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Iron Flags: David Wilson Is Back … So What?


David Wilson is back on the field. Medically cleared, the former first-rounder is a running back we can’t ignore entirely. You know the drill here: Wilson’s pedigree precedes his small-sampling of miserable NFL play. Maybe he carves out a role in a crowded Giants backfield, maybe he’s Jahvid Best without the proven ability to perform when healthy and a nasty fumble problem. But just maybe, he has the speed to emerge as a PPR backfield anchor that changes everything in your league.

The Rotoviz family had a backyard barbecue and discussed all things New York Giants backfield. We’re waging our reputations and planting flags on what you can expect from a triumvirate of glass-half-full backs.

Who is the least undesirable part of the Giants backfield?

Can you say irrational exuberance? That’s a pretty hefty jump, and I’d expect Wilson’s ADP to quickly rise even further. As long as he stays healthy. And doesn’t fumble.


 What’s interesting is that Rashad Jenning’s ADP, which was declining, is now also on the rise. He’s the most desirable part of the Giants backfield, but by most desirable I really mean least undesirable. If history holds true, based on their current ADP differential, neither RB will post true “RB1” numbers. Either or both might post usable RB2 numbers, however. In that case, the cheapest option is the best.

That might sound like a Wilson endorsement, but we haven’t accounted for Andre Williams yet, who would appear to be more durable than Wilson and possibly a better runner than Jennings. But early training camp reports suggest he’s truly awful at catching the ball, which will ultimately keep him off the field.

The Giants might make a successful three-man RB rotation. If they do, it’ll be a fantasy quagmire best avoided. Whether they do or not, the real winner is likely to be the Giants receiving corps. If the Giants RBs are ineffective, they’ll need to pass more. If the Giants RBs are effective, they’ll have more opportunities to score. But which receiver? My money is on Rueben Randle, but why not take a late round shot on Eli Manning, as an arbitrage play on the passing game? — James Todd

First-Round Pick, First-Class Bust, Top-Tier Injury Risk

Wilson was a reach when the Giants selected him in Round 1 as the third RB of the 2012 NFL Draft, and he’s a reach now if you select him at his current average draft position of 160 as the RB49. The myth is that his 2013 was derailed due to neck injury. The truth is that, before being injured, he played in five games and was entirely mediocre. He’s small, he’s not an exceptional receiver, he’s not a workhorse, he’s not a viable handcuff option—and he’s coming off a neck injury that some thought might end his career! I wouldn’t draft him at any ADP. In fact, I’m not drafting any Giants RBs this year—but I’ll be looking to add Williams off waivers really quick if and when the veteran Jennings (predictably) underperforms, giving the fourth-round rookie from Boston College the chance to get some run in year one. And don’t forget that the Giants have historically excelled at drafting big RBs in the middle rounds. Williams is the Giants RB you want this year. Except for Michael Cox. Of course. — Matthew Freedman

The world-beating upside of Andre Williams

I probably won’t own any significant shares of Wilson this year. Even though he’s been cleared, he’s still a huge injury risk. I think the most likely scenario is that he sees some carries this year on first and second downs while playing third wheel in a committee. I own Jennings on a dynasty team I inherited, but that’s it. He’s 29 and his ADP is awfully high for a committee RB on a team whose offense was flat out terrible last year. I do own several shares of Williams. I think he’s a good Zero RB target. He is a very talented pure rusher and he’s guaranteed to see the field. I expect that his playing time will increase as the year goes on. If Jennings gets injured, which has been known to happen, I think he could become a league-winner this year. — Justin Winn

Wilson is the one true week-tilter

I’m treating this Giants backfield very similarly to its 2012 version with Jennings as Ahmad Bradshaw, Williams as Andre Brown, and the abstruseness of Wilson as well, the abstruseness of rookie David Wilson. We know the Giants want to be more balanced despite the hiring of Bob McAdoo because they went out signed Charles Brown, Geoff Schwartz, Jennings, and drafted Williams. As far as fantasy football plays out, Jennings brings the most to the table immediately and although his combine measurables can be questioned six years after the fact, ask the Texans defenders still chasing him if he’s slow for his size. The problem with Jennings is that he falls into an area where I’m just unlikely to draft him over any of the receiver talent available surrounding him since I’m almost set early on going RB/RB/WRX4 in snake drafts as the landscape currently lies. Williams is the best Zero RB add of the group and Wilson is the one true week-tilter. Wilson still needs a perfect storm to have consistent weekly significance, so any shares that I’m likely to own from this trio will come in the form of the cheapest option, which is Williams. — Rich Hribar

Someone has to score fantasy points right?

I was pretty hopeful for Wilson last year just because I felt like he had C.J. Spiller-type potential. But because he’s really unreliable at pass blocking and also hasn’t established himself as a receiver I’m becoming more resigned to the idea that even if he makes his way back and has some big fantasy weeks, they could all be while he’s on your bench. There’s also the potential that he’s Felix Jones. I mean not literally. I don’t think Felix Jones actually changed his name to David Wilson. Moving on, I like Williams a little. I don’t hate Jennings. Somebody has to score fantasy points right? But I also feel like the drafting anyone from the Giants backfield is like a baseball hitter staring at an 0-2 count. You really have no idea what’s coming next but you’re pretty sure it involves walking back to the dugout. Wait, let me try a different analogy. The Giants backfield is like the . . . nevermind. Fuck it, I can’t think of a good one. — Fantasy Douche

Wilson is another lottery ticket

At first glance Wilson looks like a pretty solid arbitrage play on Darren Sproles , Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead, Pierre Thomas, or any other pass catching specialist going ahead of him.  Because the Giants lack a pass-catching specialist on the roster and because of Wilson’s dynamic play-making ability and smaller size, Wilson seems primed to be able to carve out a solid role in the passing game. By drafting Wilson you get a RB whose floor is a third-down back/PPR specialist and whose ceiling is the World Turtle.

Here’s the problem: That floor may be a mirage. Last year Wilson was only targeted on four percent of his snaps, good for 76th in the league among RBs with at least 100 snaps, and behind such pass-catching dynamos as Michael Bush, Daniel Thomas, and Shonn Greene. Pass-catching specialists like Sproles, Vereen, Woodhead, and Thomas? They finished first, second, fourth, and sixth in the league with 23 percent, 22 percent, 16 percent, and 14 percent target per snap ratios respectively.

Wilson’s history of usage in the passing game suggests a much lower floor than is generally acknowledged. In reality his floor is probably about as low as it gets—basically he could be unstartable for the entire year even if he stays healthy.  By drafting Wilson you’re basically buying a lottery ticket that the 23-year-old former first-round pick finally delivers on his tantalizing potential and takes control of the Giant’s backfield. That’s a bet I’m willing to make with a late draft pick, but as Wilson’s cost continues to rise that gamble becomes harder and harder to justify. — Pat Kerrane

David Wilson: Underperforming, fumbling RB with a neck problem

Excuse me for not jumping out of my chair to draft Wilson. Before he injured his neck last season Wilson averaged 3.3 yards per carry while having issues holding onto the ball. He has six career receptions so he’s not likely to get much third-down work. The rookie Williams had 10 total receptions in college and it’s already been reported that he is struggling with pass protection. Jennings is the Zero RB you want to own in this offense. There’s a reason the Giants brought in Jennings. It’s no surprise he’s the lead back going into training camp. I’ll let someone else gamble on Wilson. — Jacob Rickrode

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