Jarryd Hayne Fantasy Football Predictions

Jarryd Hayne 49ers

Jarryd Hayne Was a 4-Time All-Star in Australia’s NRL

Dynasty league owners should’t sleep on Jarryd Hayne, the newest running back for the San Francisco 49ers. Working as the team’s second-string runner behind Carlos Hyde, the 6’2″, 220-pounder has racked up 258 total yards in two preseason games. Currently, he is averaging 9.0 yards per carry, 33.0 yards per kick return, and 21.6 yards per punt return.

One might think this is traditional training camp fodder, and it might well be. Several reasons exist for this to become one of the leading stories in the fantasy football world in 2015. In fact, if Hayne catches on with the Niners, he could become one of the feel-good stories in the NFL this year.

What Is a Paramatta Eel?

Prior to this season, Jarryd Hayne played in the National Rugby League (NRL) for the Parramatta Eels. For those who think the NRL is some kind of racing league, it’s the premier rugby league in Australia. Jarryd Hayne is an Australian footballer. (Yes, footballer–we’d call him a rugby player–but I was informed differently by an Australian I freelanced with at one time.)

In 2009, he was clocked as the fastest man in the rugby league. From 2010 to 2013, Jarryd Haynde was voted onto the NRL All-Stars Team. He also played for the Australian National Rugby League Team in those same years.

Hayne was a star for the Paramatta Eels, a top team in the NRL. For those not in the know, Paramatta is a suburb of Sydney, Australia.

To the shock of NRL fans, the 26-year old wing announced in the fall of 2014 that he would turn down a AU$1.5 million contract offer to pursue a career in the National Football League. He held workouts for NFL teams, then signed a free agent contract with the San Francisco 49ers. Hayne got a $100,000 bonus to sign, which is a pittance for NFL stars, but still a significant sum for an UDFA contract.
Hayne, who is now 27, wanted to settle the age-old question of whether a rugby All-Star could convert those talents to gridiron football. He has the size and speed to make the transition, but what value is a lifetime immersed in a sport?

Sure, he was one of the top players in his league, That was on another continent playing another game altogether.

I’ve always wonder what Barry Sanders or Adrian Peterson or Ray Lewis might look like on a rugby pitch. Given the economics of the two sports, we are likely to never see that question settled in organized play. Jarryd Hayne might be the closest we get to a answer.

You have a right to be skeptical, but the Niners players have been remarking about his talent after they’ve seen him play.

Niners Quotes on Jarryd Hayne

When Niners teammate Reggie Bush saw the tape on the Aussie footballer, he said, “He actually looks like an NFL running back. Looks like he could come play with us tomorrow.

Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick called him “a phenomenal athlete“.

After the OTA workouts, Kaepernick said, “It doesn’t seem like there’s much of a learning curve for him.

Rising through the RB Ranks

In training camp, Hayne was expected to be fourth or fifth in the pecking order at running back–very much on the roster bubble. The team had drafted Carlos Hyde in the 2nd round in 2014 to eventually be a replacement. With Frank Gore departing for the Indianapolis Colts in the offseason, Hyde was pencilled in as the starter.

The team also signed veteran Reggie Bush as a change-of-pace back. Bush is a former NFL star who might be slowed a bit by age and injury, but he remains a factor in any running game. So long as he’s healthy, Reggie Bush should be a solid addition for the 49ers.

Competition in the Running Corps

Veteran Kendall Hunter, free agent Kendall Gaskins, and 2015 4th-rounder Mike Davis round out the potential running backs on the roster. Most teams keep three to four running backs, along with a fullback or two. The position quickly gets crowded.

Yet, two games into the NFL preseason, Jarryd Hayne is the talk of Niners camp. He has shown explosiveness through the hole and a rugged style of running. He’s got speed and power. And despite learning a new sport, Hayne doesn’t seem all that far behind the curve.

Due to injuries and camp production, he’s been playing the role of the second-string running back, meaning he’s moved ahead of Hunter, Gaskins, and Davis. But he can’t seriously be competing for playing time, right?

Let’s take a look at why Hayne might get a shot to contribute this season.

Carlos Hyde: Flawed Starter

Carlos Hyde has not impressed. When I saw him run behind Frank Gore last year, I thought Carlos Hyde looked quick and powerful. My opinion was in the minority, though.

The Niners coaches and scouts are not that impressed with Hyde, if you believe the net rumors. They think he hasn’t picked up the passing game the way he should have, and he’s certainly dropped passes in preseason.

Worse, he still is hesitant at hitting the hole. All in all, the team is not sold on Carlos Hyde. He should be the go-to guy. Maybe he will be. If not, then the door is open for somebody.

Reggie Bush: Stealth Addition

If the door opens, the first one to walk through it will be Reggie Bush. He’s had a long career. Bush has been a playmaker in college and the pros. As recently as 2014, he was (semi)-starter on a playoff team: the Detroit Lions.

That being said, Reggie Bush is a 30-year old running back who relies on his speed and quickness. Also, he’s an injury waiting to happen. The main reason Reggie Bush never quite lived up to his billing was his inability to stay healthy.

Bush is a solid addition as a change-of-pace runner. He should be a good 3rd down option and is likely to take Carlos Hyde’s PPR numbers. With a team reeling from all the retirements on defense and the Aldon Smith situation, they need extra firepower on offense.

The problem is, if Reggie Bush is required to carry the load, history has shown he might not be able to do it. Thus, if the door opens for Reggie Bush, it might be a revolving door.

When Might Jarryd Hayne’s Opportunity Come?

Jarryd Hayne is not going to be the starter anytime soon. He might not get even one start in 2015. In fact, it’s probably a safe bet he won’t. But if Hyde and Bush falter along the way, I’ll predict he will be the Man. The team has drafted Carlos Hyde and Marcus Lattimore to replace Kendall Hunter. It signed Reggie Bush to replace him. Trent Baalke wants another option.

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But he could compete for the job in 2015, and he could do it soon. Remember, he’s a 27 year old, so his shelf life is not that long. The Niners took a flier on him to help them sooner rather than later.

This is a pick for dynastey leaguers and late-season DFS players. If you play in a keeper or dynasty league, take a similar flier on the Aussie rugby player. He should be fun to watch and cheer for.

Daily Fantasy Football Prediction

Most likely, Jarryd Hayne is more of a special teams contributor in 2015. He is already showing his ability to be effective on kickoff returns and punt returns. He’s also a natural tackler, because of his time in the NRL. That makes him perfect as a special teams standout.

But several scenarios present themselves in which he might become the starter. Remember, if Carlos Hyde gets injured, the Niners are not likely to lean solely on Reggie Bush. The former USC star might remain the 3rd down back and get a few more touches in early downs, but the team is likely to want a more durable running back in the lineup a significant part of the time. That player could be the Aussie.

If you are playing daily fantasy football, then add Jarryd Hayne to your watchlist and file what you’ve read here today for later. On some cold November or December day, you might get a note that Carlos Hyde and Reggie Bush are out of the way and Jarryd Hayne is a one-week starter. That could be your opportunity.

For another look at Jarryd Hayne’s highlights, here is an Aussie report about his NFL debut.

Though he impressed in the debut against the Houston Texans, many thought he looked even better in Preseason Week 2 against the Dallas Cowboys.