David Wilson’s ADP is RB20 right now which means that you’re going to have to draft him in the 3rd round. I’m having a tough time envisioning a scenario where he ends up as the 20th running back at the end of the year. It seems like he’ll either end up as a top 10 back, or something like RB40.
If you look at the Giants as a team, they’ve finished in the top 10 in fantasy scoring for running backs all but one of the years that Tom Coughlin has been the head coach. Here’s a table that shows the Giants rank among NFL teams in fantasy points for running backs each of those years:
Over that time the Giants backs themselves have also been attractive fantasy options except when they’ve been hurt. Only injury has typically resulted in the Giants backs being anything less than great fantasy options. Tiki Barber finished in the top 10 a number of times during this stretch. Brandon Jacobs finished the season as RB12 while catching only 6 balls in 2008 and sharing the backfield with Derrick Ward. Ahmad Bradshaw has regularly finished in the top 20, while sharing the backfield and running around on two bad feet.
The upside for David Wilson is that he’s easily more physically talented than any RB that the Giants have had over that time. Wilson’s athleticism will be overlooked by rigid followers of Speed Score, but they’ll be ignoring that Wilson’s vertical leap and broad jump are elite. Those measures are correlated with 40 time, so it’s reasonable to assume that Wilson can actually run faster than he did when he was timed. I tend not to make judgments based on actual game watching, but Wilson’s legs look like a blur when he runs. He reminds me of Marshall Faulk in that regard.
If Ahmad Bradshaw can run around on two bad feet and still end up in the top 20 in fantasy scoring, it seems like drafting Wilson as RB20 has some safety built in. First, if things go well the upside isn’t maybe a low end RB1 like it was with Bradshaw. The upside is probably a top 5 season. None of the guys going in the top 10 right now are more physically talented than Wilson even if there are probably a few that would be tied with him. Also, the Giants have that great track record of providing fantasy value to running backs.
It’s always worth talking about the risks, so let’s do that. Wilson could fumble and get sent to the sideline. It’s also possible that he doesn’t pick up pass blocking like he needs to and doesn’t play for that reason. He could also get injured. Two of these risks are risks that are unique to Wilson while the third is universal for running backs. I don’t even have answers for the first two except to say that the other backs being drafted in Wilson’s part of the draft also have question marks although for the most part they lack the upside that Wilson has. But note that I’m not arguing that the downside isn’t there. I could see Wilson finishing the season as RB40.
Usually I like to deal in value where I’ve seen something already materialize and everybody else is forgetting it ever happened (Marques Colston types). But sometimes value is thinking about a range of outcomes and feeling like you’re getting the right odds to roll the dice. Last year I thought that Dez Bryant was one of the receivers going in his part of the draft that had a 12 touchdown season in his range. Even though my Similarity Scores didn’t tell me to take Bryant, I did in some leagues because I felt like the odds were still right to do it. Wilson is the same deal for me this year. If everything goes right, the sky is really the limit.