The David Wilson Rehab Program
September 26, 2013 | Justin Bonnema
You have a problem. You drafted David Wilson and he’s gone from a trendy second round pick to a buy-low candidate in a span of three weeks. Twenty-five carries for 75 yards and a stint in Tom Coughlin’s doghouse will have that effect. The question becomes, how do you recover from a spoiled draft pick?
This is the point where I should probably tell you to clean up your act and sell him for whatever you can get. Unfortunately, his stock has bottomed out and he’s worth so little, that a spot on your bench holds more relative value. No matter the situation, buyer or seller would be advised to leave him on the bench against the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense this coming Sunday. Of that we’re certain…
But what if I were to tell you that he will still end up as a top-15 running back? Seems odd to suggest that a player snared in an ugly timeshare on an abysmal offense will justify his ADP, given that we’re on the cusp of Week 4—a must win week for many of us. But I promise that this isn’t just blind optimism. Instead, it’s the blissful ignorance of hope, or as contrarians like to call it, foresight.
Indeed, dark times have befallen the New York Football Giants. They were preseason favorites to win the NFC East and now have the same Super Bowl odds as the Jets (100/1). They have the second worst point differential in the league, bettering only the Jaguars. Their offensive line is terrible—they couldn’t block a troll on Twitter even if there were such a thing. Basically, they’ve had a nightmare start and fantasy GMs are waking up in a cold sweat fearing Wilson, a second round draft pick in most leagues, is a bust.
So yeah, things are bad. But hopefully you haven’t already traded him away. And if you have, hopefully it was to me. Because I’m buying Wilson in every league that I can get him.
You don’t need to be reminded of his skillset. That’s why you drafted him. That’s why the Giants drafted him. And that’s why I don’t believe there’s any chance that they abandon him this season, or any season from this point forward for as long as he’s healthy.
The fact of the matter is that they are 0-3 and the playoffs aren’t really a discussion at this point. What better time to showcase your first-round draft pick and give him the experience he needs to become a complete running back?
That of course is just a hypothetical drawn up by logical hopeful fantasy GMs still living on prayer that Wilson will avenge them. But there are tangible facts to support this theory.
As you know, he was benched in Week 1 after two fumbles. Panic ensued and was justified, as he had only seven carries the following week, bringing his total to 14. Then Week 3 happened. Wilson carried the ball 11 times for 39 yards, leading to more panic and hysterical owners selling him for basement replacements.
That’s where we are today, me selling my basement replacements. But a closer look at what happened in Week 3 suggests that Wilson is out of the doghouse and on his way to a big season. According to Pro Football Focus, he played on 49.1% of snaps. That’s pretty good considering the game situation, which saw the Giants quickly fall behind 17-0, and start the second half down 31-0. Such a deficit automatically evacuates any notion that running the ball is a good strategy. Hence, 11 carries.
Still, Wilson played well. He averaged 3.5 YPC while being met in the backfield for the majority of the day. When he did find space, he took defenders with him as he plunged for extra yards. He had a 17-yard touchdown and a 14-yard burst called back for holding. He forced three missed tackles bringing his season total to eight, which ties him for tenth most in the league. He’s averaging 2.5 yards-after-contact, good enough to rank him 14th.
At the end of the day it’s obvious that he’s one of the Giants’ best players and they’re not going to improve by letting his talents rot on the bench. You don’t need to be a scout to see his potential and realize he’s not only their best option, but would be the best option on a lot of teams.
To make my point, the David Wilson Rehab Program really only has two steps. First, keep him on your team. Second, keep him in your lineups.
That may be harder to do against the Chiefs this Sunday, whose defense looks to be legit. But foresight suggest that two games against the Eagles, two games against the Redskins (one of which is in Week 17 so discard it if you must), plus the Packers, Raiders, Lions and Chargers, all of whom bring up the rear in rushing defenses, make Wilson a worthwhile keep.
Furthermore, LeSean McCoy disagrees that the Chiefs represent a threat to running backs as he torched them for 158 yards and a touchdown. Wilson is no McCoy… or is he? Shady has great awareness, decision making and patience, skills that are more experience related. Wilson lacks some of that, which is to be expected for a first-year starter. There’s no question that he has plenty of burst and speed, enough to press the edges and score from anywhere on the field.
But again, you don’t need me to tell you about how talented he is. You drafted him because of his talents. Why would you trade him away when his skillset remains intact?
No, he’s not going to be an every-down back but that was never the expectation. And he’ll probably lose goal line carries, which was the expectation before Andre Brown went down. That’s the ticket you bought. So that’s the ride you take.
In reality, the David Wilson Rehab Program isn’t at all about David Wilson; it’s about you. Only you can keep him on your team. And only you can keep him in your lineup. It’s too early in the season to admit you have a problem.