The New York Giants have let Ahmad Bradshaw test the free agent waters with no intention of bringing him back, so they look ready to move forward with David Wilson and Andre Brown as their two primary running backs in 2013. Brown, who is technically a restricted free agent right now, has already grabbed some headlines by stating his goal is to score 22 touchdowns next season. So the Giants may have a reincarnation of the “Thunder and Lightning” backfield duo they had with Tiki Barber and Ron Dayne close to a decade ago.
Brown became a popular waiver wire addition for fantasy football owners early last season, rushing for a combined 184 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Week 3 against the Carolina Panthers. He had a streak of five straight games with a touchdown in October and November, but only had one game with double-digit carries (13 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown in Week 12 against the Green Bay Packers) over the rest of the season as Bradshaw only missed two games. Brown also suffered a broken left fibula in that game, bringing his season to an abrupt end.
Wilson, the Giants’ first-round pick in 2012, only had 28 carries in the first 12 games of his NFL career as he was largely relegated to returning kickoffs. But he landed on the fantasy football radar with 100 rushing yards and three total touchdowns (two rushing, one kickoff return) in Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints, and had 43 carries for 247 yards and five total touchdowns over the final four games of the season. With Bradshaw gone, Wilson’s role looks sure to expand significantly in 2013.
The Giants have used some type of committee backfield for most, if not all, of head coach Tom Coughlin’s tenure and that should not change in 2013. Coughlin has mentioned Da’Rel Scott as a potential option to compete for the starting job, but if Wilson and Brown are healthy his role will be at best minimal.
All indications are Brown is fully recovered from his broken leg, and he should step into significant goal-line work on the heels of scoring eight touchdowns in just 10 games last season. Wilson is in line to lead the Giants’ running backs in touches, but the prospect of having touchdowns vultured from him puts a ceiling on his fantasy potential.
Both Wilson and Brown are worth considering as a RB2 or RB3 in standard fantasy leagues, but their ultimate value in 2013 will be dictated by league format. Brown has more appeal in touchdown-heavy leagues, while Wilson offers more value in more balanced scoring formats and in leagues that reward return yardage and big plays. Of the two, Wilson has the most upside all-around.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.