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Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update: Kenneth Gainwell, RB PHI

Where does Kenneth Gainwell fit in Philadelphia and what can you expect moving forward?

Kenneth Gainwell

The NFL Draft is behind us, rookie drafts are taking place, and as dynasty owners, we are looking ahead to the upcoming season. In the Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update series, we break down all the incoming fantasy-relevant rookies, looking at their profile and where they fit.

Name: Kenneth Gainwell

Position: Running Back

Pro Team: Philadelphia Eagles

College Team: Memphis

Draft Status: Round five, 150th overall

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

COMBINE REVIEW

  • Height: 5’8 3/8”
  • Weight: 201 lbs
  • Hands: 9 7/8″
  • 40-yard dash: 4.47 seconds
  • Bench press: 21 reps
  • Vertical jump: 35″
  • Broad jump: 121″
  • Three-cone: 7.26s
  • 20-yard shuttle: 4.46s

Size was always going to be Gainwell’s kryptonite in the NFL Draft. The diminutive back would always be measured up amongst the backs smaller in stature.

Lacking the ideal size of a starting back in the NFL his comparable in Mock Draftable are not ideal. Players like Karan Higdon, Trayveon Williams, and Mike Weber litter the top of his list.

While at Memphis, Gainwell managed to relegate Tony Pollard, Antonio Gibson, and to even split carries with Darrell Henderson.

STRENGTHS

  • Handled heavy workload with size limitations
  • Solid in blitz pickup despite size
  • Doesn’t waste motion with his cuts and runs
  • Plus vision and will press the zone on his runs
  • Fluid route runner in the passing game
  • Natural hands catcher with the football

WEAKNESSES

  • Quick first step but can be caught from behind
  • Limited as an interior runner
  • Elusive back but lacks strength/size to push the pile
  • Size

OPPORTUNITIES

I would not call Miles Sanders “injury-prone” at this point in his career. He was limited in what was supposed to be his “breakout” year in 2020 as the main back and has been listed on the injury report for plenty of strains and sprains each year.

Gainwell is no Darren Sproles but he could be a perfect change-of-pace back to spell Sanders. Gainwell can flex out in the slot and play on third down as an added bonus.

THREATS

Sanders’s 2020 season was disappointing as he was limited throughout by injury. I would be surprised to see Gainwell outright unseat Sanders as the main back on the team. He could however eat into the split between the two. The likely situation in a base case scenario is that it becomes an even split between both backs.

SHORT-TERM EXPECTATIONS

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni likened Gainwell to Indianapolis RB Nyheim Hines shortly after the 2021 NFL Draft. With Doug Pederson gone, the team might not have quite the commitment to Sanders as was shown in the prior two seasons.

LONG-TERM EXPECTATIONS

At best, maybe Gainwell has a few seasons similar to Phillip Lindsay before the coaching staff seeks out a running back with prototype size. Gainwell does not have the speed to lock in a starting spot for an extended time.

Similar to other smaller backs though, he likely becomes a player with a career as a third-down pass-catching option.

NFL PLAYER COMPARISON

A better Ito Smith. The former Falcons back Smith held down a role for a brief period of time in Atlanta and I feel that Gainwell is a better player on tape. I also have heard the name Jeremy McNichols mentioned at times. McNichols was much larger in size, coming in over 210 pounds during the draft.

PROJECTED ROOKIE DRAFT RANGE

According to DLF’s Rookie ADP, Gainwell currently holds a 25.30 average draft position, making him the 2.01 pick on average, and is typically the sixth running back off the board. This is the perfect range to deal for 2022 draft picks or use this pick to move up earlier during your drafts.

Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update: Kenneth Gainwell, RB PHI
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6gummybearsandsomescotch
1 year ago

Thanks for the article, Peter! I’ve heard a lot descriptions of 2021 rookies as better for the NFL than fantasy and I feel Gainwell may fit that but I do like your take about the coaching staff not being as tied to Sanders being the bell cow. In MFL, Gainwell is currently going off at 2.08 or 20th overall in ADP ahead of St. Brown, Toney, Dyami Brown, Jarwin and Amari Rodgers. Would you take him that high or is it wise to try to wait for the slide to 3.01 as you mention in the article? I feel like the upside of those WR’s and Jarwin is more solid. Thanks again!

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