I’m writing these words with the full knowledge that they could blow up all over my face. I mean that literally, too. Around 4:30 p.m. ET this afternoon when Ahmad Bradshaw already has like 42 yards on six carries in just the first quarter of the Giants’ game against the Ravens, the words here will attack in tornado formation (you know, sort of those wild and super cray tornado fish) and beat me down. This happens every Sunday. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.
I don’t own Bradshaw on any of my teams, but as I often do while dissecting fantasy questions and strategy, I tried to insert myself into the mind of a Bradshaw owner during this fateful hour or so before today’s 11 early games kick off. It’s a dark and scary place where dreams go to die.
Let’s explore this by assuming that since you’re playing for something meaningful today — money in the form of a championship, or a third place consolation prize — you made it through the absence of your RB2 last week just fine, thanks. So there are other options on your bench with, at minimum, near equal production potential. Which then leads us to a very obvious question: how is Bradshaw possibly worth the risk during championship weekend?
In case you’ve been living under a rock that’s buried under a larger rock and surrounded by nine more rocks, let’s do some quick catchup. Bradshaw missed Week 15, and he practiced for the first time in two weeks Friday while entering the weekend listed as questionable. Both Bradshaw and Giants head coach Tom Coughlin have said nice, pleasant things about the likelihood that he’ll be on the field today during one of just three late-afternoon games. And then there was also this yesterday…
Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw (questionable/sprained knee) tells me he was able to cut well when running yesterday and plans to play vs BAL
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) December 23, 2012
Yes, holiday cheer is in abundance with Bradshaw updates. And sure, go ahead and start him then if those other appealing options on your bench don’t exist. But in most cases, a conservative strategy should win here.
The math just doesn’t favor Bradshaw, and it’s a very simple yet crucial equation that I’ve written on several times this week, though it’s worth repeating one more time due to the sheer weight of this decision. Your replacement options are almost certainly playing in one of the 11 early games, making the gamble far too risky here if Bradshaw takes the field in warmups and is then a surprise inactive, with his brittle knee flaring up once again.
But more importantly, there’s also the question of his workload. Will a running back who’s missed nearly two weeks of practice be given his normal volume of carries? No, likely not, since although he may have disappointed last week, the Giants still have a very capable backup in Wilson to share the load.
A limited, slightly hobbled Bradshaw would look exactly like the limited, slightly hobbled Bradshaw we saw two weeks ago when he suffered his knee injury against the Saints. He left that game briefly in the first half, and still received 11 carries. He turn that into only 33 rushing yards against one of the league’s worst run defenses.
This is the wrong week to be brave, and the wrong time to roll your proverbial dice when the risk could easily far outweigh the reward.