Half the fantasy world has its shovel firmly in the dirt, ready to bury that infernally regretful call to running back action, #FreeDavidWilson.
The other half, of course, is prepared – giddy, even – for that hashtagged cry to the fake football deities to live on.
The Giants on Wednesday afternoon released their creaky-footed longtime workhorse running back Ahmad Bradshaw, a money saving measure to be sure, and one that wouldn’t have been made if New York coaches weren’t comfortable with their two remaining backs: David Wilson and plodder Andre Brown.
Probably both extremes of the David Wilson argument should be ignored, since on one end, there’s an argument for the speed merchant as a plug-and-play top-10 back, and on the other end, Wilson’s talents will be carefully used to very particular situations. Barring a Brown injury – like the one that ended his season in November last season – Wilson’s usage and fantasy production will likely fall somewhere near the middle of the wildly wide-ranging spectrum.
Wilson has done more than flash his unmatched quicks and ludicrous breakaway speed. In Week 14 against the moribund Saints’ run defense, Wilson whet our collective fake football appetites with 100 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries after Bradshaw gimped to the bench in the second quarter. He tacked on a modest 227 kickoff return yards, along with another score. A less-than-horrid day, all in all.
Wilson, naturally, crushed his most avid apologists (me) the next week at Atlanta, finishing with 55 yards on 12 carries. His miniature workload was dictated by game flow, as Eli Manning took the day off and the Falcons ran roughshod over the G-Men, and Wilson struggled in pass protection. The latter issue is a troubling for Wilson’s 2013 prospects, and it’s the reason skeptics see Wilson as a finely tuned torpedo to be seldom deployed while Brown plods on his merry way.
Brown finished his limited 2012 with 5.3 yards per carry on 73 carries, scoring eight times in a role he will likely retain in 2013. He’ll certainly be valuable in his own, more limited way.
Wilson will be among the most closely monitored fantasy commodities of the 2013 offseason, and rightfully so. Camp reports will fill in the disputed gaps in the speedster’s prospects. His pass protection will be paramount over these next five or six months, so watch for coaches’ comments on Wilson’s ability and willingness to keep Manning upright. His skill is unquestioned, but no unreliable pass protector is going to see workhorse-type carries in the Giants’ backfield.
Wilson, like Jamaal Charles, isn’t a guy who needs 25 carries to post monster fantasy lines. Owners backed away from Charles in the weeks before the 2010 season as then-head coach Todd Haley talked up Thomas Jones as the Chiefs’ starter and primary runner. Charles only finished the season as a top-three running back on the strength of an unbelievable 6.3 yards per tote (this, crazily enough, didn’t stop the #FreeJamaalCharles movement from proliferating across the various Twitters).
The Giants’ backfield situation won’t be the same, of course, but it’s worth noting that owners who have taken a chance on the game-breaking back, the guy who, as Giants general manager Jerry Reese said, can “go 80, 90 yards on any touch,” will be the one to have.
Wilson’s insanely early average draft position is 31.6. That’ll rise steadily over these next few months, and unless the skepticism wears thin as coaches talk up Wilson as a 20-touch-per-game guy, I think he’ll be something of a value pick.
#FreeDavidWilson will live on though, even if he cracks 1,200 yards on 6 yards a carry.
Why? We’re insatiable, greedy bastards. That’s why.