe your 2nd for Jennings and a 3rd in return). You want to target Jennings in leagues where the team that has Jennings looks like they won’t start him now anyway on paper, or a team who may want to shed an older player for youth or picks. In redraft, Jennings can be part of a later-draft running back strategy where you first load up at receiver and other areas and then nab likely a stout sleeper RB2 in the 8th round of your drafts if Rashad Jennings can deliver on what could be the recipe for a career-best NFL season here at age 31.