The New York Giants parted ways with running back Ahmad Bradshaw on Tuesday after six seasons with the team. The Giants will move forward with David Wilson and Andre Brown sharing responsibilities in the backfield. Fantasy football owners should anticipate Wilson becoming a borderline number one running back and Brown converting touchdowns near the goal line.
Wilson had trouble securing the ball early on in his rookie season, and was seen as a liability in pass protection. He managed to turn heads when his workload increased in the second half of the season. His season was highlighted by a Week 14 performance against the New Orleans Saints in which Wilson ran the ball 13 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns. The Giants were pleased enough with what they saw to cut their distinguished veteran in favor of the younger, more dynamic Wilson.
The fact that Wilson stands at just 5’9” does not automatically disqualify him from handling a heavy workload. However, the Giants will likely implement a 60:40 carry split between Wilson and Brown.
Brown also had several impressive games early in the season while Bradshaw was sidelined and Wilson was in the doghouse. Before a season ending injury, Brown tallied eight touchdowns and averaged a quality 5.3 yards per carry in his primary role as a goal line back. Brown will likely enter the 2013 season under the radar as a candidate to receive a share of the workload and all of the scoring opportunities close to the end zone. At a bruising 227 lbs, Brown is a candidate for double-digit rushing touchdowns in a Giants offense that promises to rebound back to the top of the NFL next season.
As for Bradshaw, he will have little trouble finding work with another team. At just 26, Bradshaw has a lot left to offer and could catch on as a lead-back somewhere around the league. It’s difficult to speculate where Bradshaw will land so early on in the off-season but the New York Jets would be smart to inquire about his services.
Going forward, Wilson projects as a top-12 fantasy running back in his new role, with Brown holding value as a player with upside to grab in the later rounds. Bradshaw’s value will be determined by where he ends up signing, but don’t write him off as a productive fantasy back just yet.