Heading into the Week 15 Sunday games, Minnesota Vikings running backs Toby Gerhart and Adrian Peterson are both listed as “questionable” on the official injury report. Between the two, Coach Leslie Frazier has been more optimistic for Gerhart’s chances of starting against the Philadelphia Eagles, according to ESPN.com’s Ben Goessling.
Temptations are now high for many fantasy owners to start Gerhart this week. However, starting Gerhart—regardless of Peterson’s status—during this fantasy playoff week would be foolish.
Considering all of Gerhart’s past performances, he has never shown to be a reliable high-producing fantasy running back. For the 2012 and 2013 seasons, respectively, Gerhart has been outside the top 50 running backs for total fantasy points, fantasy points per opportunity (carries plus pass routes) and fantasy points per snap played, according to Pro Football Focus advanced metrics (subscription required).
Additionally, Gerhart has had only one multiple-touchdown (two) game in his career. That particular game was also his career-high single-game fantasy performance (17 points in standard scoring). Cumulatively, these statistics show that Gerhart has a low upside for fantasy production.
Gerhart’s Week 15 matchup would also not be favorable for him. The Philadelphia Eagles defense is in the top half of the league for total rushing yards allowed, total rushing touchdowns allowed, and average yards per carry allowed for the season.
Also, the high-powered Eagles offense (No. 3 in league in yards per game) will likely build an early lead on the Vikings, which will force the Vikings to abandon their run game.
And if that were not enough, the symptoms of Gerhart’s hamstring strain could be exacerbated at any time throughout the game. The high recurrence rate and high symptom aggravation rate of hamstring strains is well documented.
This means Minnesota will be concerned about Gerhart suffering any setbacks and may pull him from the game with even the slightest exacerbation of his symptoms.
If Gerhart does start for the Vikings in Week 15, fantasy owners should still try to avoid playing him due to his low upside, unfavorable matchup and increased chance of leaving the game due to injury. Gerhart is outside the top 20 fantasy running backs for Week 15.
Every fantasy owner that made it to the fantasy playoffs should rely on the players who got him or her there, and only play Gerhart if he or she is desperate—such as an Adrian Peterson owner.
All aforementioned statistics are courtesy of Pro Football Focus and ESPN.com’s fantasy football statistics.