Being an NFL running back is a young man’s game, as there are very few other professions on this Earth in which the employee is considered old at the age of 27 (modeling? Sure). But that’s the creaky age Ahmad Bradshaw is set to turn in a month.
Combine that with the salary he’s due in 2013 ($3.75 million), his chronic sideline perch after breaking or ripping something (he’s missed six games over the past two seasons), and the presence of David Wilson in the Giants backfield after he was a first-round pick last spring, and the veteran was a prime cut candidate in these early days following the season’s official conclusion.
That’s what happened this afternoon, as the Giants released Bradshaw to save $2.75 million in cap space.
Ready for the David Wilson boom, fantasy friends? Mmm, my drool still tastes great.
However, before we get too excited, prepare for the strong possibility of a platoon in the Giants’ backfield next year, with Wilson on the high end ahead of Andre Brown. No worries, there will still be plenty of opportunities for both, and the likely end result will be Wilson as a strong RB2 and often an RB1 if he has a weak matchup, while Brown will maintain quality flex play value most weeks.
Wilson’s opportunities were limited during his rookie year after he lost a fumble on one of his first carries. But during Week 14 when Bradshaw was hobbled, the rook exploded for 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns, finishing with 22 fantasy points. The production was even sweeter in leagues that count kick return totals, as Wilson also recorded a 97-yard kickoff return touchdown against the Saints, finishing with a franchise-record 327 all-purpose yards. The ceiling is high with this one, and he’ll be a good mid-round investment (think sixth or seventh).
Brown will offer even more appealing value with his goal-line duties, assuming the restricted free agent is re-signed as expected. Despite a limited role while playing behind Bradshaw, Brown scored eight touchdowns over his eight games (he broke his leg in Week 13). Unfortunately, that lowers Wilson’s production, zapping the faster, shifter back of his goal-line glory, and it makes him a risky option for his keeper league owners who might consider protecting the former Virginia Tech stud next summer. Still, Wilson should give you more than enough between the 20′s after he averaged five yards per carry, and recorded four +20 yard runs despite receiving just 71 carries.
For Bradshaw, his unemployment shouldn’t last long. Again, he may be aging a bit by running back standards, and his brittleness is well documented. But he should still have at least three prime years left after averaging 4.6 YPC this season on his way to recoding his second 1,000-yard year. The Packers immediately come to mind as a leading landing spot after the calamity they dealt with at running back all season between the failure of James Starks, and the replacement-level play of Alex Green and DuJuan Harris.