Giovani Bernard may be somewhat of a project for fantasy owners looking to stash a back in a glass case. BenJarvus Green-Ellis' reliable—albeit pedestrian—talents will keep him on the field. But as Bernard progresses in the Bengals' potentially potent offense, it will become increasingly difficult for this sleeping stick of dynamite not to explode.
He's like a brand new Ferrari that Marvin Lewis and company can't wait to drive. Flashy Ferrari aside, there's still gas left in the tank of the BenJarvus Green Caravan that can always be depended on to carry the football safely from point A to point B.
Green-Ellis' game isn't pretty, but it's effective. His streak of 589 career carries before his first fumble was the longest such streak to begin a career in NFL history. His pass-blocking skills are above average. Sure, he runs like a 2008 Honda Odyssey, but with him in the backfield, the Bengals are in plus territory in the all-important category of turnovers.
Fortunately for Bernard, Green-Ellis presents a low ceiling for big plays, which the Bengals could use in their ground attack. As impressive as his non-fumbling streak was, Green-Ellis rushed for more than 20 yards just four times in his first 510 carries.
As is customary with many sleepers on this list, coaches have had nothing but high praise for the surging second-rounder. Running backs coach Hue Jackson already sees "every-down" potential in the University of North Carolina product, according to Pete Schramm of Bengals.com.
Bernard's pass-catching abilities will help accelerate the inevitable takeover. The Bengals drew up a bevy of screen passes for him during rookie minicamp, and there has already been talk of Bernard lining up as a wideout in some packages.
Joe Reedy of The Cincinnati Enquirer (h/t Rotoworld) predicted a 50-50 timeshare between Bernard and Green-Ellis by the start of the NFL season. If this is true, Bernard is well ahead of schedule. If he continues to catch on in pass protection and blitz pickup, he'll have every-down duties by November.
2013 Projection: 949 Rush Yds; 389 Rec Yds; nine TDs
The 2013 Sleeping Seven is brought to you by a five-time Fantasy Football Champion. It documents criminally unheralded players with an Average Draft Position (ADP) past the fourth round. Combine a team of reliable studs with a steady diet of late-round overachievers, and a juggernaut awaits.