Gio Bernard's second house call (USAT Images)
Cincinnati Bengals rookie Giovani Bernard touched the ball nine times against Pittsburgh on Monday night, and he found the end zone twice, gaining 65 total yards. It was an impressive performance in a degree-of-difficulty matchup. No complaints here.
Neither of Bernard's touchdowns were wow plays, necessarily — the second TD was made possible by Kion Wilson's slip-and-fall — but that's not a bad thing. We saw Bernard run with power at the goal line, and we saw him jet to the perimeter on a simple check-down. Highlights here. The kid is plenty quick, and he uses his blocks like a vet. He's not some gadget player; he looks the part of a featured back.
But as a public service, I feel compelled to remind the fantasy community that BenJarvus Green-Ellis is not going away, no matter how much you'd like him to leave. BJGE functioned as the run-down-the-clock back on Monday, late in the fourth quarter. He played 50 snaps to Gio's 29, according to Pro Football Focus, and the split was 37-to-22 in Week 1.
As ball-carriers, there's little question that Bernard is livelier than Green-Ellis. No one's gonna argue that point. Please don't be the goof who acts as if Cincinnati's coaches don't know what they have with Gio. The team drafted Bernard in the second round, ahead of all other running backs in the 2013 class. They see this player every day. The Bengals are not unaware of his talent.
But the Cincinnati coaches also don't give a [bad word] about our fantasy needs, so we'll have to accept the fact that Green-Ellis remains in the picture. The Law Firm, believe it or not, has some real-world value. He's a non-fumbling three-yards-per-tote runner, reliable in pass protection, competent in short-yardage situations. He's gonna play. Gio is gonna play. Both will play.
It's not crazy to hope for an eventual 50/50 split in snaps, assuming both backs remain healthy. And it's even reasonable (with an optimistic lean) to perhaps think Gio could receive more touches than Green-Ellis in December. But if you're thinking BJGE will simply fade quietly — that he'll find himself on Cincy's discard pile, with DeDe Dorsey and Kenny Watson — then you're not being realistic.
Embrace the job-share, gamers. You can't wish it away.
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