Beware of the David Wilson Hype
Looking at past decisions is the best place to start when trying to predict future performance. This is why employers ask seemingly random questions in interviews as they attempt to gain insight into your past job performance.
In case you have not heard, the New York Giants released Ahmad Bradshaw on February 6, 2013, leaving Andre Brown and David Wilson as the top candidates to replace his 221 carries next year. This was not unexpected among addicted fantasy footballers like me, as evidenced in the average draft position (ADP) done by Dynasty League Football (DLF), which you can find here.
Since DLF conducted six mock drafts among experts in January, it is helpful to use as a guide as popular opinion changes. In it David Wilson was the 14th running back to be drafted and the 32nd overall, requiring a late third-round pick to land him. Conversely, Andre Brown was the 57th running back drafted and the 183rd overall, requiring an early 15th-round pick to land him. Even though an enormous amount will change in the NFL between now and the start of the season, roughly 150 players were taken between the two. Not only is Andre Brown the better value, he might be better straight up. Here is why:
Before looking at season statistics, let’s review some individual games that provide insight into what the Giants were thinking during the year.
Week 3 versus Carolina: Ahmad Bradshaw missed the game against the Panthers due to injury and was therefore inactive. Andre Brown was on the field for 78.3% of the offensive snaps while David Wilson had 5.8% of the snaps. Not only did Brown draw the start at running back, he posted a very impressive 20 carries for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns. Wilson had one carry for minus 2 yards. The Giants won the game 36-7.
Week 5 versus Cleveland: With Andre Brown dealing with an injury, Bradshaw and Wilson were the two competing for carries. Bradshaw saw 94.7% of the snaps while Wilson saw just 2.6%. Bradshaw carried the ball 30 times for 200 yards and a touchdown. Wilson carried the ball twice for 44 yards and a touchdown. Wilson’s touchdown run was from 40 yards out in the fourth quarter with the Giants leading by 14. Once the Giants got the ball back to run out the clock, it was Bradshaw on the field for six straight carries.
Week 6 versus San Francisco: Andre Brown was inactive for a second consecutive week due to injury, once again making Bradshaw and Wilson the main runners. Once again, Bradshaw dominated the field with 84.6% of the snaps while Wilson gained a little bit of playing time with 10.8% of the snaps. Bradshaw had 27 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown. Wilson had 7 carries for 35 yards and no touchdowns.
Week 12 versus Green Bay: All three running backs were active for this game but Andre Brown broke his leg in the fourth quarter. Up until that 13th carry of the game for Brown, Bradshaw had 10 carries and Wilson had zero. Only once Brown was injured did Wilson get into the game to receive his six carries for 13 yards.
Week 15 versus Atlanta: With Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown injured, David Wilson drew the start at running back. Despite only having Kregg Lumpkin to share carries with, Wilson saw 56.3% of the offensive snaps while Lumpkin saw 39.6% of the snaps. Wilson had 12 carries for 55 yards while Lumpkin had 9 carries for 42 yards. Not only did neither running back get into the endzone, none of the Giants did. It was New York’s first shutout since 1996.
No one will deny David Wilson has talent. However, as fantasy football addicts, we care about how the organization will use the new platoon going forward. One of the big talking points about David Wilson this offseason will be along the lines of “a homerun threat every time he touches the ball.” What if I told you it took Wilson 11.8 carries to register a run of more than 15 yards but it took Andre Brown only 10.4 carries to do the same, despite being a goal-line back where all eight of Brown’s touchdowns were from within the 2 yard line?
Looking at the season as a whole shows more of the same. Andre Brown had 73 carries while David Wilson had 71. While those are smaller than ideal sample sizes, being similar certainly helps. Brown registered 3.36 yards after contact, which ranked sixth among running backs with 50 or more carries. Wilson had 2.66 yards after contact, which ranked 23rd. Wilson did, however, have a higher elusive rating (ER) than Brown, which measures the ability of a runner past the help of blockers, 39.0 to 35.5.
Many things can change between now and draft day, but if the past is any indication about how the Giants will use their backfield this season, Andre Brown will be the one you want on your roster.