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Gerhart

The Jaguars made a surprising splash on the first day of free agency after signing running back Toby Gerhart to a three-year, $10.5 million contract with $4.5 million guaranteed. Yes, that Toby Gerhart suddenly finds himself as a hot topic at every fantasy water cooler in America right about now. With Maurice Jones-Drew likely on the move and a depth chart that includes the likes of Jordan Todman and Denard Robinson at the moment, Gerhart suddenly finds himself in a situation few thought he’d be in tonight – he could be a starting running back in the NFL.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a step back.

Gerhart is best known for being an incredibly productive college player while at Stanford. In fact, his Senior season is still almost folklore as he rushed for 1,871 yards and scored 27 touchdowns on a healthy 5.5 yards per carry. Gerhart also impressed at the NFL Draft Combine as he posted a 4.47 40, 20 reps on the bench press, a 38″ vertical leap and the highest score in the Wonderlic with a 30. As a result, Gerhart was selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft as the 51st overall selection by the Minnesota Vikings. He played out his four year contract as the backup to Adrian Peterson and posted an admirable 1,305 rushing yards on 276 attempts (good for a 4.7 yards per carry average) and five total touchdowns as a Viking.

If you were playing in dynasty leagues back in 2010, you’ll remember Gerhart was one of the most polarizing players in rookie drafts that season, much like Johnny Manziel is this year. Nobody really knew if he could produce at a higher level and he landed in a borderline awful situation when it came to playing time, so drafting Gerhart required someone with patience. Realistically, most people who drafted him likely gave up him already as he’s been good, but not great at the NFL level. He can punish people at the line of scrimmage, but he hasn’t shown the ability to break many tackles or make a play out of nothing, In short, we haven’t seen that “it” factor from Gerhart thus far.

In Jacksonville, Gerhart suddenly sits on top of the depth chart. When the news of his signing hit, Twitter practically did an Ellen DeGeneres photo explosion as people starting anointing him a great fantasy option. I’m on record as being a tad more skeptical for a few reasons.

First, while Gerhart landed in a great spot for playing time, the Jaguars are likely going to have a rookie quarterback playing at some point in the season. Opposing defenses will be stacking the box and daring the Jags to throw the ball. In fact, they’ll do that with Chad Henne right out of the gate. Gerhart will undoubtedly find the sledding a little different when defenses aren’t gassed from chasing Peterson around.

Second, it’s very early in the off-season. The Jags could easily add another running back during free agency or the NFL Draft. They also still have Jordan Todman on the roster who showed some ability last season and was a bright spot during an abysmal season. I could see the depth chart look a little different when September rolls around. In short, this is a dangerous time to start putting labels on any player not named Peterson, Megatron or Rodgers.

Finally, Gerhart has never shown that unique ability to truly be elite. In fact, he’s looked quite average during major stretches in his career. There’s no guarantee he’ll get the bell cow touches in Jacksonville and even if he does, there’s certainly no guarantee he’ll do a lot with them. In fact, even though he’s likely going to be a goal line back, the Jags aren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut that reaches the red zone every possession. Again, we just haven’t seen anything dynamic from Gerhart thus far.

This is a great landing spot for Gerhart, there’s no doubt about that. Time will tell if he will truly reach his potential, but it looks like he’ll get his best chance. Owners of Gerhart should be ecstatic, but grounded at the same time. He’s currently the RB71 in our March ADP and you can expect that to skyrocket over the next month. When I look at this situation and think of all the things working against Gerhart being incredibly successful, my gut says to sell him if you can get RB2/3 or WR2/3 value for him. The hype train will go off the tracks over the next few months, but is the starting running back in Jacksonville (if he even truly earns that title) right now an incredibly desirable position in fantasy football? Regardless, this is at least a moderate win for his owners because he’ll have a puncher’s chance to be successful. Gerhart has known nothing but spot duty in his time with the Vikings, but now the Jags hope he earns his spots in a different way.

Free agency always throws us a curveball and this one was a serious knee buckler.

Ken Kelly

Ken Kelly

Senior Partner - Executive Editor at DynastyLeagueFootball
Ken is a corporate trainer by day an a tireless editor of dynasty content by night. His passion for the World Champion Seattle Seahawks is second only to his love of fantasy football and the dynasty format.

Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK
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55 Comments

55 Comments

  1. SJ

    March 11, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    God bless you Ken Kelly – thank you for putting some sanity to this

    • Slick

      March 11, 2014 at 9:19 pm

      I agree, Ken is the man. Besides the great analysis, this piece highlights a DLF staple – a good discussion about value. In the same piece, Ken seamlessly highlights this is an ideal development for Gerhart and his owners (upside!) while also reminding you to strongly consider cashing out soon (sell high!).
      I don’t own him (he is on waivers in my league) but certainly would take Ken’s advice if I did (I would be stirring up all kinds of possibilities for potential suitors).

      Is it me or is Gerhart = Hillis….2010 Hillis = ceiling and 2011 – 2013 Hillis is his floor?!!!

      just sayin’

      • Ryan

        March 12, 2014 at 6:31 am

        Do you only compare him to Hillis because he is white? I’ve been very impressed by Gerhart for awhile. He has never really go the chance but this is a great chance for him.

        I got him as a throw in on purpose this year hoping for free Agency to let him have a chance. He’s a guy I believe in. I just have issues with racial comparisons. Like Maziel can only be compared to other white QBs. IMO Gerhart is smarter, faster, overall better RB than Hillis.

        • Peyton Hillis

          March 12, 2014 at 7:59 am

          Are you calling me dumb and slow (and white)? F U Ryan!

  2. frank66

    March 11, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Gerhart was probably the best all around FA rb available this year. With his limited carries thus far in his career, he is fresh, and is probably very motivated to suceed after being stuck in the worst backup position in the entire league. He has the power-speed-agility combo to be an NFL success, get 15 plus carries, and he can catch and pass block very well.

    Let’s be honest, get over our collective “gerhart looks like a chunky white fullback” bias, and bask in the fantasy bargin that will be gerhart next year.

    • Ben Tate

      March 12, 2014 at 9:12 am

      “Best all around FA RB…”

      Ben Tate disagrees. Tate is CLE. He’ll sign there and be a starting 3 down back in a ZBS system, a system where he has already produced.

      • frank66

        March 13, 2014 at 7:47 am

        Tate is not an accomplished pass catcher, and has issues with pass blocking, both areas Gerhart excels in. True, Tate is faster and more agile than gerhart, but Toby is more powerful while still having above average NFL speed and agility. Gerhart will be a true 3 down back, and also the goal-line back. The same cannot be said with certainty for Tate. I also own both in Dynasty, so its not like I hate Tate or something, I’m just not blinded by an owners bias.

  3. Matt

    March 11, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    I have a hard time believing Gerhart has NFL starting running back capabilities long term.. Look for Todman to beat him out. Younger, faster, more athletic of the two and has much better hands. If Todman is given a fair shake I like his odds to win the job.

    • No

      March 12, 2014 at 3:20 am

      Sorry man, that’s just wrong. Go look at Gerhart’s agility and strength measurements from the combine and career numbers. He’s much better than Todman.

      Todman is a journeyman RB and has a 3.4 YPC and only had one good game against terrible Buffalo.

    • Yes

      March 12, 2014 at 7:55 am

      Matt, you’re correct. Todman is a much more explosive athlete than Gerhart, who was brought in to be nothing more than insurance for Todman. This is spot on.

      • Rob

        March 12, 2014 at 8:26 am

        They were both on the Vikings at the same time and todman wasn’t even close to beating out Gerhart. Not sure why that would change now…

      • $

        March 12, 2014 at 12:21 pm

        Go look at their contracts and tell me again who is starting over who.

    • jordanzs

      March 12, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      Gerhart/Todman 2014 = Leonard/Rainey 2013

  4. abecksta

    March 11, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    I know this is simply coincidence but still interesting, nonetheless. And I think, shines some light on what Gerhart’s potential upside could be.

    It seems like the Jaguars are following a similar path in building their team to the one the Falcons took in 2008.

    Coincidently (or maybe not), Dave Caldwell, the Jaguars GM was in Atlanta in 2008 when they signed Michael Turner and drafted Matt Ryan 3rd overall.

    Before joining the Falcons, Turner had spent his first 4 seasons backing up a great RB, while only carrying the ball 228 times. Sound similar? His first year in Atlanta he carried the ball for 376 times for almost 1,700 yards, with a rookie qb no less. Not saying any of this guarantees success for Toby, but it does seem likely to me that he was signed by the Jags and Caldwell, in hopes that he can at least partially replicate the success that Turner enjoyed in Atlanta.

    Also want to compare their combine numbers.

    Gerhart: 4.47-40, 20 reps on bench, 38″ vert
    Turner: 4.49- 40, 22 reps on bench, 31″ vert

    What does all this mean? In one sentence, I think that Gerhart’s career upside and trajectory is closer to Michael Turner’s then Peyton Hillis’, as some have been suggested.

    • bigefat

      March 11, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      This actually looks like an interesting tangent! I could see the savings of acquiring Toby now while building a team around your new young QB! I mean lets face it teams run off the pass and pass off the run! If they can keep throwing RBs out there then their new QB gets all kinds of experience while not getting killed holding the ball and praying someone gets open. They only need him to be serviceable not dynamic! Take the pressure off your QB for a few years and build up your line, Defense, WRs then draft your franchise back when everything else is in place!
      Hell it’s like a dynasty rebuild!

    • SJ

      March 11, 2014 at 10:58 pm

      That’s an interesting take on it Abecksta.

      Although I don’t really see the comparisons personally, I aplaude your different take on it.

      Looking back on Turner, I remember he was always thought of as a back just waiting for his chance to break out in the fantasy community. He was signed as the top FA RB that year, after sitting behind LT in SD, so everyone thought he would be a decent RB2. ATL was a bad team at the time, and a lot of people thought he would be pretty bad there, and the team would suffer throughout the year. Obv those people were wrong as Turner’s talent and the ATL offense really took off under new leadership and a running philosophy offensively, that relied heavily on Turner.

      So I guess there’s some similarities there, but JAX still needs a lot to even be in that previous position ATL was in. Good luck to them and Gerhart, but I just don’t think the talent is there for Gerhart or JAX in general.

      • cityslickers94

        March 12, 2014 at 5:40 am

        does anyone remember watching michael turner on SD? I do…
        i stashed him behind LT2 and rode him all those years in ATL.
        on paper, the stats may be similar, but I promise you turner the burner in his prime jumped off the screen.. he was an explosive bowling ball of a RB and he would dominate and break off 40 yd runs in garbage time. i dont recall same explosive running out of gerhart. sometimes you just have to actually watch the guys…

        • Sultan of Swat

          March 12, 2014 at 5:59 am

          Gus Bradley has found his Marshawn Lynch. I feel bad for all of you who didn’t pick up Toby off the waiver wire. However, this is a dynasty league altering signing and it’s time to accept it as such.

          • SJ

            March 12, 2014 at 8:52 am

            I think you may be making this out to be more than it should.

            It brings Gerharts value to new highs, but I doubt anyone is going to place him as a top 15 dynasty RB, or expect huge things for that JAX offense. He’s now in the RB2 discussion, like many other RB’s – and even more once the NFL draft hits.

            I wish you owners well, but trying to hype Gerhart as a long-term stud seems way out of place, when given the context.

        • SJ

          March 12, 2014 at 8:48 am

          I do remember those days. And again, going back to the comparison with Gerhart – Viewing Turner as being a breakout was much more clearer. Definitely no one expected Turner to turn in Top 10 numbers, but folks thought he would be decent as soon as he signed.

          This situation is a bit different and IMO Gerhart hasnt really shown great things while he was backing up AP. Thats all I need to know. I dont care about his measurables from 4 years ago, or his 40 time. He just looked plain average when given the opportunity. Turner did not.

          • abecksta

            March 12, 2014 at 9:33 am

            I most certainly cannot remember before 2008 so I can’t really remember Turner in his prime, but everything you said about Gerhart being average in comparison I don’t think I agree with. I’ve always liked what I’ve seen from him and have been excited at the prospect of him getting 15 carries a game and wearing out a defense for 2 years now. Think he is the type of guy that will get 50 yards in the first 3 quarters and another 50 in the 4th, when the teams are tired.

          • SJ

            March 12, 2014 at 9:47 am

            I could see that, but thats implying JAX will be playing with a lead and running out the clock.

            Even with their FA moves, JAX is still a perennial losing franchise. MJD was placed in the same situation and produced poorly recently. I think Gerhart is better than MJD at this point, for sure, but how the situation is still poor for a RB there should not be taken out of context.

  5. Confused

    March 11, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    I am actually shocked at the number of FA RBs that have signed before Ben Tate. Yes he has an injury history, but his upside is immense.

    • SJ

      March 11, 2014 at 11:02 pm

      One thing that’s certain in Free Agency is that health and availability is king. Just look at all the names that would be getting huge contracts if they were without injury red-flags. This is something not a lot of dynasty players take in mind when predicting this time. Its something I’ve noticed more of recently, so I’m guilty of this as well.

      If youre an injury risk, you’re not gonna get signed early or to a long term contract very often.

      • Sultan of Swat

        March 12, 2014 at 5:50 am

        How do you explain Talib getting 57 mil?

        • SJ

          March 12, 2014 at 8:54 am

          There’s always exception to the rule, but it’s definitely the baseline in terms of how FA is run in the NFL today.

        • ScottD

          March 12, 2014 at 12:25 pm

          Denver knows they have a short window, so they are taking short-term chances. Almost no other team fits that model.

          • cityslickers94

            March 12, 2014 at 5:40 pm

            true…also, until we see the breakdown of the contract, we do not know how elway front loaded, etc…that deal may really just be a 2-3 year deal (like most of those type of deals) so supply/demand + SB window = overpay, even with injury history

  6. Johnny

    March 12, 2014 at 3:02 am

    I actually owned Todman and was going to pick up D Robinson from waivers in order to corner the Jags RB market. Now I’m not so sure I want to invest in the messy situation. I was having a hard time arguing it would be worth 2 roster spots and now I’m certainly not looking to trade for Gerhart.

  7. JD

    March 12, 2014 at 5:38 am

    In the 5 games that (2011 : Weeks 11, 13, 14, 17) Toby played while Peterson was out/injured the majority of the game he produced these stats:

    Att Yds TD Rec Yds TD Tgt
    87 381 2 14 83 1 17

    3 of the 5 were against top rushing defenses (I won’t go to far on this since it’s MFL.com opponent rank)

    So if you extrapolate over a 16 game stretch you get:
    Att Yds TD Rec Yds TD Tgt
    278.4 1219.2 6.4 44.8 265.6 3.2 54.4

    I think realistic expectations for 2014 is

    10-15 caries per game at 4.0-4.4 yds /carry and 3 targets per game.

    Att Yds TD Rec Yds TD Tgt
    192 816 5 32 160 2 48

    That’s low RB2 in a time share with feature back upside.

  8. JD

    March 12, 2014 at 5:39 am

    * and 2013 Week 14 the 5th game

  9. Sultan of Swat

    March 12, 2014 at 5:56 am

    I hate to say it but and I hate to believe it but Gerhart would get far more love if he wasn’t a white RB. There are no similarities between his game and that of Peyton Hillis, yet that is the comparison everyone makes. It reminds me of people who compared Jordy Nelson to Wes Welker. Ridiculous. I believe that Gus Bradley just found his Marshawn Lynch. Before you call me out, keep in mind that Marshawn was left for dead by the Buffalo Bills and fantasy GM’s, he was traded for a 4th round pick, and Seattle at the time seemed like a terrible landing spot. I see Zane Beadles and Luke Joekel opening some serious holes in Jacksonville. If you didn’t pick Gerhart at the end of last season like I did all I can say is, eat it! This is his chance to prove himself and I can’t wait to root for him.

    • Ryan

      March 12, 2014 at 6:39 am

      Amen! This is spot on. I know he’s not Marshawn but he can be there version of him. I’m a huge Titans fan and I’m very impressed by what Bradley is doing in Jax. Look out for this team in another year or so.

  10. Sultan of Swat

    March 12, 2014 at 6:02 am

    I know Toby Gerhart is better than Rashad Jennings.

    • TOBY GERHART

      March 13, 2014 at 7:53 am

      I donno, Jennings was very smart to get out of the blackhole. Nothing against my Wonderlic score, but I’m white, dude… come on…

  11. scienergy

    March 12, 2014 at 6:56 am

    I guess I watched different film than other people did last year of Gerhart. I thought he looked explosive with every carry. He’s not the most elusive guy around but he has a quick step and exploded through the line very quickly getting up field quicker than average. After watching him, I immediately claimed him to hold for next season knowing he would be going to a different team. Jax was unexpected, I was guessing more along the lines of Browns or Giants, but this is a good place nonetheless. I just find it amusing that hardly anyone has anything good to say about the guy. That’s fine, keep his ADP down for those of us willing to take a late round gamble on a potential workhorse RB.

    • SJ

      March 12, 2014 at 9:00 am

      I think its quite the opposite – I think the majority feel Gerhart will do well and make his ADP rise. Is just, and as with most DLF articles, you’re gonna see a mix of reactions on here since its a pretty smart community that doent agree easily, and certainly have strong stances on players they’ve been following for years.

  12. Eric

    March 12, 2014 at 7:23 am

    Am I the only one that sees Steven Jackson in Toby? Both big, athletic running backs with a downhill running style. Size-wise they match up pretty well. Also, combine numbers are strikingly similar:

    Jackson: H- 6’2, W- 231, 40- 4.45, 3-cone- 7.03, broad- 9’10, BP- 16
    Gerhart: H- 6’0, W- 231, 40- 4.47, 3-cone- 6.94, broad- 9’9, BP- 20

    Even the Wonderlic scores are similar: Jackson- 28 & Gerhart- 30.

    I think this is a great move for both the Jags & Toby.

  13. ScottD

    March 12, 2014 at 8:21 am

    Gerhart owner here and I’m happy he’s going to get an opportunity to show what he can do. Jacksonville isn’t the ideal situation with QB issues, though the Beadles signing is a good thing for Gerhart. I’m guessing it’ll be some kind of job share in the end, but for everyone who’s held onto Gerhart, it’s just nice to have some hope that all the patience might pay off. Now, we need MJD to sign somewhere else….

    Definitely some sell-high potential as the hype train gets going.

  14. Jeff Miller

    March 12, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Qualifier: I don’t stand strongly in either camp, so after reading this, please don’t paint me as if I do…

    Before we get too excited about this guy, from Pat Thorman of Pro Football Focus (@Pat_Thorman): Gerhart scored 39.5% of his fantsy pts while MIN was losing by 15+ pts during 2nd half of their games (11.3% of MIN snaps).

    Garbage time while trailing is not the same as being the lead back. It just isn’t.

    • Wow

      March 12, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      Haha, are we supposed to believe that Gerhart won’t be playing in garbage time/catch up mode in Jacksonville?!

      • Jeff Miller

        March 12, 2014 at 2:48 pm

        I don’t think we know that yet. Jax envisions him as their lead guy. It is pretty rare nowadays that those guys get that sort of work. Todman fits the profile of a passing game back, as would, I suspect, anybody else they bring in.

        • meh

          March 12, 2014 at 3:01 pm

          Gerhart’s a great receiver out of the backfield. He has a 7.8 yards per reception average, Todman has a 7.7 yards per reception average.

          Sorry, again, I’m just not understanding why people think Todman will be anything other than someone who gives Gerhart a breather. He was terrible last year and Gerhart’s measurables and career production indicate he’s got everything it takes to be a lead RB.

          He’s a more talented Michael Turner, who was a RB1 for years in a similarly bad (at the time) ATL team.

          Seems like most people are just pissed off they missed out on a cheap/free starting RB.

          • Jeff Miller

            March 13, 2014 at 10:41 am

            Gerhart’s receiving stats are bolstered in a hugely significant way by how he was used. See the stat I posted above. He was almost strictly a 3rd down/passing game/garbage time player. I’m not saying he can’t catch it, but being used in those situations will make your stats look good regardless of skill set.

            Why was he used in that role? Because for all of AP’s awesomeness, pass catching is not a strength. Basically, Gerhart’s usage had more to do with AP’s single limitation than it did with Toby’s skill set.

            This doesn’t have to be anger at missing out on the guy (since you have no idea if I have shares of him or not). It could just be that I am making a rational, non-emotional point that you are too emotional to see rationally.

  15. suchislife

    March 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    The big question should be if he can handle a years worth of carries without getting injured. Not that he is prone and it is understood thay all RBs face the same question, but his running style will have him delivering and taking lots ‘o punishment.

    Best bet is to sell high what could easily be a committee back.

  16. Scienergy

    March 12, 2014 at 1:33 pm

  17. Yep

    March 12, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Gerhart’s a great receiver out of the backfield. He has a 7.8 yards per reception average, Todman has a 7.7 yards per reception average.

    Sorry, again, I’m just not understanding why people think Todman will be anything other than someone who gives Gerhart a breather. He was terrible last year and Gerhart’s measurables and career production indicate he’s got everything it takes to be a lead RB.

    He’s a more talented Michael Turner, who was a RB1 for years in a similarly bad (at the time) ATL team.

    Seems like most people are just pissed off they missed out on a cheap/free starting RB.

    • cityslickers94

      March 12, 2014 at 5:51 pm

      gerhart does not jump out on film the way turner the burner did back in 06 and 07. i actually stashed him and he was a starter for me throughout his run in ATL. that team was always talented on offense…and it was run first. gerhart will have every opportunity but JAX still has lots of holes on offense, beginning with QB. you cant win or run effectively without a good one, unless you are an elite talent like AP, which neither is/was. turner at least had ryan but there is no ryan in this year’s class.

      • Buck

        March 12, 2014 at 6:10 pm

        As a SD fan, Turner never jumped off the screen although we all knew he could carry the load for other teams. He just never fit the offense b/c he couldn’t catch the ball and sat behind LT for so long.

        A RB doesn’t have to “jump off the screen” to put up good numbers, which Gerhart has done since high school to college to the pros.

        • cityslickers94

          March 12, 2014 at 6:24 pm

          this is DLF where guys believe in eye test as well. i wont debate what u see..but my scouting eyes saw a sleeper/stash and i got RB1/RB2 value for 5 yrs in turner. granted the league has changed alot since then but anyone predicting the same for gerhart?

          i am not down on gerhart and will gladly add him for right price. but i will not blindly do so and expect shoe in RB2 numbers.

    • Jeff Miller

      March 13, 2014 at 10:42 am

      Re-posting this from another comment since it applies here:

      Gerhart’s receiving stats are bolstered in a hugely significant way by how he was used. See the stat I posted in another comment above. He was almost strictly a 3rd down/passing game/garbage time player. I’m not saying he can’t catch it, but being used in those situations will make your stats look good regardless of skill set.

      Why was he used in that role? Because for all of AP’s awesomeness, pass catching is not a strength. Basically, Gerhart’s usage had more to do with AP’s single limitation than it did with Toby’s skill set.

  18. Buck

    March 12, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    And if Jennings and Zac Stacy can put up RB2 numbers on terrible offenses, Gerhart will be juuuuuust fine.

  19. Ken Kelly

    March 12, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    This is what I truly love about DLF. A lot of good points here and a lot of good debate. I think what we all have here is a relatively unproven player who has found himself in a good playing situation on a bad football team. What that formula actually equates to is anyone’s guess.

    This is what dynasty fantasy football is all about!

  20. mcgrath730

    March 13, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    So, in one of my leagues FA is open all year. We also have a fairly limited roster. It’s only 10 team PPR. I’ve held on to Bernard Pierce, I’m wondering if it’s worth dropping Pierce and grabbing Gerhart. Thanks.

  21. Jax fan

    March 13, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    I’m excited about the signing, Toby / todman will compliment each other perfectly. In terms of Toby as a starter / 3 down back I’m not sold but if I owned todman I would be much more concerned about his opportunity/workload if a handful of other guys (Tate, cj2k, DMC) or a number of rookies (which I hope this signing will discourage) went to Jags than Toby. Also anyone that honestly thinks he will be more effective out of the backfield then todman clearly didn’t watch any of his tape and their opinion should be dismissed.

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