Skip to main content

Waiver Wire Profile: Kenneth Gainwell is a Crash-Course on Pass-Catching Upside

Oct 26, 2021
Kenneth Gainwell

In another upsetting instance of why handcuffing your applicable running backs is a profitable strategy, Eagles RB1 Miles Sanders went down with a brutal ankle injury Sunday.

There are rumblings he’s “week-to-week,” which usually means he’ll miss at the very least a week or two, making rookie Kenneth Gainwell the next man up in Philly.

Special Offer: Get a FREE 6 month upgrade >>

Player Profile

Kenneth Gainwell, coming out of Memphis, was selected in the fifth round of the 2021 draft by the Eagles. He burst onto the scene in 2019 as a Tiger, totaling 2,069 all-purpose yards and 16 touchdowns. 

Through seven games with the Eagles, Gainwell has 26 rushes for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Through the air, he has 19 receptions on 31 targets for 164 yards and a touchdown. He’s played a steady 23-35 percent snap share behind a healthy Miles Sanders, but last week after Sanders went down in the first quarter, he finished with a tally of 51 percent of the offensive snaps.

Let’s start with the good: Kenneth Gainwell is a rock-solid pass-catching running back. Even with Miles Sanders healthy, Gainwell was being used creatively out of the backfield and running routes from various receiver positions. 

He also gets red-zone work. Sunday, Gainwell’s touchdown came on a well-executed Texas route before Sanders was injured.

Now, the not-so-good: Gainwell doesn’t look like a threat between the tackles yet. Also, his vision seems off sometimes, in that he’s often running into the backs of his blockers, and not in a prime Lev Bell, king of changing direction, kind of way. 

Gainwell’s propensity to run into blockers could be contributing to why his longest run of the season is just 13 yards. 

Gainwell also lost a fumble, which led to Boston Scott seeing a ton of work the rest of the way.

State of the Offense

The Philadelphia Eagles have the seventh-fewest rushing attempts in the NFL through seven weeks, and their leader in carries is QB Jalen Hurts

The Eagles are also 21st in total yards per game and 18th in points per game. Though they are by no means a high-octane offense, they are far from the worst. Both Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders are top-six in yards before contact per attempt, showing the capabilities of their offensive line. 

Gainwell’s competition for touches is undersized pass-catching back Boston Scott and veteran thumper Jordan Howard. Before week seven, Scott took a total of four offensive snaps. Howard is still on the practice squad as of Tuesday afternoon. 

Gainwell’s Outlook

Whatever growing pains Gainwell is experiencing when running between the tackles and occasionally into his blockers should be offset by his upside in the passing game.

It has been highly encouraging to see Gainwell’s involvement in all elements of the passing game and the red zone, even with Miles Sanders healthy.

However, he has a short leash, as Boston Scott took a ton of work from Gainwell after he fumbled Sunday.

I’m adding Gainwell in any league where he’s a free agent and starting him this week against the Detroit Lions, who’ve allowed the eighth-most rushing yards and most receiving touchdowns to opposing running backs.

Find and analyze trades for your team with My Playbook >>

SubscribeApple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | SoundCloud | iHeartRadio

Looking for advice tailored to your team? Check out our awarding-winning My Playbook tool. My Playbook allows you to sync your team for free in seconds. It offers personalized advice for fantasy owners, including a Start/Sit AssistantWaiver Wire Assistant, and Trade Analyzer. My Playbook will also send you news and alerts specific to your fantasy players. Join over 1 million teams that have been synched for custom advice, rankings, and analysis!

Featured, Featured Link, NFL, Player Profile, Waiver Wire