Should You Trade David Wilson?
Do you remember the movie Cast Away? In that film, Tom Hanks is stranded on a deserted island, and he bonds with the most unlikely of "friends": a volleyball named Wilson. While adrift at sea, during Hanks' character's attempt to flee the island, he loses Wilson, and it's a very emotional moment. You a know a movie works when you're actually upset because a guy lost his volleyball. Soon after Hanks' character loses his "best friend" and is at his lowest point, he is rescued by an approaching ship. He is seemingly rewarded for letting Wilson go.
I believe the same can be said for fantasy owners in 2013.
Trade David Wilson. Trade Him Now.
I know you might be thinking I'm as crazy as a guy who's best friends with a volleyball, but hear me out: now is the time to cast David Wilson away. Last night, upon the report that Andre Brown had broken his leg, Twitter went David Wilson-crazy. I could figuratively (not literally, because that would be crazy) hear Wilson climbing draft boards and gaining value throughout the world of fantasy football with cries of, "He'll get all the goal-line carries" and "Wilson's now a number-one running back."
Forgotten in the frenzy was that we're still talking about a five-foot-nine, 205-pound second-year back who was supposed to share carries with an oft-injured journeyman (Brown). As Shakespeare (a fabled fantasy football afficianado) once said, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." Wilson is lightning fast and super-shifty, but a great NFL running back? I'm not quite sure he's there yet.
Wilson, By the Numbers
At numberFire, we give you an honest assessment of player value based on statistics, not feelings and emotions. I'm going to let the numbers do the talking.
Wilson finished his 2012 season with 358 yards on 71 carries--5.0 yards per attempt--and four touchdowns. In addition, he caught only four passes for 34 yards. Looking closer at Wilson's actual value to the Giants last season, he had a rushing NEP per attempt of -.03, which tells us that he had a slightly negative contribution to the Giants scoring output. The running backs who he was most similar to with regards to that metric in 2012 were Daryl Richardson, DeAngelo Williams, and Knowshon Moreno, backs who finished with a rushing NEP per attempt of -.02 and had minimal impact in the passing game.
Using this metric, Wilson compares unfavorably to the Giants' 2012 "bell cow" Ahmad Bradshaw, who had a rushing NEP of .03. And he looked worse compared the Giants' primary backup (before injury) Andre Brown, who had a whopping rushing NEP of .26. In addition, Wilson came in often with fresh legs in 2012 as a change of pace back, something that has aided the production of players like Danny Woodhead (.09 rush NEP) and Lamar Miller (.08 rushing NEP). However, Wilson's output in this usually helpful situation was underwhelming.
The perception is that, because Wilson will be getting more carries, he will have a greater fantasy value. I agree to an extent. Good fantasy players are built upon three facets: health, opportunity, and production. Assuming Wilson is healthy, he will have the opportunity to put up numbers. But it looks like last night's injury to Brown has inflated Wilson's value too much. Although his ADP hasn't caught up yet, Wilson has seemingly been thrust into the 11-15 grouping of running backs, amidst a list that often includes the proven backs like Matt Forte, Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson, Stevan Ridley, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Reggie Bush.
Remember, Wilson, who is shorter and lighter than most NFL backs, has yet to prove that he can handle 250 touches over the course of a season. He caught only four passes last season, so no one really knows what (or if) he can produce in the Giants' passing attack. During the past year, Coach Tom Coughlin has expressed concern with his ability to hold onto the football and protect the Giant's most important asset, Eli Manning. In addition, the Giants' offensive line, beset by injury, seems to be held together by string and chewing gum. Reports say that Brown could be back in four-to-six weeks, so unless Wilson proves to be capable of carrying the load himself, he could be back in a timeshare before mid-season.
Finish Reading This Article and Trade Wilson Before it's Too Late!
We have Wilson ranked number 20 amongst running backs, which puts him squarely at the end of the third round of a standard 12-team draft. His current ADP puts him late in the second round, and he's still climbing. If you haven't drafted yet, do not overpay for him. If you've already drafted him, good for you--now is the time to sell. Wilson's value may never be higher than this, so it's time to get as much as you can for him. He is far from my favorite running back in 2013, but he is my favorite "castaway."