Giovani Bernard Is the Cincinnati Bengals' Running Back to Own in Fantasy Football

Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill have similar draft costs and play for the same team, but one of them is the better value.

It's common in fantasy football to have two players with similar average draft positions (ADP) that fantasy players have to decide between. What may be less common, though, is seeing those two players coming from the same team.

Right now, we have that exact situation happening with Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill. On MyFantasyLeague, Bernard is going ahead of Hill by about eight picks overall, and on Fantasy Football Calculator, it's Hill who's ahead in ADP by about 10 selections.

So who should you select?

Careers at a Glance

We know that rushing successes and Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) are the critical components to fantasy scoring for running backs.

For those unfamiliar with NEP, on every play, there's an expected point value an NFL team has for the drive based on yard line, down, and distance. What happens on that play can change the expected point value on said drive. What NEP does is aggregate the values gained or lost on every play into a single, net number.

You can read more about NEP in our glossary.

A success is any rush attempt that results in positive NEP, and Reception NEP is simply the NEP gained through receptions.

With that in mind, take a look at how Hill and Bernard have performed over their careers.

Player Year Rushes Rush Successes Success Rate Tar Rec. NEP Rec. NEP/Tar
Gio Bernard 2015 154 67 43.5% 66 33.98 0.51
Jeremy Hill 2015 223 91 40.8% 19 5.13 0.27
Gio Bernard 2014 168 61 36.3% 59 19.04 0.32
Jeremy Hill 2014 222 108 48.6% 32 7.74 0.24
Gio Bernard 2013 171 73 42.7% 71 32.45 0.46
Gio Bernard Total 493 201 40.8% 196 85.47 0.44
Jeremy Hill Total 445 199 44.7% 51 12.87 0.25

As a reference point, since 2011, the league average Success Rate was 41.2 percent, and the league average Reception NEP per target is 0.32 for running backs. Over their respective careers, Bernard has been slightly below average in Success Rate, while Hill has been slightly above. But the difference between them is somewhat small at four percent.

To put that in perspective, that's 10 rushing successes for a player with 250 carries.

However, there's a much larger gap in how the pair performs as receivers. Bernard is way above the league average, and Hill rests well below. To get an idea of the gap they have in Reception NEP per target, their difference is about the same as the gap between Matt Forte and Chris Ivory last season.

What About Fantasy Points?

We've spoken about their play on the field, but now let's talk about what you really care about -- the fantasy points.

Player Year Rushes Rush Yards Rush TD Rec Rec Yards Rec TD PPR Points
Gio Bernard 2015 154 730 3 49 472 0 187.2
Jeremy Hill 2015 223 794 11 15 79 1 174.3
Gio Bernard 2014 168 680 5 43 349 2 187.9
Jeremy Hill 2014 222 1124 9 27 215 0 214.9
Gio Bernard 2013 170 695 5 56 514 3 224.9
Gio Bernard Average 164.0 701.7 4.3 49.3 445.0 1.7 200.0
Jeremy Hill Average 222.5 959.0 10.0 21.0 147.0 0.5 194.6

Again, the pair looks to be fairly even, with the slight edge to Bernard.

But is this comparison as even at it appears? Take a look at how Hill has played when Bernard has missed time, per the RotoViz Game Splits App.

Hill has produced far better in games where Bernard has missed compared to ones he has not. That throws some serious shade on his dominant rookie campaign in 2014, as well as his aggregate numbers above. Now let's take a look at how Bernard has played without the presence of a two-down thumper...

Oh, that's right, such data doesn't exist. Bernard hasn't played a single game in three seasons without either Hill or BenJarvus Green-Ellis around to steal early-down work and goal-line touches.

And he still averages more PPR fantasy points than Hill.

This would also be a good time to note that Bernard has had at least 1,000 total yards in every season of his career. He also is top seven in targets, receptions, and receiving yards by running backs since he came into the league in 2013. Meanwhile, Hill seems to be very touchdown dependent, with about 31 percent of his fantasy scoring coming from touchdowns.

Draft Bernard

Bernard has the better floor than Hill. He has been the better producer despite always being in a timeshare, and he's accumulated receptions and yards very consistently. Those stats aren't only easier to predict in a season-long sense, but week to week there will be much less variance in his performance.

Bernard may also have the greater ceiling. We've seen what Hill can do in Bernard's absence, and it's terrific, but if you glance again at the above graphic, you'll notice that Hill doesn't become more active in the passing game with Bernard out. He simply increases his rushing attempts and yards.

But Bernard already has the role as a receiver locked in, with 43 or more receptions in every year of his career. But he's never ran the ball more than 170 times in a season or scored more than five rushing touchdowns.

If Hill were to miss time, Bernard could accumulate those statistics and become the player that Hill might be incapable of being -- a three-down player with access to both receptions and touchdowns. Very few running backs have that right now, and it could make Bernard a fantasy monster.

You absolutely need to be selecting him over Hill in 2016.