In a move that raised a few eyebrows but did not come as a complete surprise, the New York Giants released starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw yesterday in an effort to create cap space. The 26-year old Bradshaw was a member of two Super Bowl championship teams since joining the Giants in 2007 and has been the team’s starting running back the past two seasons.
Despite being hampered by injury throughout the 2012 NFL season, the former University of Marshall product, compiled a total of 1,260 yards and six touchdowns. Bradshaw also added 23 receptions and proved to be a fairly valuable asset for fantasy football owners as he finished 20th in fantasy points among running backs in point per reception formats, finishing the season with a total of 185 fantasy points.
A big reason why the Giants were able to make this move and save over $6 million on the salary cap is the presence of David Wilson, who New York selected with its first round pick out of Virginia Tech in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Wilson’s first NFL season did not get off to a great start and thanks to fumbling issues, he found himself in head coach Tom Coughlin’s dog house early on but eventually worked his way out of it by becoming a valuable member of special teams as a kick returner.
Yet, Wilson made his biggest impact in Week against New Orleans, when he rushed for 100 yards and scored two touchdowns, with one coming a on kickoff return. That was also the day he started to realize his immense fantasy potential, amassing 22 fantasy points against a weak Saints defense.
With Bradshaw out of the picture, the stage is set for Wilson to assume the starting role. Even though he had no other game quite like the one he had against New Orleans, Wilson did rush for 55 yards on 12 carries against Atlanta in Week 15 and then in Week 17 against the Eagles, the youngster capped off his rookie campaign with 90 total yards and a receiving touchdown, giving fantasy owners plenty of reasons to believe he will be an impact player next season.
It’s no secret that the Giants have always favored more a two-back system and that should continue in 2013, most likely with the return of Andre Brown, who did have total more than 100 fantasy points in 2012 thanks in large part to eight rushing touchdowns.
Yet, even with the presence of Brown, Wilson should be the main attraction for the Giants as he has the talent to be a true difference maker, while Brown is nothing more than a role player. Therefore, I expect Wilson, assuming he stays healthy, to touch the football approximately 300 times in 2013, which should mean very good production for a back that averaged over five yards per carry in 2012.
Wilson’s per carry average will certainly take a dip in 2013 as he takes on a full-time role, but a yards per carry average of 4.5 is a more than reasonable expectation, and with this ability to make plays out of the backfield as a pass-catcher in addition to being a talented runner makes Wilson the total package.That being said, the former Hokie will see a dramatic increase in his fantasy value and should be a solid RB2 in 2013 if not a low-end RB1 by seasons end.
2013 Fantasy PPR Projection: 1,200 rushing yards, 300 receiving yards and nine total touchdowns = 204 fantasy points in standard PPR formats.