Now for another installment of our Fantasy Stock Watch periodical. This series takes a look at players who either exceeded their anticipated contributions this year, or failed to live up to them and what we can expect come 2014. The biggest concern: you want to draft based on value, rather than paying for stats that will be hard to repeat and/or paying an expectant price for development that may not come.
David Wilson, RB, New York Giants
2013 ADP: 28 (RB17)
2013 Position Rank: RB95
2013 Expectations: David Wilson
On a personal level, I found myself in the unique situation of speaking out against drafting David Wilson before the season, and subsequently advocating for patience/even trading for his services during the 2013 campaign. The argument against drafting Wilson was clear – the expectations were high, many pegged him as an automatic RB1 despite the fact that he totaled just 392 scrimmage yards in his rookie season.
With the injury to Andre Brown ensuring that Wilson would start the season as New York’s starting tailback, the expectations were sky high. We’d seen enough from him in 2012 to know that he would be an explosive runner when given the opportunity. His strong finish (four touchdowns – five if you count returns – and two 90 total yard outings in his last four games) gave plenty of reason for optimism.
Still, we hadn’t seen Wilson handle a workload over 15 carries a game so as much as people were willing to pay the draft day price, no one knew what to expect.
2013 Results: David Wilson
Wilson still hasn’t seen more than 15 carries in a game, now through his second professional season. Indeed, he started the team’s first game but fumbled twice on seven touches and wound up behind Da’Rel Scott for the remainder of the game (a recurring opening game theme for Wilson). While his workload picked up again against Carolina in Week 3, he wouldn’t play more than 50% of the snaps in any Giants game this season; being shut down after Week 5.
There were some hopeful glimmers: Wilson graded positively in each game, according to Pro Football Focus, except for the Week 1 disaster, but even his small sample size rushing average (3.3 YPC) was a massive disappointment.
An argument can be made that with his injury, and his performance leading up to it Wilson was the biggest bust of the draft this year. With 154 yards from scrimmage (on 46 touches), one score and two fumbles Wilson scored 17.4 fantasy points through five games this season.
2014 Outlook: David Wilson/New York Giants Running Backs
With the announcement that Wilson needs fusion surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck, after he had already been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, it’s looking like Wilson won’t be ready for the start of the 2014 season and it wouldn’t be surprising if he never played a professional snap again.
Beyond him, New York ran the ball with an interesting collection of backs led by Andre Brown after he returned from his own injury. Brown, though, is a free agent and while Connor Orr of the New Jersey Star Ledger pegs him as likely to return, I’m not convinced. If he does come back to the team, it won’t be to carry the full load. Brown performed admirably, including a gutty 30 carry game against the Raiders in his first game back on the field, but he wound up running for just 3.6 yards per carry – a number that trailed veteran Brandon Jacobs (suggesting that it was possible to be productive behind New York’s struggling offensive line this season). Jacobs has announced his intention to retire and Peyton Hillis is an uninspiring impending Free Agent. Let’s not forget, while Brown notched eight touchdowns on 73 attempts last season, he doesn’t have the makeup of a feature back. The Giants are his fifth NFL team, and I don’t think they view him as a back to build around.
Expect New York to address the position in the draft. And that’s where the value lies for fantasy gamers next year. We’re expecting this offense to rebound – not because they’ve gently retired OC Kevin Gilbride, simply because there is too much talent on the team not to bounce back from one of the more woeful offensive displays in recent memory. If so, whoever is running the ball here has a chance to succeed. While it may not be the case from day one, expect a new face to lead the Giants in rushing next season.