The Giants suffered a blow to their offense on Monday with the unfortunate news that David Wilson’s NFL career has sadly come to a close due to continued issues with his neck. Wilson was a fantasy football flash in the pan who was extremely impressive in 2012, drafted highly in 2013, and now out of football in 2014.
Wilson’s absence opens up opportunities for the other backs on the Giants roster and is the first big ranking-shaking injury of the preseason. If you rely only on magazines published a few weeks ago, you’ll find Wilson in the mid-20′s with plenty of caveats about his health. Now, Wilson has already been placed on injured reserve for the season so is guaranteed to put up a total of zero points this season.
So who steps in and gets the fantasy points from the Giants’ running game? Here is a quick look at the running backs who will see time in the Giants’ backfield and where I think they rank heading into the season. Unlike last season, Brandon Jacobs isn’t walking through that door (or at least not that we know of yet)…
Jennings was already a sleeper that I liked a lot to get plenty of work even with Wilson healthy. The Giants like to use a rotation of backs, but now Jennings looks primed to get a much bigger share of the load.
Jennings had a breakout second half last year for the Raiders showing the ability to get involved in the passing game as well as some breakaway speed to go with his punishing running style in short yardage.
With the new situation in New York, Jennings is a great grab as your third RB. He should definitely get the bulk of the work in an offense that likes to run the ball. New York likes to rotate backs, but Jennings will be huge in the New York passing game making him an even better pick in PPR leagues.
However, Jennings may lose carries around the goal line to Andre Williams (see below), so don’t overpay for him. Even though I like him as a third RB for your team, I don’t see him as a lock to be a top 20 RB most weeks especially not in standard scoring. There’s a chance that his stock will rise too high now that he’s the “primary,” but don’t go chasing too high for him in your draft.
Jennings is likely to be the most utilized back for the G-men, but he may not be their most explosive threat–that title goes to…
The rookie from Boston College has been impressive in camp and looked good in the Hall of Fame game. Williams has a different skillset than Jennings, and he seems to be tailor-made for goal line duties. The Giants seem interested in getting him even more involved than that, though, and Williams has the best value now that Jennings’ sleeper status is pretty much over.
If he becomes the touchdown maker in the Giants offense, he’ll definitely have some value as a weekly flex consideration and should be drafted towards the end of your draft to help round out your depth chart. He has some serious upside now that it looks like he’ll be the primary backup and could even threaten for a true timeshare as the season goes on.
The one area where he won’t contribute much is in the passing game, so if your league is PPR bump Jennings up a few slots while not expecting any help in that regard from Williams. His value will be in his ability to get into the end zone.
Williams is a nice late-round pick as you’re rounding out your bench since he does have the upside to contribute meaningful stats this season.
Hillis is the backup-backup-backup plan in New York and doesn’t hold much fantasy value going into the season. However, last year when he was forced into action by injuries to the Giants’ backs he did show he has a little gas left in the tank. Outside of the deepest of leagues there’s no need to go get Hillis, but it’s worth knowing that he’s the next man up if Williams or Jennings goes down with an injury or struggles with turnovers.