Jonathan Stewart was probably a pretty fun guy to own in fantasy football last year. He went into 2014 with yet another nagging injury and was once again working behind DeAngelo Williams, so you only needed to spend a 12th round pick on him in fantasy drafts, on average. If that, really. You probably caught him on the waiver wire after he produced one touchdown and zero games with 80+ rushing yards through the first six weeks.
But once week 10 hit, things started happening. From that point on, J-Stew had a role, scored two more times, produced two 122+ yard outings and had six contests with at least 14 total touches (three straight with 20+). Suddenly, out of nowhere, the oft-injured Stewart was relevant in fantasy circles and you had promoted him from your bench to the starting lineup. If all went well, Jonathan Stewart played a key role in getting you to and helping you win your fantasy football playoffs.
And now you’re all about the guy.
But should you be? I’m going to give that a big hell no, because as impressive as a runner as he is and as nice as his skill-set is, this is still the ever disappointing Jonathan Stewart we’re talking about. This is still the same guy we had high hopes for back in 2010 and 2011, only to seem him failed to produce 800+ yard rushing seasons and score just eight total touchdowns.
It got worse from there, as the injury bug bit Stewart hard in 2012, and since then he’s missed a whopping 20 of a possible 48 games. Now 28 years old, the brittle Stewart figures to be handed a mega role in an offense that leans heavily on the ground game. I find that to be troubling and I tend to think expecting the world out of Stewart all of a sudden is the king of all reaches.
The reason why, of course, comes down to his Average Draft Position. After going in round 12 a year ago and working his way back into our good graces, you now need to spend a fourth round pick on him or earlier.
Stewart was pretty good last season, but he wasn’t exactly elite. He still was just the 24th best running back in fantasy football, scored just three times and still sat out three games. That he put up solid production and slid into the top-25 despite sharing the ball and not playing all 16 games is encouraging. That he’s super talented and slated to have a massive role does make him tempting.
But only at the right price. For me, the ship has sailed on Jonathan Stewart as a stud feature back with the world ahead of him. He’s now slowly departing from his prime, should be an injury risk now more than ever, and is overall just a little too overrated for my liking. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think his fourth round ADP is horrendous. It sounds about right. But I still don’t love Stewart’s health history or the production we’ve seen in general over the last four seasons. If he slides another round (5), I might warm up to him a little more. For now, he’s a strong RB2 with RB1 upside, but I’m not chasing him down in drafts with reckless abandon. Instead, I’d rather wait far longer and nab his likely top backup – the impressive rookie, Cameron Artis-Payne – because logic suggests Stewart will probably share the ball and/or get hurt in 2015 and I’d rather grab the guy next in line that is due to benefit like he did a year ago.